Greatest Hits (1993) (Tom Petty)

The First Anthology Of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Will Always An Excellent Introduction To Their Music. One Of The "New" Tracks ("Mary Jane's Last Dance") Became A True Staple.

The First Album That Anthologized Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers' Work, "Greatest Hits" (1993) Will Always Remain An Excellent Introduction To Their Music On The Whole. One Of The "New" Tracks ("Mary Jane's Last Dance") Was To Became A True Staple In Its Own Right.

Tom Petty’s very first retrospective, “Greatest Hits” (1993) would become one of his best-selling albums ever. It included all the seminal tracks he recorded both with the Heartbreakers and as a solo artist. These include “American Girl” and “Breakdown” from the debut, the four best tracks from the breakthrough album “Damn The Torpedoes” (Refugee”, “Here Comes My Girl”, “Even The Losers” and the ultra-successful “Don’t Do Me Like That” – is it me, or it has been slightly remixed?) and the sole hit from “Southern Accents”, “Don’t Come Around Here No More”. It also has two of his best ‘80s tracks in the shape of “The Waiting” and the synth-soaked “You Got Lucky”.

Finally, “Learning To Fly” and “Into The Great Wide Open” come from “Into The Great Wide Open” (1991) and the three best cuts from Petty’s only solo album up to that point (“Full Moon Fever”, 1989) are featured (“I Won’t Back Down”, “Running Down A Dream” and the dizzying “Free Falling”). Continue reading

Greatest Hits – The Style Council

This Style Council Compilation Was Released By Polydor In The Year 2000.

This Style Council Compilation Was Released By Polydor In The Year 2000.

This “Greatest Hits” package was released by Polydor in the year 2000, and the title is a bit of a misnomer – it is a singles collection, and some of these singles (like “Life At A Top People’s Health Farm” from the “Confessions Of A Pop Group” album) were not just flops – they will always stand as the absolute nadir of Paul’s career.

In any case, the early years of the band (IE, the time when they were in top form) are satisfactorily documented here, as the many non-album sides like “Speak Like A Child”, “Money Go Round” and “A Solid Bond In Your Heart” are featured. “A Solid Bond In Your Heart”, incidentally, was also recorded by The Jam during one of their final sessions together. That version remained unreleased until it was included on the “Extras” disc in 1992.

The compilation also has the superb “My Ever Changing Moods”, a top 30 hit in America. It was Weller’s one and only composition to reach those heights. Not even the Jam could crack that market in their heyday. The song is certainly praiseworthy, with a lyric in which individuality becomes a limitless expression of collectiveness and the character’s ever changing moods represent nothing but the consolidation of immutable acceptance through history. I think the song will always be the best exponent of Weller’s socialist beliefs, and the finest exposition of his conviction that those principles could lead to an eventual change of mentalities.

Of course, songs like “Walls Come Tumblin’ Down” and “The Big Boss Groove” put across the same message in a more direct language. So does the sardonic “Come To Milton Keynes”. Continue reading

Compact Snap! (The Jam) – Compilation Album

"Snap!" Was The First Jam Compilation Ever Released. The Year Was 1983. The CD Edition Was To Omit 8 Tracks.

"Snap!" Was The First Jam Compilation Ever Released. The Year Was 1983. The CD Edition Was To Omit 8 Tracks.

Quite a gem, this is the CD reissue of a double LP that collected all the singles and the best album tracks that the epoch-making band led by Paul Weller produced during its time together. Eight tracks have been dropped to make it all fit into one CD – the eight album tracks. That makes the CD stand as a sort of singles collection.

Every A-side is featured, and that includes the compositions “’A’ Bomb In Wardour Street” and “Dreams Of Children”, songs that were released as part of double A-sided singles. Of course, all the non-album tracks that they were to release are featured – “Going Underground”, “Strange Town”, “When You Are Young”, and their final #1: “Beat Surrender”  (a song that feels more Style Council than The Jam). Continue reading

Greatest Hits Volume I & Volume II (Billy Joel) – Compilation Album (Part 2)

Only two Billy Joel compilations that span two CDs have been issued so far. I have reviewed the first one here – it is the one named “Greatest Hits Volume I & Volume II”. The second definitive compilation was issued in 2001, and it is the one entitled “The Essential Billy Joel”.

Essential Billy Joel

“Greatest Hits Volume I & Volume II” has 35 tracks. “The Essential Billy Joel” has 36. The latter covers every single album he released, the former reaches up to “An Innocent Man”. His three final albums are not covered.

There is a very glaring omission as far as the “Essential” compilation goes: “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant” has been neglected. The song is beloved by fans, and while it was never released as a single (the only justification the compilers have for the omission) its relevance within Joel’s catalog is something which can never be disputed. Continue reading

Greatest Hits Volume I & Volume II (Billy Joel) – Compilation Album (Part 1)

Billy Joel Hits

The Front Cover

At the time of its release (1985), “Greatest Hits Volume I & Volume II” was the definitive Billy Joel collection. All his major works are covered (no less than 6 compositions are culled from “The Stranger”), and two new tracks were included to appease long-time fans that already had all the hits.

The first disc opens with his by now standard “Piano Man”, and culminates with the highlights from “The Stranger”. Included is “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant”, a true favorite of Joel’s fans along with the title-track and a song that topped the charts and which Billy doesn’t particularly like: “Just The Way You Are”. Continue reading

All-Time Greatest Hits (Crystal Gayle) – Compilation Album

The Cover Of The CD

The Cover Of The CD

The youngest sister of country luminary Loretta Lynn, Crystal Gayle has had career that began at the age of 16 (as part of the Loretta Lynn Show) and which has lasted to this day, yielding no less than 18 number 1 singles.  This cut-cost compilation (first issued by Curb in 1990) boasts a representative number of them along with songs that nearly topped the charts like “When I Dream” (a top 3 hit) and “I’ll Do It All Over Again” (which hit number 2 back in 1977).

I am glad that my two favorite songs by Crystal are included – the adorable “Talking In Your Sleep” and “Why Have You Left The One You Left Me For”. Both compositions were number 1 smashes – the former was the first song of hers I ever listened to, and the latter is one of the faster songs included here in terms of tempo, and one that provides a nice break from the overall mood of the album, which is mostly middle-paced. I am also very fond of the song “Somebody Loves You” – a top 10 hit, and one that melds a bouncy melody with a set of lyrics that are simple but incredibly effective, portraying attachment and loss very deftly indeed. Continue reading

Greatest Hits (ZZ Top) – Compilation Album

You Are Not Going To Ask Why Their Music Is Called "Bearded Rock" by many, are you?

You Are Not Going To Ask Why Their Music Is Called "Bearded Rock" by many, are you?

Two months ago I became acquainted with an American. Upon learning about my active liking for Country music, he advised me to give Southern rock a definitive look. One of the first bands he mentioned to me was ZZ Top.

I must admit that the one and only song of theirs I was familiar with was La Grange. They are not the kind of band that gets airplay in my country. This compilation is readily available everywhere, though, and I decided to give it a go.

Dynamite. The playing of these guys is pure dynamite. I have never listened to people riffing this maniacally. A prototypical ZZ Top would be “Planet Of Women”. Both lyrically and musically, it showcases their from top to bottom.

Musically, it is all about having a good time. These are the kind of songs that get any party going, and keep it running until the end. “Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers” indeed!

Lyrically, it is all about having a good time. Don’t look for any subtext in the songs. You will not find that. ZZ Top’s compositions mostly deal with attraction, love and sex in a direct, unfurnished way that is devilish funny. Continue reading

Greatest Hits Volume I (Linda Ronstadt) – Compilation Album

The Front Cover

The Front Cover

Linda Ronstadt’s first major collection of hits surfaced in 1976. It was to be followed by a second volume in 1980. Between them, they give you a good overall insight into a woman that set records in the history of contemporary music, and that showed that women could be up there in a scene predominantly occupied by male performers. Continue reading