Who would ever imagine recordings by Billie Holiday, the Clash, the Sons of the Pioneers, Aretha Franklin, Charles Mingus and the White Stripes all on the same album?
If the mixture of jazz, punk, country-western, soul and rock sounds radical in an era of rigid musical segregation on commercial radio, it's only fitting that we have a genuine musical revolutionary to thank for the new package: Bob Dylan.
In his role as DJ on satellite radio broadcaster XM for nearly two years, Dylan has been playing a mixture of these sounds. The problem is you can't hear the show unless you subscribe to XM.
Ace Records, the imaginative reissue label in England, has come up with the next best thing. Theme Time Radio Hour With Your Host Bob Dylan, a two-disc set available as an import in the U.S., contains 50 of the most colorful records played on the show.
In his introduction to the set, Gavin Martin quotes Dylan about the marvelous range of musical styles brought together on the show: I never understood no border patrol when it comes to music. The Ace package illustrates the wisdom of his thinking. It's easily one of the most entertaining and, even, illuminating historical music packages in ages.
Theme Time is a weekly radio show with the records chosen to fit a particular theme — mother, baseball and tears are some of them — with Dylan playing and commenting on the various tunes.