Mellow, middle of the road, or simply the less abrasive side of music? The supermarket-shelved, unit-shifting scourge of musical elitists or the perfect antidote to brash, rock 'n' roll excess for when you've sweated, danced and been crushed one too many times?
Well, if we can trust Mr Holland on this one (you be the judge there), it's a bit of both. So this, another addition to the series which has so far included rock and roll royalty (Giants) Britpop legends (Ten Years Later) and amp-blowing rawk (Louder) has everything chilled out from the sublime to the anodyne and back again.
Anyone not familiar with Jool's exploits on DVD will be pleasantly surprised to see the one true advantage of having these compilations: you don't see much of the man himself. Apart from his usual cameos appearances, the usual brown-nosing is all edited out, leaving you to enjoy the performances, and there are definetely a few here that are worthy of your uninterrupted devotion.
It's not so much the performances themselves that are compelling - Later... has always been a bit of a sterile experience. Guests politely drink their beers and try not to spill anything on assorted 'random' celebrities who appear to have just dropped by the studio because they heard there was some kind of party going on. It's hardly The Sex Pistols with Bill Grundy and never will be. But, for all its faults, Jools Holland can attract more or less anyone to play for him, leaving this collection with a few gems.
Top of the class are the artists who manage to create meaningful and brilliant music which is quieter than most without being trite, boring and in some cases virtually unlistenable. Bjork is her usual oddball, quirky, yet, sublime self, backed by a seven piece orchestra for Joga and is one of the few acts here who is both enchanting and mesmerising to watch.
There are also classics from Zero 7 (In the Waiting Line), Massive Attack from 1998 (Teardrop) and last year's antihero Anthony and the Johnsons (Hope There's Someone) as well as a fully orchestrated Tindersticks (No More Affairs) and a wonderfully rousing performance from Goldfrapp (Number One) which could almost trick you into believing that this is indispensable from the off.
However, keep this switched on and you end up so middle of the road you are likely to be roadkill within an hour. Admittedly, anyone buying a compilation entitles 'mellow' probably likes this kind of thing but it is still no excuse. James Blunt is excrutiatingly dull (Goodbye My Lover) Bryan Ferry doing As Time Goes By is like a drunken wedding karaoke and Dido manages to warble her way through that song made more famous by Eminem for a whole four minutes.
If you're still in the room, there is ever more dangerous levels of blandness still to come with Corrine Bailey Rae, Morcheeba and Moby making an appearance and I defy anyone to sit through an entire Norah Jones song without leaving your American chain store coffee on the counter and leaving to attack something.
You are unlikely to get this without reading the front cover, so at least it won't come as a shock. And if you're honest, apart from philharmonic backing bands, most of the highlights here barely deviate from their respective albums, while the low-points wouldn't know how to do so anyway. Leave it in the shop and go and listen to the Ramones or something - it won't be as popular after the dinner party, but it's one of the only know antidotes for this lot.