Music Central ’96
Less exhaustive but more fun (and infinitely more affordable) than Rock’n’Rom is Music Central ’96 (Microsoft Corp.). This disc is to music databases what Cinemania is to film databases – more obscure works from history don’t have a prayer of being included, but the mainstream standbys are presented with a lot of class. Generous video, audio, and search mechanisms complement the well-written text, and there are plenty of eye-pleasing extras like promo stills and album covers. The intended audience for Music Central ’96 is regular folks who like to be entertained, not hardcore musicologists trying to find out who played vibraslap on a particular one-hit wonder from the ’60s. The disc, in fact, almost seems geared towards the musically uneducated. One feature recommends artists in a similar vein to the one you’ve chosen, in case you want to branch out but don’t know how. Another explains basic musical categories in plain English. The best part, however, is the multimedia – longer-than-usual film clips and a good helping of sound bites really bring the subject to life. The interface is, naturally, beyond reproach (Microsoft has had the basics of making CD-ROMs down for awhile now). This program may be of limited use in day-to-day life, but you’re sure to have a good time exploring it.
– March 1996