Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I'm the greatest and you better believe it baby (Ringo Starr)

It's been raining a lot in Stratford lately. That means only one thing - time to re-sort the collection.

I've thought about splitting off all the Greatest Hit compilations from the rest for some time now. The Best Of compilation has always seemed a superfluous part of a band's history in many ways. Until recently, they contained no new material that would add to the legend. Instead they are, too often, a cynical way of generating revenue for the man. For music fans though, they are also a short cut to the hits. I wanted an album of just the hit songs of The Beach Boys so that I didn't have to keep changing albums or make a tape. But really - how many times can you compile The Beach Boys? Seems to be (an) endless (summer). It seemed to me my collection would be streamlined by the relocation of these compilations.

So I did the re-sort and was a tad shocked by how many I had (199 of them on CD and I haven't started on the vinyl yet). Also shocked by how many variations of title there are. Here's a selection of what the marketers have used over the years.

Essential... The Best Of...The Very Best Of...Greatest Hits...The Collection...The Ultimate Collection...A Short Cut to...Anthology...Hit Single Anthology...The Hits Collection...A Stack Of...Remember...Classic...The Classic Years...The Essential...Golden Greats...Hits and History...The Definitive...

My favourite titles are the bespoke ones like Meaty Beaty Big & Bouncy (The Who), Last Chance For A Thousand Years (Dwight Yokam), Strictly Commercial (Zappa), Everything and Nothing (David Sylvian), The Beast of Alice Cooper, and Echoes (Pink Floyd)
I've decided to play my way through them too. Just listened to Jack Bruce's collection called Willpower (a twenty year retrospective). It's an excellent collection with unreleased songs, a brace of Cream songs, and a judicious selection from Jack's excellent solo career up to 1987. I also like how it's set out chronologically for the most part. You get to trace a career. One of my fav's is Jack's original version of Theme From An Imaginary Western that Mountain performed in a different but also brilliant way.

Currently up to Retrospective - The Best Of Buffalo Springfield. 12 tracks of gold! All killer, no filler. Generally I like these early compilations much more than the later exhaustive collections.

I must say the less is more philosophy definitely applies to Best Of.. compilations. Usually, I just want the hits. The Very Best Of Cher is a case in point. I just wanted Gypsies Tramps and Thieves, Half Breed and a couple of the Sonny & Cher hits like The Beat Goes On. Instead I get a double CD of 42 tracks!!!!! NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! Massive delusions of grandeur here girl. 42 tracks !! Yeech. This should have been cut down to a single album size - 12 tracks like the Springfield. Instead we get swathes of trendy dance music in the wake of Believe that I have to skip dross to get to the good bits. I remember playing it in the car in Doha and Jacky couldn't believe I'd bought it coz I only listened to a fraction of it.

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