#367: Greatest Hits 2

lebrainsgreatest2

RECORD STORE TALES MkII: Getting More Tale
#367: Greatest Hits 2
A sequel to #364: Greatest Hits

The last time we talked about greatest hits albums, I listed seven reasons that die-hard fans usually shun them.  Readers came up with some of their own, and also arguments to defend greatest hits albums.  I usually advise fans to buy key studio albums rather than compilations, depending on the person.  Yet I still own a few hundred greatest hits albums. There have to be good reasons.

And what about you?  How many do you own?  What are your favourites?  Why did you buy them?  I asked myself those three questions too.  #1. I don’t know.  #2. There are many, but Double Platinum and Killers by Kiss are up there.  #3.  Let’s talk about that in depth…I broke it down into seven points:

KENNY_00011. There are some artists that I barely know. Neil Diamond or Kenny Rogers, for example.  There might be a handful of songs I like, but not enough that I have heard to take the plunge and buy an actual album. Or, I know it’s an artist that I don’t want many albums from.  I have a feeling that I only want one or two CDs, so one of them is usually a greatest hits.  I collect a lot of music, but I can’t collect everybody. Sometimes I’ve done the research to know that I need one or two CDs and nothing more.

2. Exclusive tracks are often dangled as bait. But sometimes greatest hits albums are stuffed with exclusive radio edits and remixes that aren’t obviously credited. Kiss’ Double Platinum is one such album. Aerosmith’s Greatest Hits had a number of special edits of songs. Collectors like myself often look for such versions. They make for an enjoyable way to hear a familiar song with a slightly different slant.

SAM_17443. Artwork. Younger folks might not understand why this matters, but I come from the age of physical product. With some bands, you don’t want just the music. You want all the album covers too; they are sometimes as important as any other aspect of the music. Iron Maiden is the first, obvious example. I own several Iron Maiden greatest hits discs simply because I wanted to own all the Eddies. There is a certain satisfaction in viewing them all lined up in order.

4. Historical importance. Some greatest hits albums are just historically important. Best of Van Halen Volume I for example – even if I didn’t buy it for the two new songs, I would have wanted it for the significant role it played in breaking up Van Hagar! You might want to own Their Greatest Hits by the Eagles for the fact it’s the top selling hits album of all time.

5. Sometimes, I actually do listen to greatest hits! Sure, not often by comparison. But if I’m in the car with the Mrs., she might prefer a Deep Purple greatest hits set to a 5 disc version of Made in Japan. I own ‘em, so if they’re good I may as well play ‘em. Also, If I’m going somewhere and I only have an hour or so to listen to music, a greatest hits album often scratches whatever itch I have.

6. Gateway music. My entrance into the world of Thin Lizzy was one CD (Dedication: The Very Best of).

DEDICATIONThat point is the most important one.  Using a greatest hits album to delve further in the discography is such an excellent experience.  My first two Deep Purple’s were greatest hits.  Now my Purple collection is of a prodigious size.  I don’t even know how many I have.  100 maybe?  More?  And it keeps growing!

My first Floyd? Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd.  My first Rush?  Chronicles.  First ZZ Top? Greatest Hits.  See where I’m going with this?  These are bands that, today, I am still collecting.  I still buy whatever’s coming out.  Which brings me to my last point.

7. Personal history.  I’ve developed a relationship with some of those greatest hits albums over the years, even if they have been superseded by better ones.  Something about the familiarity, I suppose.  But even though all my first greatest hits albums were on cassette, I still went and bought CD copies of them all.  In some cases, vinyl too!

What are your favourites?  Does it bother you to own multiple copies of the same songs?  If your favourite band came out with a greatest hits album tomorrow, would you consider buying it?  Let me know!

 

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85 comments

  1. I’ve only got the first LeBrain Greatest Hits – I lost interest when he sold out and went disco.

    Another really interesting post Mike, I own more GH than I thought I did but, Queen and the Who Made Who LP aside, I don’t listen to them a lot if I also own other stuff by them.

    Totally in agreement with using them as a primer for bands with long discographies too.

    I don’t like duplicating tracks now, so I avoid if possible but I am a bit of a sucker for box set editions of classic LPs too.

    Also, how often do you line your Eddie’s up?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The record company forced us to go more commercial man, it’s not my fault. There’s a reason we named the album Greatest Shits.

      Who Made Who is one of those interesting things that holds together as a “soundtrack” as intended. I have to admit seeing the movie as a kid, I was blown away by a movie that had all AC/DC music! Never seen anything like it before (even though it sucked)!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Unless you NEED to see every Emilio Estevez movie…

          The neat thing about it is that Steven King directed it himself. But I guess he realized that wasn’t a good idea because I don’t think he’s done it since.

          Liked by 2 people

  2. Greatest Shits! And a red jumper too! I don’t think I own that many Greatest Hits albums (although I’d have to double-check). They are definitely a very small proportion of the albums I own.

    There are definitely some bands where I’m fairly happy to stick with a compilation. For the most part, I’ve had mixed results. Some have been great gateways that still have tracklistings that I enjoy but there have been many that have been underwhelming and might have stopped me getting into a band unless I had dug deeper.

    Generally, unless I think it’s just a few songs that I really want, I’d start with a well-regarded or classic album first. Or maybe a live album. And if I feel pretty confident I’m going to like the band I might plump for a box set. So I very rarely buy Greatest Hits albums first.

    If it’s bands I really like then I would buy for bonus/rare tracks. So I’ve got a few KISS ones and Aerosmith ones for that reason. But I wouldn’t buy just for packaging or anything like that. Unless there’s music on there I don’t have already I don’t bother.

    Just my own personal way of doing things – no better or worse than anyone else. It’s just the way that seems to work best for me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s not a jumper. It’s my uniform, man! Have some respect for Starfleet will ya?

      This is a great comment. It’s great to hear from somebody who doesn’t buy that many greatest hits for a different perspective.

      Starting with a live album is an interesting experience. I had that experience with a few bands, like Triumph and Sloan. Once you know the live versions by heart, it’s a neat experience to hear the studio ones! It’s really a unique and fun way to do it.

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      1. Haha whoops. Aye captain, uniform it is.

        Starting with a live album can have its hazards too. It can be quite difficult getting used to studio versions afterwards. Like hearing the Sad Wings of Destiny album after only knowing the Unleashed in the East versions. They seemed so slow in comparison it took a while to adjust.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. For me I heard a lot of that music all but simultaneously. I got so much early Kiss in such a short period that it’s all a blur to me now.

          I can tell you that, at that young age, my feeble mind was not yet ready for a live album of Alive’s fury. I did prefer the slower, cleaner studio versions. It took a bit longer to properly appreciate Alive for what it is. Now it’s my go-to!

          The one thing that did always hook me in, on Alive, was Paul’s raps. I loved the Cold Gin intro. I hear there’s a lot you people like to drink vodka and orange juice. Woah yeah.

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        2. The first three are a blur for me too but I definitely know Alive came first before I got those. I was blown away by it. Wasn’t wrote prepared for how Rock N Roll it was as I had only heard 80s KISS at that point. And I’d only heard Parasite done by Anthrax and didn’t even know it was a KISS cover! So hearing that was a shock too!

          Liked by 1 person

        3. Alive and Hotter Than Hell I got at the same time on the same day — but I preferred Hotter by a long shot. I taped the other two off my neighbor within probably just a few weeks. Because I ad the studio albums taped off my neighbor (Hotter included) but I didn’t have a taped copy of Alive, I didn’t listen to it much. I didn’t have a good way to play vinyl.

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      2. As far as Question 1 goes: that does happen to me occasionally. The most recent ones I can think of would be a Davy Graham 2CD one, a Don Henley one (really just so I could have Boys of Summer) and a Clarence Carter one cause there were a couple of his songs annoying my head! But I think those might be the only ones I’ve bought for years.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s on the one I’ve got too. I think it’s called Best or Best Of. It’s got a bonus DVD too (for the amazing Boys of Summer video!) A steal at £5 but I’ve hardly listened to it if I’m honest. Didn’t even know that song was on there!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. 1. There are some artists that I barely know. Neil Diamond or Kenny Rogers, for example. There might be a handful of songs I like, but not enough that I have heard to take the plunge and buy an actual album. Or, I know it’s an artist that I don’t want many albums from. I have a feeling that I only want one or two CDs, so one of them is usually a greatest hits. I collect a lot of music, but I can’t collect everybody. Sometimes I’ve done the research to know that I need one or two CDs and nothing more.

    THIS.

    2. Exclusive tracks are often dangled as bait.

    So long as they’re not Japanese. Because then it can get REALLY expensive.

    3. Younger folks might not understand why this matters, but I come from the age of physical product.

    I’m a dinosaur that way too, I like the physical product. As for artwork, I’m just waiting for someone to come along and ask why you buy CDs then, ‘cos LPs have the better scale. ;)

    4. Historical importance.

    Less important. I’d play it because I like the music, not because it made the Eagles enough money to buy their own islands. That’s like seeking the approbation of others to validate my purchase – oh, 85 million other people bought this, I should too!

    5. Sometimes, I actually do listen to greatest hits!

    Yup, I spin ’em often. My lovely wife prefers the hits of some of my bands. Deep cuts make her tune out, sometimes.

    6. Gateway music. My entrance into the world of Thin Lizzy was one CD (Dedication: The Very Best of).

    DEDICATIONThat point is the most important one. Using a greatest hits album to delve further in the discography is such an excellent experience. My first two Deep Purple’s were greatest hits. Now my Purple collection is of a prodigious size. I don’t even know how many I have. 100 maybe? More? And it keeps growing!

    My first …?

    I don’t know how many Hits sets were my first of that band.. a few. Chronicles for sure. I remember that one clearly, Windsor 93/94.

    7. Personal history. I’ve developed a relationship with some of those greatest hits albums over the years, even if they have been superseded by better ones.

    Yup they can be old friends. Look at Hot Rocks. And was the only place to get Honky Tonk Women for the longest time, too.

    What are your favourites?

    Best of GBV. Hot Rocks. Chronicles. Best of Sam & Dave. I’m really digging this new (to me) R.E.M. set from Valentine’s… there’s tons.

    Does it bother you to own multiple copies of the same songs?

    Nope.

    If your favourite band came out with a greatest hits album tomorrow, would you consider buying it?

    No consideration required.

    Let me know!

    OK! :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The point about Honky Tonk Women is a good one. A lot UK bands treated the singles and albums market as totally separate things which meant a lot of Greatest Hits albums (mainly in the 60s and 70s) would have songs that you just couldn’t get on normal albums. It’s probably not the case now with bonus tracks etc… but for a lot of the Slade stuff, the Peter Green Fleetwood Mac stuff you’d have to get a Hits comp or the singles to get some of the best songs. Even when 24 Carat Purple came out here, Black Night and Strange Kind of Woman had only been singles up until that point. (I think SKOW was on the US Fireball but it wasn’t on the UK one)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Very good point! I’d gotten so used to those tracks being added to the albums, I forgot that greatest hits were originally the best place to get the singles!

        SKOW was on the US version. Instead of Demon’s EYe. But in the US, you could get Demon’s Eye on the Very Best of Deep Purple. So there ya go!

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        1. Ritchie agreed with you on that one. I am surprised that they pulled it out for the 93-94 tour.

          I got Fireball on cassette first (US version) but then as soon as that anniversary edition came out I snagged that. So now the point is moot since it has all the songs :) If you don’t have it the Fireball anniversary edition is one of the best if not the best of them.

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        2. Yes indeed. I bought that in Taranna in 1996…I wanna say at the HMV store. But then we went down to Sam the Record Man, and they had a limited numbered CD single for Black Night, that was released in conjunction with the In Rock anniversary disc. It had two additional remixed tracks by Glover, I think one more of Black Night and one more of Speed King. So I’m happy to have both and when I do review the rest of the DP anniversary discs I’ll include that single.

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        3. We all made the mistakes of youth. Mine? Passing on that Metallica LP anniversary set that you managed to find yourself a couple years ago. $100 was too rich for me that night. Shoulda woulda coulda. And Kiss Chikara at Dr. Disc for…$50 let’s say because I can’t remember. I STUPIDLY chose to but a bootleg version of Carnival of Souls instead. Two BONEHEAD MOVES.

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        4. It’ll never get old will it? The first time I saw Spinal Tap, I didn’t like it. I didn’t get it. Second time I saw it, I watched it two more times in the same week!

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        5. Strange eh? I don’t know if you watch much television but David, err, I mean Michael McKean is currently co-starring in Better Call Saul, an excellent spinoff from Breaking Bad.

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        6. I just felt like quoting Samuel L Jackson for a moment. “Yeah, but you are aware that there’s an invention called television, and on that invention they show shows, right?” Sorry it just flashed into my mind.

          Breaking Bad was excellent as Aaron would attest to. The star of Better Call Saul, Bob Odenkirk, is a comedy writer that started out working with Jack Black of Tenacious D fame…

          See how everything always seems to relate back to rock and roll?

          Liked by 1 person

    2. Whew long reply with many points!

      You’re right — Hot Rocks is likely a standby compilation for a lot of fans. It’s 5:44 am and I don’t know if I have much left to add to this great comment!

      Like

  4. I’m a big fan of Greatest Hits collections mainly for #6. If it’s a band I’m not extremely familiar with and I’m curious about; I’ll usually go for a Greatest Hits if there is one. Then if I want to delve into some albums further I have some idea where to go.
    But most of the time I find a Greatest Hits is enough to keep me happy.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. #8: Remastered music. Sometimes, a greatest hits compilation is the only way to hear an artist’s work remastered. The Sony / Columbia “Essential” and “Gold” greatest hits series—usually 2 discs worth of material—have been fantastic in this regard (Tesla, Whitesnake, Scorpions). Rhino also releases amazing greatest hits albums—often meticulously remastered—by obscure or underrated artists.

    But like Mike, #6 is the biggest reason why I enjoy greatest hits compilation. They serve as a great introduction to an artist or a particular era of an artist. A few essential greatest hits in my collection:

    RAMONES: MANIA. I love the Ramones and have most of their albums, but Mania was my gateway.

    DRAMARAMA: THE BEST OF (18 BIG ONES). If you don’t know this band, buy this album now. Underrated and simply fantastic, Dramarama have become one of my very favorite bands.

    BEATLES: LOVE. Not sure if this one counts, but it’s it’s the only Beatles compilation that I wil sometimes choose over one of their proper albums.

    R.E.M.: EPONYMOUS. The best of their IRS years. It has since been replaced by a better singles compilation, but this was a big album for me in the 90s.

    Finally, If I suspect I’ll really enjoy an artist, I’ll buy essential albums first and bypass compilations (examples: David Bowie, Judas Priest, Pink Floyd, Rush come to mind). Many artists are best heard via their proper albums and, to be honest, I sometimes don’t like hearing back-to-back, overplayed singles outside of their proper studio albums (Def Leppard).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ooooh good point on the remastered. Historically that was also true. Best of Van Halen was the only place to get remastered vintage ‘Halen. Kiss’ Greatest Kiss. Rush’s Retrospective I and II. Very good point!

      I don’t consider Beatles Love a hits album. I consider it something else, a remix / mashup soundtrack perhaps? Great indeed but I would say it’s not a hits album because all the tracks were significantly remixed.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree, Mike. I shouldn’t have included Beatles Love. Another very important greatest hits album for me—one that, in retrospect, isn’t very good—is Iron Maiden’s Edward the Great. I’m writing a reply to your review of that album where I’ll explain more!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. GH packages are good sources of remastered materials. Good point.

        I’m glad that Mike mentioned Rush’s Retrospective CDs. Not only are they great collections, for a few years Retrospective 3 was the only release with the corrected mixes of ‘One Little Victory’ and ‘Earthshine’. A corrected mix of the Vapor Trails album was released in 2013. Vapor Trails was criminally neglected in the original mixing process which made it difficult to listen to and enjoy. It was nice having those two songs available, at least.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yup! Good point on that one. I bought Retro III just for those two remixes, and it was obviously a success since Rush went ahead to remix the whole album.

          I don’t know how Vapor Trails was released as-is in the first place. It’s headache inducing in its original form. I heard a lot of customer complaints.

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  6. Agreed about the importance of the gateway – smiths best… was my first smiths album that of course opened a door of no return for me.
    Oddly enough, it is inappropriately named – when I went back to it recently, the song selection seems haphazard at best. Missing several capital E Essential tracks. But it got me into them (not quite at your DP 100 yet!) so I suppose it did the job at the time

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s fun, once you’ve established a collection beyond just greatest hits, to make your own compilation and see if you can do better! But it’s also important to remember length limits from the era and any other restrictions.

      My Marillion collection is probably well over 200 now.

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  7. Greatest Hits was my introduction to Aerosmith. Everyone I knew had that cassette, and we all played the crap out if it. It is funny, because if that is the only version of the songs you have ever heard, you will be kind of set back the first time you hear the studio version. I know I was.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess you’re not going to be listening to the Dave FM triple play Nickelback weekend eh? My God whose idea was that. Probably somebody who wears a suit to work.

      Glad Craig doesn’t have to work today.

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  8. I don’t often buy greatest hits packages, but these last two posts have made me think about those I own (or have owned). I bought both those Queen Greatest Hits albums on tape back in the day (after Wayne’s World, of course) and have picked up some when I’ve looked to get into a band (I believe the first Cars album I had was the greatest hits compilation). My favourites have been The Afghan Whigs release from a few years back, the Queen comps I mentioned, the Screaming Trees also from a few years ago and the Stone Temple Pilots effort from a few years ago (mostly because it had a pretty incredible DVD). Actually, they might be considered a ‘best of’, rather that greatest hits. Damn. I shoulda checked that before typing, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have that Stone Temple Pilots CD/DVD set. I bought it because (aside from Purple which I do own) I felt I really only needed one STP CD. I chose that one…it had a great new song called something like “All in the Suit that You Wear” (?) too.

      So I bought it, played it occasionally, but didn’t even pop in the DVD for a couple years after buying it. I had no idea that it was loaded to the GILLS with awesome stuff, and all their videos, man! What a bargain that set is!

      Like

      1. It’s a tremendous set, eh? All In The Suit That You Wear was actually written for the first of Raimi’s Spider-Man movies. Would have been a great choice, too.

        … obviously they went with yon Nickelback dude’s Hero (urgh).

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Great post, Mike.

    I tend to buy Greatest Hits albums of artists whom I like a couple of songs but don’t want to shell out for the back catalogue. Of the top of my head I own:

    The Essential Bruce Springsteen
    The Essential Simon & Garfunkel
    Bob Dylan – Dylan
    Johnny Cash – Ring Of Fire
    Beastie Boys – Solid Gold Hits
    Best of Run DMC
    Best of Nina Simone

    etc etc

    I think Greatest Hits albums are a good primer for new fans of a band. I think recommending whole albums could prove tricky, initially. For example – Iron Maiden…. well you NEED the first 7!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maiden you absolutely need the first 7. I wouldn’t mind a good Beastie Boys hits set and that Solid Gold Hits looks great. The only studio album I own is check your head. Might have to go for Solid Gold Hits too.

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  10. IF I have not become familiar with a band, I find the Greatest Hits, hereafter known as GH, a great jumping off point. You can’t blame bands for putting them out. Almost a guaranteed winner. They are something to be mined. If you like a couple of songs from one album chances are you’ll like the whole album. It then leads me to want more and I buy more which equals higher sales for the band. After I get into the band’s catalog I’ll usually trade in the GH. I’m an album guy, not so much collections of songs.

    Though, I admit, I still view Kiss’ Double Platinum’ and The Rolling Stones ‘Made in the Shade’ as stand alone albums despite them being glorified GHs.

    But, more importantly, I find live albums to be better than GHs. Like UFO’s ‘Strangers In The Night’ is far, far better than any GH the record label would have come up with. That was my jumping off point for that magnificent yet under-rated band. Where would live albums be today were it not for Peter Frampton’s ‘Frampton Comes Alive’? I don’t think we would have near as many. That album plus Kiss ‘Alive’ and Neil Diamonds’s ‘Hot August Night’ cemented the live album by proving they could sell. Maybe not for some but I find live albums get me more excited about a band.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hot August Night! What a classic…one of those live albums that is a landmark of live albums!

      Definitely need to get me some UFO in 2015. Among other things…I promised I’d check out Saxon this year too. So maybe those are my two bands to check out in 2015.

      Like

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