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Beware the prestige project, a creative endeavor in which entertainment values come freighted with "artistic importance." Such is the lineage of Parade of the Athletes, an album of material that Dutch DJ Tijs Verwest, a.k.a. Tiësto, created for the opening ceremonies of the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. Although the resulting disc has its moments, it exudes a sometimes stifling air of pretentiousness.

Granted, Tiësto knows his way around a beat, and that's a good thing, since rigorous rhythms prevent efforts such as "Ancient History" from tumbling into overt pomposity. But all too often, he seems jealous of Vangelis and tries too hard to produce his own Chariots of Fire. For instance, "Athena" is dragged down by a self-consciously tony middle section that grasps for greatness but settles for schlock, while "Victorious" vacillates between a killer groove and synthetic inserts whose attempts to soar seldom get off the ground.

This ode to athletes may have finished first in Greece, but on the dance floor, it winds up in the middle of the pack. -- Michael Roberts

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