Five studio albums, one live and an EP to boot: Definitely enough music to justify your first solo Greatest Hits. For added value, Kim included a bunch of new and unreleased music. With 15 songs and over an hour of music, Kim Mitchell’s Greatest Hits is an easy buy for fans and collectors. For new fans it’s not quite ideal, for reasons we’ll get in to.
Long time fans will remember that Kim’s prior band Max Webster issued a greatest hits called Diamonds Diamonds with two new songs. This album follows suit with two brand new tracks recorded for this set. “No More Walking Away”, co-written by Pye Dubois, is an electric ballad with stunning guitar tones. This is in the same lane as some of Kim’s previous ballads from Rockland or Aural Fixations; very much a “later Kim” sound. Long time fans will love hearing Peter Fredette on backing vocals. The other new song, “Rainbow”, is a straight-on hard rocker. With Andy Curran on lyrical duties, “Rainbow” is just good time Kim rock as you have grown to expect it. It goes without saying that his guitar playing is tremendous. The chorus goes all the way to the clouds. “I’m bringin’ you back your rainbow,” sings Kim and you better believe it.
In addition to the new songs, this time Kim also included two re-recordings. This is unfortunately where first-time buyers are going to be let down. One of Kim’s biggest career hits was undoubtedly 1986’s “Patio Lanterns” from Shakin’ Like a Human Being. This compilation includes a new arrangement, which is actually quite cool. It’s twangy and has lots of guitar play. But that’s not the version that old folks remember from highschool — not even close. The tempo they used to dance to is gone. This version, excellent as it is, unfortunately is only for people who already own the original. The other re-recording is the less sacred “Lager & Ale”, originally from Akimbo Alogo. The vocal line is slightly modified, but this one shouldn’t upset too many people. The Akimbo original remains the best version.
What else is to be found on this disc? We have the opening and closing bits called “Transcendental Soda” and “Hare Soda”, which are simply snippets from the live intro to “Go For Soda”. Nothing too special, but elsewhere you’ll find some cool stuff. “Expedition Sailor” is credited as “The Other Version” which is a remix from the music video, long unavailable to regular folks like us. This fine ballad was a decent hit back in 1989-90 so it’s nice to own that elusive video mix.
That’s it for the special stuff listed on the back, but there are two hidden surprises within. Between “Rainbow” and “All We Are” (the live version from I Am A Wild Party) you will find 30 seconds of a demo. This is a demo for “All We Are”, and the tape could even date back to the Max Webster days since that’s when he wrote the tune. That’s gold. What a cool way to introduce “All We Are”. The other surprise is evident by the track times. Hit single “Rocklandwonderland” is missing the fade out, and runs out to its actual end. It just ends — the guys just stop playing. Really cool unlisted bonuses here.
As for the rest, it’s the hits! All singles (though some only for radio), except for “Lemon Wedge” which was a hit with the fans. Though it doesn’t suit everybody’s needs, Greatest Hits still plays well and scratches some of those big Kim itches.