Obviously, there's little chance of a sequel to the highest-grossing film of all time -- the "Titanic" sank, you may recall -- but that's not the case with the biggest-selling soundtrack of all time.
Hence Back to Titanic (Sony), more of James Horner's lovely orchestral score. Also included are lively reels and jigs from "An Irish Party in Third Class" (along with a haunting Celtic "Lament"), Maire Brennan's ethereal reading of "Come, Josephine, in My Flying Machine" and several pieces by the "on board" string ensemble, including a stately "Nearer My God to Thee" (reprised solo by fiddler Eileen Ivers). Sandwiched between "Titanic Suite" and "Epilogue -- The Deep and Timeless Sea" is Horner's evocative solo piano performance of "The Portrait," later reprised by Celine Dion as "My Heart Will Go On." Unlike the majority of soundtrack sequels, this one enriches the sonic experience rather than merely exploiting the box office success.
Saving Private Ryan: Music From the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (DreamWorks). In hindsound, music is the last thing one remembers from "Saving Private Ryan." It is absent from the action scenes that dominate the film, and when the John Williams score does appear, it almost serves as a kind of relief. This is Williams's 16th score for a Steven Spielberg film, and it may be his most subtle, from the somber grace of "Hymn to the Fallen" and "Revisiting Normandy" to the ominous overview of "Omaha Beach" and the personal paeans "Wade's Death" and "High School Teacher." Like the men it honors, the music is quietly heroic, full of survivalist determination and pragmatic melancholy.
The Mask of Zorro: Music From the Motion Picture (Sony). Call this one "Sketches of Mexico": James Horner's lively blend of flamenco dancers, castanets, clapping hands, declamatory trumpets and furiously strummed guitars cleverly evokes "Sketches of Spain." Avoiding the cheesiness of the old television score, Horner crafts lush romantic vignettes ("Elena and Esperanza," "The Confession") and highly energized tableaux (the dizzy dance steps of "The Fencing Lesson" are particularly fun). Misstep: Horner and lyricist Will Jennings attempt to re-create "My Heart Will Go On" via "I Want to Spend My Lifetime Loving You." Performed by Latin star Marc Anthony and Tina Arena (Australia's Celine Dion) and produced by Jim Steinman, it's a ballad out of Hell.
Polish Wedding: Music From the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Milan). Luis Bacalov's charming score is not strictly Polish; it has echoes of several Eastern European cultures, as well as Gypsy fervor and tango elegance (Bacalov is from Argentina). The instrumentation ranges from sprightly violins and soaring clarinets to Satie-like piano and church organ, while the moods embrace familial freneticism, courtship gamesmanship, wedding party playfulness and romantic devotion, with Bacalov conducting the Orchestra di Roma.
Pi: Music From the Motion Picture (Thrive/Sire). At last, a true techno-color soundtrack! From Clint Mansell's ominous drum 'n' bass opening and closing themes and "P.E.T.R.O.L.," the dizzying Orbital track used in a chase sequence, this score effectively evokes the paranoia and claustrophobia at the heart of Darren Aronofsky's sci-noir film. Mansell, formerly of Pop Will Eat Itself, constructs a varied score, from the austerity of Autechre's "Kalpol Intro" and the spacious moodiness of David Holmes's "No Man's Land" and Gus Gus's "Anthem," to Banco de Gaia's quirkily pulsing "Drippy" and Massive Attack's trip-hop "Angel."
The Avengers: The Album (Atlantic). One of the dreaded "music from and inspired by" packages kicks off with producer Marius DeVries's techno recasting of the old TV show's brassy theme and Grace Jones's "Storm," which sounds like a James Bond outtake. Other techno bows come from Utah Saints' "Technowledgy" and Roni Size's "Visiting Angels," but the best moments are more pop-ish: the neo-psychedelia of Ashtar Command on "Solve My Problems Today" and "Summer's End" (the last featuring a lovely vocal from Sinead O'Connor). Also, "Blow You Away," teaming the Verve Pipe with XTC's Andy Partridge, and the long-absent Annie Lennox on a spare, shimmering reading of Bjork's "Mama."
How Stella Got Her Groove Back: Music From the Motion Picture (Flyte Tyme/Universal). A surprisingly uneven effort from producer/songwriters Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Their mix-and-match approach works only intermittently: Shaggy's funky reggae ramblings enliven "Luv Me, Luv Me" (with Janet Jackson singing the chorus), and the rap-reggae fusion works well when Big Punisher and Beenie Man team up on "Makes Me Sweat," but Diana King, Maxi Priest and Lady Saw are wasted, the latter on a silly dancehall reworking of Rupert Holmes's "Escape to Jamaica (The Pina Colada Song)." Even Wyclef Jean can't inspire Stevie Wonder on "Mastablasta '98," though K-Ci and JoJo evoke church-bred R&B on "Never Say Never Again" and Boyz II Men teams up with Chante Moore on a lovely ballad, "Your Home Is in My Heart."
Small Soldiers: Music From the Motion Picture (DreamWorks). Concept: Remix rock anthems from the '70s and '80s hip-hop style and tack on the occasional rap. When it works: Wyclef Jean's supple integration with Freddy Mercury's vocals on Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust," Queen Latifah's interpolations with Pat Benatar on "Love Is a Battlefield" (remixed by KayGee of Naughty by Nature) and Edwin Starr's "War," revamped with the help of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Flesh-N-Bone, Henry Rollins, Flea and Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine (the original is also included). Also intriguing are straight remixes such as Mickey Petralia's electronica wrap on the Cult's "Love Removal Machine" and Dallas Austin's sly bending of Billy Squier's "The Stroke."
Dance With Me: Music From the Motion Picture (Epic/Sony). It's salsa that makes this soundtrack hot, particularly Albita's spirited "Fiesta Pa'Los Rumberos" and DLG's lively "Atrevete (No Puedes Conmigo)." Gloria Estefan essays a merengue with "Tres Deseos" and "Heaven's What I Feel," while Ana Gabriel's "Eres Todo En Mi" is a graceful bolera. The film's co-stars, Vanessa Williams and Latin heartthrob Chayanne, deliver the plaintive theme song in both English and Spanish -- the saccharine "You Are My Home," which gets slightly salsafied as "Refugio de Amor" -- but since it's a Diane Warren supersong, it hardly makes any difference.
There's Something About Mary: Music From the Motion Picture (Capitol). Happily, this collection underscores the comedy's theme of unrequited love without evoking its low humor or neurotic subtext. As he does in the movie itself, former Modern Lover Jonathan Richman serves as a postmodern lover/geek chorus with the setup title track, as well as the mopey "True Love Is Not Nice" and a less bleak update of "Let Her Go Into the Darkness." Highlights include bouncy declamations like the Dandy Warhols' "Everyday Should Be a Holiday" and the Push Stars' "Everything Shines," Ivy's moody lounge lament "This Is the Day," '80s keepers like Joe Jackson's "Is She Really Going Out With Him" and Danny Wilson's lush "Mary's Prayer," as well as the Foundations' jubilant "Build Me Up Buttercup."
Music From Chicago Cab (Loosegroove). The prime track here is the official release of the brooding, introspective "Hard to Imagine," a longtime concert staple for Pearl Jam. The soundtrack is something of a family affair: Appearing on Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard's custom label, it also includes the mystical "Who You Are" from Pearl Jam's most recent album, the rough-pop track "Secret Girl" by Gossard's side band, Brad, and the ambient rock "Haloparidol" by Hovercraft, which includes Eddie Vedder's wife, Beth. Hot tracks include Sparklehorse's spooky "Hammering the Cramps" and the Grifters' edgy "Radio City Suicide."
Dead Man on Campus: Music From the Motion Picture (DreamWorks). Less lighthearted than one might expect, this collection is bookended by Mansons: Marilyn Manson delivering an oddly sedate reading of David Bowie's "Golden Years" and Marilyn Manson guitarist Twiggy Ramirez teaming up with his inspiration, '60s model Twiggy, on a flaccid cover of Dusty Springfield's "I Only Want to Be With You." Highlights are few and far between: the Propellerheads' remix of Soul Coughing's somber "Super Bon Bon," Supergrass's bright '70s pop pastiche "We Still Need More (Than Anyone Can Give)" and the Chemical Brothers' remix of the Dust Brothers' "Realize."
BASEketball: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Mojo). More good, dumb fun than the movie itself, from Reel Big Fish's ska-punk take on a-ha's "Take On Me" and Cherry Poppin' Daddies' curiously stiff revival of Harry Belafonte's calyypso tune "Jump in the Line," to the Dickies' curiouser speed-punk appropriation of the Isley Brothers' "Nobody but Me." The Brit-pop seriousness of Plastiscene's "Lemon Yellow" and the strained emotionalism of Soul Asylum's "I Will Still Be Laughing" sound out of place next to Nerf Herder's "Don't Hate Me (Because I'm Beautiful)" and Deep Blue Something's "Tonight (I Won't Feel Anything)." The Ernies, a local ska-funk band, contribute a lively "Motivate" alongside better-known ska-punkers Smashmouth and Goldfinger. CAPTION: Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, above, perform on "Stella"; Jonathan Richman, left, stars on "Mary." ec