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Thread: Why the Death of Greatest Hits Albums and Reissues Is Worth Mourning

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    Member Jerjo's Avatar
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    Why the Death of Greatest Hits Albums and Reissues Is Worth Mourning

    An interesting article on Pitchfork, mourning what had been a tradition for labels and fans. I particularly mourn those old WEA collections like Superstars of the 70s (where I first heard a Yes song that wasn't Roundabout) and the carefully cultivated box sets that just aren't issued any more.

    https://pitchfork.com/features/artic...orth-mourning/
    I don't like country music, but I don't mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means 'put down.'- Bob Newhart

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    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    The old Warner Bros. Loss Leaders were a HUGE factor in opening up my tastes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerjo View Post
    and the carefully cultivated box sets that just aren't issued any more.
    They've been killed off by all this £100-plus 'super deluxe' crap. I love the 80s/early 90s box sets- Biograph, Crossroads, the three Elvis 'decade' ones, The Beach Boys' Good Vibrations etc. These had unreleased material, were more affordable and sequenced for listenability/enjoyment...not just 'shove it all out there to extend copyright'.

    As Erlewine himself says in the article, 'it's now either feast or famine, with noteworthy classics blown up into $100 boxes, or entire catalogs getting shoved into a chintzy cardboard box'.

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    Hits compilations are dead because they're for the general consumer, not the dedicated listener. Consumers long ago purchased all the comps that would fit their narrow interest range and the pool of radio evergreens has been trimmed through market testing.

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    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeneTull View Post
    Hits compilations are dead because they're for the general consumer, not the dedicated listener. Consumers long ago purchased all the comps that would fit their narrow interest range and the pool of radio evergreens has been trimmed through market testing.
    Hits compilations are dead because nobody buys physical product anymore.

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    Member Jerjo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rcarlberg View Post
    Hits compilations are dead because nobody buys physical product anymore.
    And they think they can get by with just streaming whatever list Spotify curates for them, not understanding that Spotify is a) utterly incompetent at such a task and b) often doesn't have everything in an artists catalog, especially if they've jumped from one label to another.
    I don't like country music, but I don't mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means 'put down.'- Bob Newhart

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    Quote Originally Posted by rcarlberg View Post
    Hits compilations are dead because nobody buys physical product anymore.
    Bingo. Back in the day though I bought quite a few Greatest Hits or collections. It was a good way to see if the song or two that you really knew would let into buying deeper into the catalog. Floyd, Tangerine Dream were must buys but acts like Klaus Schulze, it allowed me to get a taste before spending a bunch of money. Label IC had some samplers that were my intro into some acts like Software. Pop rock greatest hits by the Eagles, Billy Joel, and Heart ( and many others) let me know that that was all I needed.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Tangram View Post
    Pop rock greatest hits by the Eagles, Billy Joel, and Heart ( and many others) let me know that that was all I needed.
    Really? THere's an Eagles best of that has Journey Of The Sorcerer on it? There's a Billy Joel comp that has Scandinavian Skies?

    A lot of times, my favorite stuff ended up being the album tracks that didn't get released as singles. Mind you, a bought a lot of music out of the $1-$5 bins, so I typically didn't spend "a bunch of cash" on anything anyway, unless it was something I was sure I'd like. But a lot of my favorite music typically isn't on the best of releases.

    As such, I tend to avoid buying compilation things unless there's something unique there that's not on the regular albums, whether it's a remix (like Kiss did for a bunch of the songs on Double Platinum) or singles only tracks (like on The Beatles Past Master sets) or whatever.

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    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarGeek View Post
    Really? THere's an Eagles best of that has Journey Of The Sorcerer on it? There's a Billy Joel comp that has Scandinavian Skies?

    A lot of times, my favorite stuff ended up being the album tracks that didn't get released as singles. Mind you, a bought a lot of music out of the $1-$5 bins, so I typically didn't spend "a bunch of cash" on anything anyway, unless it was something I was sure I'd like. But a lot of my favorite music typically isn't on the best of releases.

    As such, I tend to avoid buying compilation things unless there's something unique there that's not on the regular albums, whether it's a remix (like Kiss did for a bunch of the songs on Double Platinum) or singles only tracks (like on The Beatles Past Master sets) or whatever.
    I think one should make a difference between "the best of" and "the greatest hits of", cos the former doesn't necessarily take sales into account...

    in the case of The Eagles (I dislike them in general), they actually opposed those Greatest Hits thingies, as they didn't like taking the songs out of the album context.
    Though one would wonder why, since the studio albums just seemed like a basic collection of song, and certainly not concept albums.
    Had you asked them to make "The Best Of" compilations, maybe they might've included Sorcerer on one of them

    But TBH, Eagles and most of later 70's AOR acts, I don't even need a Best or Greatest from anyone.
    The only notable exception I had done was for Marley, despite owning the live BBB and Lyceum.
    I did consider for a while making another exception for Tom Petty (only like his first three albums, but I do like MJ's Last Dance, and that was released as a non-album single

    But my not liking compilations is more rethorical, since I made my own compilations on XL II-S and CDr
    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Trane View Post
    I think one should make a difference between "the best of" and "the greatest hits of", cos the former doesn't necessarily take sales into account...
    I suppose it depends on who's curating the "best of". One person might be just interested in compiling the singles, or even "just the hits" while another might feel that "the best" includes album tracks that were never issued as singles, perhaps even in places of singles that under performed.

    I remember there was a point in the 90's, at least, when there was a deluge of cheaply produced compilations, getting dumped in, not just record/CD stores, but also grocery stores, pharmacies, convenient stores, etc. I remember in particularly seeing a lot of stuff from the Columbia family of labels, stuff like Boston (really? You're gonna do a best of based off two albums?!), Cheap Trick, Blue Oyster Cult, etc.

    These weren't "official" best of things, ya know, stuff where they did a proper remastering, had someone write good liner notes, or even had the band produced a new song or two. I'm talking stuff where they took a couple stock photos, tossed in a track list and maybe the proper band logo, and put them into Photoshop and produced an inlay card that looked like it was done by...well, by me, actually, and rushed it out to the public in places where nobody's shopping for music in the first damn place! Of course, this kinda stuff dates back to the 60's, at the very least, if not earlier.


    Then there's things like the original Queen's Greatest Hits album from 1981, which had a different track list for the various territories it was released, e.g. the UK release had Seven Seas Of Rye, Now I'm Here, Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy, Don't Stop Me Now and Save Me. None of those are on the US release, but it does include Under Pressure, which the UK version. Meanwhile, the Japanese edition 86ed Seven Seas Of Rye and Bicycle Race, but it does include both Under Pressure and (naturally) Teo Torriatte. And there's several other variations for other countries (the South American release has the live version of Love Of My Life, for instance), presumably based on what was a hit where.


    Personally, a lot of my favorite songs end up being album tracks that somehow never turn up on best of/greatest hits things. Or at least, they used to not. I know fora long time, a lot of my favorite Who songs, things like Armenia City In The Skies, Slip Kid, 905, Sister Disco, The Quiet One, Dangerous, and One At A Time were never on the best of records (though that may have changed in the last 20 or so years, I really haven't paid attention to what's been put out at least that long).

    The Rolling Stones is another good example. One of my favorite songs from them is Yesterday's Papers. Has that ever been on a compilation? Conversely, another of my favorites from them, Ride On Baby has, as far as I know, only been issued on the US only "instant album" Flowers. Think about that for a second: if London had simply issued Aftermath and Between The Buttons in the same form, Stateside, that Decca had done with their respective UK releases, we may have never heard Ride On Baby! WTFrell?!

    Another one that comes to mind is Lady Friend, by The Byrds. It was a non-album single, but since it wasn't a hit, it's typically not included on any of the best of releases. I looked this up once, it was released on a couple best of things that came out in Europe, but it never appeared on an Stateside LP until the mid 80's, and even then, somebody insisted on overdubbing an incongruously modern sounding drummer in place of Michael Clarke's original performance! The original mix eventually appeared as a bonus track on the remastered edition of Younger Than Yesterday something like 15 years later, but that's a long frelling time for a track by such a major band (a great song, at that, too!) to be that difficult to find.

    And I certainly couldn't imagine ELO's Time (one of my favorite albums by anyone) being reduced down to just the Jerry Lee Lewis pastiche Hold On Tight, as good as it is! Nor would I want Concerto For A Rainy Day being represented solely by Mr. Blue Sky.

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    Pikachupacabra spellbound's Avatar
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    Greatest hits albums are good for two reasons:

    1. An introduction to a band. I also like live albums for an introduction, figuring most bands that are worth a damn will do their best playing in front of an audience.

    2. After you have all the individual albums that you want by a band you like, you can still play a greatest hits album in your car, without putting at risk (of theft or damage) any of the individual albums you worked so hard to accumulate.

    Various artist compilations are good for an introduction to bands you might not otherwise encounter, and they are excellent road music for your travels. One such collection pictured and mentioned in the article, Rhino's Rock Instrumental Classics, is good enough to listen to frequently, partly because I like instrumentals, but mostly because the selection is so good. I have Vol. 4 Soul and Vol. 5 Surf. Be a shame if that compilation were unavailable to future generations. The music on the discs was compiled with a bit of thought as to what music was indispensible and how the chosen tracklist would sound taken together as an album. It seems there's not a lot of that thought anymore. Good FM DJs used to put together radio sets of songs that went well together or addressed a common theme, back in the '70s before radio went to hell. Now you have to find a good compilation disc or make your own 'mix tape' to get the same effect. Today's radio DJs are either machines, or bound to a corporate playlist guaranteed to piss off a true music lover.
    Can this be the swan song? The final elbow?

  12. #12
    I never cared for Greatest Hits collections. I am a whole-album-listener since I was 10.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trane View Post
    I think one should make a difference between "the best of" and "the greatest hits of", cos the former doesn't necessarily take sales into account...

    in the case of The Eagles (I dislike them in general), they actually opposed those Greatest Hits thingies, as they didn't like taking the songs out of the album context.
    Though one would wonder why, since the studio albums just seemed like a basic collection of song, and certainly not concept albums.


    d CDr

    Actually "Desperado" was a concept album to a point. It told the story of the real life "Doolin-Daltin" gang in the old west, although there were some songs that didn't really fit the story line. It is one of the band's best IMO.

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    Pikachupacabra spellbound's Avatar
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    the differential is

    dC
    Dt
    Can this be the swan song? The final elbow?

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    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spellbound View Post
    1. An introduction to a band. I also like live albums for an introduction, figuring most bands that are worth a damn will do their best playing in front of an audience.
    I alwxays preferred the live albums as introductions to bands, because indeed it's what they play live that is the essence of the band... FTM, there are bands that I've never owned anything but the live album (UFO and BÖC comes to mind)

    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarGeek View Post

    Personally, a lot of my favorite songs end up being album tracks that somehow never turn up on best of/greatest hits things. Or at least, they used to not. I know fora long time, a lot of my favorite Who songs, things like Armenia City In The Skies, Slip Kid, 905, Sister Disco, The Quiet One, Dangerous, and One At A Time were never on the best of records (though that may have changed in the last 20 or so years, I really haven't paid attention to what's been put out at least that long).

    The Rolling Stones is another good example. One of my favorite songs from them is Yesterday's Papers. Has that ever been on a compilation? Conversely, another of my favorites from them, Ride On Baby has, as far as I know, only been issued on the US only "instant album" Flowers. Think about that for a second: if London had simply issued Aftermath and Between The Buttons in the same form, Stateside, that Decca had done with their respective UK releases, we may have never heard Ride On Baby! WTFrell?!
    the Who and Stones are a little apart, though for two reasons.

    First I care not for both bands post-79, though Townshend can still arouse my interest (the new album)

    second, I always considered The Stones to be a song band rather than an album band.... and their compilations were not named Best of or Greatest Hits, but Hot Rocks, More HR, Made In The Shade and Sucking in the 70's.... and that's all I ever needed for Jagger & Richards (ever Ya-Yas, I can do without)... sure I'm missing a couple of tracks here and there, but nothing I can't live without.

    second bis repetita, The Who's two compilations were called Big Meaty & Bouncy and Odds & Sodds (thought the latter may seem more of a bottom-of-drawer scraping and I own neither, but have Leeds, Tommy, Next, Quadro and WAY
    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

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    cunning linguist 3LockBox's Avatar
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    I bought some compilation albums (tapes and CDs) but ended up discovering songs that I couldn't live without on the proper albums. I can't imagine never hearing Eagles Desperado in full. Same with Ziggy Stardust as well as a host of others. The band America is the poster band for eschewing their greatest hits album, History; it isn't as good as their first three albums. I owned history on both tape and CD when around 10 years ago I heard the song Hattrick for the first time, among others. And did the early Beach Boys comps ever do their late '60s/early '70s albums justice?

    And who amongst us in the computer age hasn't made their own CD-R comps anyway? I was involved in comp creating and trading back in the early '00s (of various artists). That lead to future purchases but those I traded with were regular Joes like me and not music labels. When it comes to music compilations I learned to look past commercial comps long ago.

    Now various artists samplers are a different thing but then again, who needs them now, other than people who casually curious. Spotify and other streaming services work for a lot people because its pablum for them. That "next great song" isn't on most peoples sonar like it is for music message board dwellers like us ��.

    Movie soundtracks are still somewhat viable (that's were I first heard Beach Boy's Feel Flow) but that was before movies started recycling the same songs over and over. As much as I love Gerry Rafferty how many copies of Stuck In The Middle do I need to own.
    Last edited by 3LockBox; 2 Weeks Ago at 08:18 AM.

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    ALL ACCESS Gruno's Avatar
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    I love the expanded album reissues that include multi-discs of content. These reissues have dominated my purchases the past few years.

    From my vantage point, I do not see a decline since this article in discussion was published in 2016. If anything, it appears the article is incorrect and reissues seem to be a norm now with aging acts.

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    Man of repute progmatist's Avatar
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    The original reason for the greatest hits album was to fulfill a record contract, without having to record anything new.
    "Well my son, life is like a beanstalk, isn't it?"--Dalai Lama

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    There were some well sequenced best ofs in the 60s/70s. A few favourites:

    This Is The Moody Blues (remixed and lots of segues from track to track so it feels like a 'proper' album rather than a thrown-together thing)
    Carpenters Singles 1969-73 (as above)
    Fleetwood Mac- Greatest Hits (covers their singles across three different labels and because it was the latest single at the time, one of the few places 'Dragonfly' can be found. Focusses on Peter Green and downplays Jeremy Spencer.)

    As for The Rolling Stones, I always thought the UK double Rolled Gold was better than the Hot Rocks albums. A strong seller in the UK but it seems unknown elsewhere. Unlike the Hot Rocks albums, it had all of their UK A sides, for one thing, and answering something I saw above, 'Yesterday's Papers' was on it. The 2cd version that came out in 2007-ish was also greatly expanded. I think it's out of print now, sadly.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rolled...Rolling_Stones

    With The Who, for singles, I like The Who Hits 50! which came out around five years back. It has good sound, original mixes and also includes singles like 'Dogs' and 'Relay' which were relative rarities beforehand. It didn't get much fanfare given how many compilations they've had, but if I could recommend only one to accompany the actual albums, it would be this.

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    Member Jerjo's Avatar
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    For the Stones, the London Years compilation is crucial because it has all the singles and b-sides for the Decca/ABKCO years.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single...e_London_Years
    I don't like country music, but I don't mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means 'put down.'- Bob Newhart

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    ^Yes, essential. Has the mono mixes too.

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    Jazzbo manqué Mister Triscuits's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spellbound View Post
    the differential is

    dC
    Dt
    Only if you don't consider the original album to be an integral work.

  23. #23
    Other splendid compilations that weren't necessarily greatest hits packages were The Doors' Weird Scenes Inside the Goldmine, and Tull's Living in the Past. Both excellent representations of the bands in and of themselves.
    "And your little sister's immaculate virginity wings away on the bony shoulders of a young horse named George who stole surreptitiously into her geography revision."

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    Subterranean Tapir Hobo Chang Ba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3LockBox View Post
    I bought some compilation albums (tapes and CDs) but ended up discovering songs that I couldn't live without on the proper albums.
    This is basically my feeling. At some point, the greatest hits collections just became wasted spending on my part and I went straight for the proper album. I suppose they are nice for classic rock/pop bands where I only want the big hit single, but I'd listen to it so infrequently that it's basically falls into the same wasted spending category.
    No humor please, we're skittish.

    Never let good music get in the way of making a profit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Dark Elf View Post
    Other splendid compilations that weren't necessarily greatest hits packages were The Doors' Weird Scenes Inside the Goldmine, and Tull's Living in the Past. Both excellent representations of the bands in and of themselves.
    Agree, "Weird Scenes" is what introduced me to The Doors.

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