Closer – The Best Of Sarah McLachlan (Compilation Album)

"Closer" Compiles Together Sarah Mc Lachlan's Greatest Hits Up To The Year 2008

"Closer" Compiles Together Sarah Mc Lachlan's Greatest Hits Up To The Year 2008

This one took a little to sink in, and it didn’t sink in completely. But the bits that managed to do it are ones I now treasure indeed. Sarah Mclachlan is a Canadian artist that began her career in 1988 with the album “Touch”, in which her trademark mixture of folk and pop was already fully manifested. That record included the hit single “Vox”, and that is the one song which starts this 16-track compilation which was first issued in 2008.

I think I don’t have to tell you it is one of the tracks that I truly treasure from it. The other two that I deem as exemplary songs are “Possession” and “Building A Mystery”. Both were quite successful in terms of chart performance – “Building A Mystery” topped the Canadian charts and almost hit the top 10 in the US. For its part, “Possession” garnered a lot of publicity since it dealt with a famous stalker that even filed a lawsuit against McLachlan – he was to eventually commit suicide before the trial started.

Some might find it startling that songs dealing with such negative realities turn out to be such compelling listens – just look at Elvis Costello’s “High Fidelity” or The Police’s “Every Breath You Take”. But when songs like that are successful, I don’t think that means people are “evil”– quite the opposite. It just showcases that “normal” people are naturally attracted to what happens on the other side. The more people who are keen on songs like these, then, the more representative sample we have of people’s saneness. Continue reading

In The Mood: The Love Songs (Alabama) – Compilation Album

ALabama's "In The Mood: The Love Songs" Was Released In 2003. It Featured 2 New Songs.

Alabama's "In The Mood: The Love Songs" Was Released In 2003. It Featured 2 New Tracks.

Alabama has gone down in history as the most successful group in the history of country music. That is, in a scene that has traditionally been dominated by single performers they did give collectives a definitive chance to push the boundaries of the genre, and the way it has always been perceived.

I was overjoyed to find this compilation when I traveled to Argentina to attend an Elton John gig during The Rocket Tour, if only because not a single disc by them is available where I live. You might think that is strange, but what would you say if I told you that there are no albums by Garth Brooks either here? The ones I have are all imports. That reminds me I live in the opposite end of the world, but it makes me place a high value on these albums that I import, while it also makes me do my homework and figure out which ones could be sound purchases. Coming back to this compilation, when I bought it I knew I was only getting a part of the story that (while compelling) is not necessarily the defining one. Any compilation that hasn’t got “Mountain Music”, “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band)” and “Dixieland Delight” (their calling card in South America) is incomplete by definition. It’s like watching Star Wars and omitting the part when Darth Vader reveals he is Luke’s father. In a sense it doesn’t matter because everybody and his wife know that by now. With this compilation, it is the same – everybody knows these compositions I have mentioned by heart. Every single person who is into country music is more than familiarized with them. Continue reading

The Best Of Joy Division – Compilation Album

"The Best Of Joy Division" Was Released in 2008

"The Best Of Joy Division" Was Released in 2008

Released in 2008, this is an excellent compilation. But to get the main niggle out of the way once and for all: Joy Division was to release an EP and 2 LPs in the years they were together. The 2 albums fit one CD easily, so that coming up with a “Best Of” album which has about 50 minutes of music is always going to be objected to by many. In this particular case, the compilers made the blunder of including an instrumental track (“Incubation”) that is extraneous to the usual spark of the band, which was dependent on Curtis delivery both in terms of content and form.

There, that was the only negative thing that could be said about this anthology. Because the cuts that did make it to the CD are among Joy Division’s finest compositions, conveying in equal measure the palpitating rage and frustration that lay behind Curtis haunted glance, and the melodically ferocious approach of the band. Starting with “Digital” (one of the most delectable paranoid tirades I ever listened to) and ending with “Isolation”, the album is a perfect snapshot of what made the band so unique and (above all) so influential for generations to come.

The first three numbers in particular work like nothing else, as “Digital” is followed by “Disorder” and “Shadowplay”, two emblematic Joy Division songs. The album also includes the hit “Love Will Tear Us Apart”, “Heart & Soul”, the maniac “She’s Lost Control” and a song that makes me think of Costello’s “Radio, Radio”, only that the approach is obviously far removed. The song is called “Transmission”, and while Costello’s number deals with the way the industry dominates the airwaves, Curtis’ song takes a more personal way through and showcases the effect of what is played, not the role of the ones who decide what does get played. 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

Greatest Hits Vol. 1 (The Goo Goo Dolls) – Compilation Album

The Cover Of The Compliation

The Cover Of The Compliation

If you have already gone through the general introduction I penned yesterday, you know I bought this CD more or less accidentally and how it hit me like nothing else the moment it started playing.

This compilation focuses on the Goo Goo Dolls’ commercial peak, heralded by the smash song “Iris” from the movie “City Of Angels” and the album “Dizzy Up The Girl” up to the song “Before It’s Too Late” from Michael Bay’s debatable big-screen adaptation of the classic 80s’ show “Transformers”. Three albums are covered: “Dizzy Up The Girl”, “Gutterflower” and “Let Love In”. These are albums that more or less follow the pattern set down by a song that was originally featured on the album called “A Boy Named Goo” (1995), and which was entitled “Name”. It was their first successful excursion into a territory much mellower than what many fans were accustomed to, and it signaled the commencement of their surge in popularity. That song has been re-recorded for inclusion on this compilation. There is not really that much of a departure – the role the acoustic guitar plays out is the only noticeable difference between the old and the new version of “Name”. Continue reading