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Re: Greatest hits? Well, no thanks

Greatest hits? Well, no thanks
July 22, 2008 07:47PM
The "greatest hits" thread that Hoip started made me think of this question. (Not that it's very original or clever.)

On the opposite side of the coin, what artists simply aren't well-represented by greatest-hits albums?

I'm not referring to any artist who doesn't have such an album in print. Rather, I'm talking about an artist who, despite best efforts, has not been anthologized satisfactorily.

Some artists have just too vast a catalog to be effectively distilled to one CD, or even a double-CD, or even a good box set. Dylan, The Stones and Neil Young both come to mind on that one.

Terrific anthologies do exist for both The Stones and The Beatles, but not one set that really covers the whole story for either band. Others, like the Velvets, Costello or Talking Heads, are just too album-oriented to be easily represented in one package. (Box sets exist for both the VU and the Heads, but those aren't in consideration here, because they basically repackage the group's entire output, or close to it.)

Any others?

Re: Greatest hits? Well, no thanks
July 23, 2008 02:25AM
Neither of the U2 Best Ofs are really worth bothering with. The 1980-90 collection has way too much shit from Rattle & Hum (i.e. anything) and too little from Boy and October (which gets nothing), while the 90-2000 collection monkeys with all the material from Zooropa and Pop without improving it.

Bowie is pretty impossible to sum up with a greatest hits collection.

Some bands I just love too much to be able to judge a Best Of objectively. Blondie, for example. I have a feeling any of their multiple greatest hits collections might be a pretty good representation of the band. But I could never be satisfied with one. Although the 2 disc Platinum Collection comes pretty close, I guess.
Van Morrison and The Band
July 23, 2008 06:14AM
Van Morrison, The Band, Cowboy Junkies,

and perhaps the winner:

Morrissey!



Post Edited (07-29-08 00:33)
Re: Van Morrison and The Band
July 23, 2008 11:18AM
Van Morrison has 4 best-ofs out as of now: 3 volumes (1, 2, 3) and one called "Still On Top." I would suggest that there's not much to choose from from the 80s onward, and I'm not alone in that. And one of his few truly great songs from the latter-ish period, "Orangefield," never gets anthologized (or even mentioned). Nevertheless, his albums from '89 onward have had some bright moments, though they can be "same-y" and safe--and always include a paranoid, bitter screed or two about how he's being used by the industry and old "friends."
Double The Ruts
July 23, 2008 11:01PM
I've got The Ruts 'Something That I Said' best of which is In A Rut, H-Eyes followed by the entire The Crack album in the exact track order (even Human Punk) followed by West One and Staring At The Rudeboys as well as a b-side (Love In Vain I Think). I already had The Crack but really wanted those 2 songs, so I bought it as well (especially in light of Animal Now nowhere to be seen CD-wise).
Of course I later on discovered that Grin And Bear It was available on CD as well but I hadn't seen it at all before that.
Then I got the Rhythm Collision CD (Ruts DC vs Mad Professor) and later saw that release paired with another Vol II type release (Ruts DC vs Zion Train which includes the Mad Professor disc) and bought that as well!
I can't believe all this Ruts doubling-up and still no sign of Animal Now.

Re Dexy's - There's also a good (EMI?) compilation of their earlier stuff called It Was Like This.
Re: Greatest hits? Well, no thanks
July 23, 2008 08:44AM
Talking Heads
Complete agreement on Van. Isn't he up to 3 of these, so far?
Frank Zappa -- although by theme does work better than just a "collection of..."
Robyn Hitchcock


On the flip, I think CCR and The Beatles work really well in this format, since a lot of their best work sas their singles, and with CCR, it cuts down some of the chaff of the earlier and later LP's. No substitute for Green River, Willie, or C's Factory, but one damned great cut after the other, much like Meaty, Beaty. With The Beatles, you still get a great look at the evolution of the band. Red and Blue collections, of course.
Re: Greatest hits? Well, no thanks
July 23, 2008 09:08AM
The Replacements could never be anthologized properly for me because to me the "filler" songs are what made them special and revealed their personality.

Songs like "Lay it Down Clown" or "Gary's Got a Boner" were as much what they were about as any of the "important" songs - remove the filler and you skew the picture.

Also, Big Star - each of the 3 original albums has a unique vibe - they don't mix.

Re: Greatest hits? Well, no thanks
July 23, 2008 12:49PM
> Bowie is pretty impossible to sum up with a greatest hits collection.

True, but Changesonebowie is still a marvelous listen from start to finish, and a great starting point to introduce potential new fans (as it was for me).

Re: Greatest hits? Well, no thanks
July 23, 2008 01:14PM
The Velvets can't be adequately represented in a compilation album. Much like Big Star, each of the band's original albums has a vibe completely different from the others.

> With The Beatles, you still get a great look at the evolution of the band. Red and Blue collections, of course.

Both superb compilations, of course, but neither one can possibly represent The Beatles adequately. The single-CD release 1 doesn't either; it includes nothing from Sgt. Pepper or the White Album.

Re: Greatest hits? Well, no thanks
July 23, 2008 01:31PM
Agree with Reno on the two U2 best-ofs, as well as the more recent 18 Singles. The 1980-90 album does include the title song from October as a hidden track, but that doesn't redeem it.

The two-disc version of the earlier album does include a few worthwhile B-sides, so I'd recommend picking it up ... but only if you spot a cheap copy in the used bin. (I think that version is out of print anyway.) The same can't be said at all for the later album. At least half the B-sides are just remixes.
Re: Greatest hits? Well, no thanks
July 23, 2008 04:41PM
I saw a few one hit wonder bands get the greatest hits treatment. The one I remember most is Talk: Talk Talk's Greatest Hits.
Re: Greatest hits? Well, no thanks
July 23, 2008 04:48PM
Talk Talk also ties into the main discussion, since their best work came after they abandoned the singles format on Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock, neither of which lend themselves to cherrypicking.
Re: Greatest hits? Well, no thanks
July 23, 2008 04:44PM
Talk Talk actually was a two-hit wonder, right?

Most such bands at least have the good sense to call that album "Best Of," rather than "Greatest Hits." Or to jokingly call it "Greatest Hit" or suchlike.

Re: Greatest hits? Well, no thanks
July 23, 2008 08:07PM
I can't agree enough re. The Replacements.

I thought the most annoying aspect of those U2 "Best ofs" was the haphazard, non-chronological arrangement of the tracks.

Billy Bragg's Must I Paint You a Picture? compilation has some great stuff, but it barely even scratches the surface...

While Bragg's Go! Discs brethren The Housemartins had a prolific, if relatively brief, recording career, I've always found their 1988 best-of, Now That's What I Call Quite Good, to be a much more earnest and joyless an affair than the 2 LPs and numerous singles from which it is culled.
Re: Greatest hits? Well, no thanks
July 24, 2008 11:33AM
What's being left out of the discussion is the commercial realities of greatest hits; most often it's to let a new generation of listeners discover an artist without having to cull through the back catalog. It provides an easy roadmap for those who don't want to go to deep but want instant familiarity. Nice formula: repackage/reconfigure creative works that you already own to make more money. I know my brain is a little too much on the Van Morrison thing right now (so apologies all around), but he was a fading artist in the '80s, and what brought him back to iconic status was the first best-of collection that came out in the '90s, which shot up the charts in a big way and has been a consistently strong seller ever since. The people who want "Have I Told You Lately" played at their wedding are not going to go out and buy Astral Weeks, though they may enjoy "Sweet Thing" when its lodged in a collection next to "Brown Eyed Girl" and "Moondance."

With Talk Talk, I actually bought that collection. And here's a case where an artist has no recognizable stuff (beyond the obvious), so it's just a way to release a relatively good album. With Talk Talk, it is THE album to have by them.
Re: Greatest hits? Well, no thanks
July 24, 2008 01:12PM
"Never knock the "gateway" effect of a good compilation."

That's true. I got into the band Love through a tape copy of Rhino's Best of Love that I found in a bargain bin and the Flaming Groovies through the Groovies Greatest Grooves Sire comp, for two examples.
Re: Greatest hits? Well, no thanks
July 24, 2008 12:52PM
> Most often it's to let a new generation of listeners discover an artist without having to cull through the back catalog.

That was the case for me, with Roxy Music's Greatest Hits. I bought it in late 1979, so I wasn't exactly part of a "new generation." But without it, I would've had to choose where to start among five previous Roxy albums. If I'd found a copy with the uncensored cover, I probably would've started with Country Life ... although, today, Siren is my favorite Roxy cover.

Or, since it was 1979, I might have ended up buying Manifesto. If I had, then I might have consequently blown off one of the greatest bands ever; IMO, that's Roxy's most boring album.

Yes, a best-of album offers a chance to discover an older artist's work. But if the right artist and the right buyer sync up, then it shows the buyer a whole new world to discover. Never knock the "gateway" effect of a good compilation.
Re: Greatest hits? Well, no thanks
July 24, 2008 01:27PM
I have that Rhino Best of Love on vinyl. That certainly was a gateway for me, too.

Re: Greatest hits? Well, no thanks
July 24, 2008 03:08PM
The Residents can't be summed up in any Greatest Hits album, since each album is a unique creation. (And, of course, they had no hits.)

Still, the gang themselves have made some attempts at self-summation, like Give Us Your Poor..., which end up being original Resident objects themselves.

Dylan's three Greatest Hits packages would serve as fine introductions to such people who don't know his stuff.
Re: Greatest hits? Well, no thanks
July 24, 2008 03:16PM
> Dylan's three Greatest Hits packages would serve as fine introductions to such people
> who don't know his stuff.

Same goes for the Biograph box set, which probably is a cheaper purchase than those three packages bought together. The Essential Bob Dylan, a 2-CD set, also makes a good gateway ... although Bob's harmonica playing on the opening tracks could scare off a first-time listener.

Hmm, I think it's going to thread. Excuse me a minute.

Re: Greatest hits? Well, no thanks
July 24, 2008 03:22PM
I looked out the window. It's not going to thread. My mistake.
Re: Greatest hits? Well, no thanks
July 26, 2008 10:47PM
It must be a hard task to take artists with extremely large catalogs and judiciously select periods of growth rather than cherry pick & prune the hits. Take the stones for example, forty five years together and counting (sans jones), I can either take or leave two thirds of their stuff. In fact, I don't see periods of creative growth after those two hot rock double elpees that just about cover all the bases where they're concerned. So maybe that wasn't such a good example.
Well then maybe we should look at elvis costellos career instead to highlight what I mean.



Post Edited (07-26-08 20:01)
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