100 GreatestThis compilation of historical moments, released by Shout! Factory this year, is a monstrous collection of modern history. It includes five cds and a 44-page booklet that details the clips included on each album. The five albums are 100 Greatest News Stories, 100 Greatest Scandals, 100 Greatest Speeches, 100 Greatest Personalities, and 100 Greatest Sports Moments. Obviously, each album contains 100 tracks relating to its specific topic. Ranging from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the death of Elvis to the retirement of Brett Favre to Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, this collection is far-reaching and all-inclusive.

Though such a collection could easily have been dry and slightly boring, the clips chosen manage to create a sense of life and energy around every topic. It’s to be expected that the sports album features many high-energy moments, but it’s more surprising that the rest of the albums are as entertaining as they are, though the short length of the tracks doesn’t always do justice to the stories themselves. When listening to one of the 100 greatest speeches, you almost always want a little more than the average 30 seconds given. And though it is to be expected (and technically required for album space) in an album with so many tracks, it’s a bit disappointing that the majority of these clips are well under a minute long.

Also, there are no introductory remarks letting listeners know what each track relates to, which makes for slightly clueless listening unless you’ve got your 44-page booklet handy detailing exactly what you’re hearing. (Listen to “French Strike 1968” without knowing what you’re hearing and it’s all but incomprehensible). In short, this album isn’t exactly made to mix in with an Itunes playlist, it’s made to be actively listened to while following along with the included booklet. In this sense, it’s a well-produced collection of important moments in history, though it seems that it might make a little more sense to organize the clips chronologically rather than alphabetically.

A real disappointment here is that some of the tracks are repeated on separate collections (for example “Agnew 1973” on the 100 Greatest Scandals collection is just a shortened clip of the same speech played in “Agnew Resigns 1973” on the 100 Greatest News Stories collection, ditto the inclusion of “Clinton/Lewinsky 1998” on both of those albums). Additionally, in the 100 Greatest Speeches album, it’s clear that the compilers have favorites (both Reagan and Nixon are included six times each, while Martin Luther King is included only three times and Teddy Roosevelt once).

Bottom Line – This is a moving collection of 100 greatest (or perhaps most memorable would be a better title) events in various topics. The clips are enjoyable but often too short, requiring a bit too much active listening to be appreciated fully.

Zach’s Rating: B-
Perfect For: Anyone looking to relive history in brief snippets
Stay Away if: You’re expecting full-length clips of these 100 greatest historical events

To purchase the One Hundred Greatest Box Set, visit Amazon

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