With some notable exceptions (Minor Threat, Beat Happening), the lion's share of performers here recorded for big labels or indies with ties to majors. That so many of these corporations have consolidated in recent years is bad news in general, but it works to the advantage of compilers Gary Stewart and Mark Leviton, who couldn't have obtained such a variety of great tunes under more competitive circumstances. To their credit, Dial features future stars (Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Cure), underground influences (Nick Cave, the Raincoats), cult figures (Robyn Hitchcock, the Cocteau Twins) and assorted category-busters (Throbbing Gristle, the Pogues). Some selections are more vital than others, but arguing about the distinctions only enhances the experience. Besides, the presence of the Bad Brains' "Pay to Cum!" makes sitting through a forgettable Lone Justice ditty a lot more tolerable.
Oh, yeah: Joy Division is represented, too. Interpol fans, start taking notes.