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I'm the co-host of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl (Sunday nights, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org).  As a freelance writer, I contributed to Goldmine magazine from 1986-2006, wrote liner notes for Rhino Records' compilation CD Poptopia!  Power Pop Classics Of The '90s, and for releases by The Flashcubes, The Finkers, Screen Test, 1.4.5., and Jack "Penetrator" Lipton.  I contributed to the books Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, Shake Some Action, Lost In The Grooves, and MusicHound Rock, and to DISCoveries, Amazing Heroes, The Comics Buyer's Guide, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Comics Collector, The Buffalo News, and The Syracuse New Times.  I also wrote the liner notes for the four THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO compilation CDs, because, well, who could stop me?  My standing offer to write liner notes for a Bay City Rollers compilation has remained criminally ignored.  Still intend to write and sell a Batman story someday.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

THE BEST OF EVERYTHING: An Introductory Appreciation Of Greatest Hits Sets

This was originally distributed privately to paid supporters of Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do) on September 4th, 2017. You can become a supporter of this blog for only $2 a month: Fund me, baby! 





Sometimes only the best will do.

Serious pop music fans may occasionally scorn best-of sets, and sometimes for good reason. There are many, many artists whose body of work just can't be represented or appreciated in microcosm. The thought of, say, The Beatles' Greatest! or some other hypothetical attempt to sum up up the legacy of John, Paul, George, and Ringo in some paltry little package makes me cringe, because so much great stuff would have to be omitted. I need all of The Beatles' records. I need all of The Ramones' records. From The Monkees and The Kinks through The Turtles, The Go-Go's, The Raspberries, and so many others, I could never be satisfied with a mere sample, no matter how representative.

But there are also many artists whose careers I can happily condense into a convenient, compact form. And even among artists whom I eventually adopted as full-on obsessions, I often began with a best-of set as an introduction. Believe me, I don't get to Pet Sounds without going through Endless Summer first.

This new series The Best Of Everything will examine greatest-hits sets that have meant something to me at some point in my life. But before that series begins, let's take a look at some of the artists whose only current representation in my CD library is via some sort of best-of set. For the sake of discussion, this list omits LPs, 45s, digital files, or cereal box singles I may or may not still have in my vast pile o' music. It also omits artists whose entire output I own in a single collection (like Simon & Garfunkel's Old Friends, for example), and omits any artist for whom I own any full-length CD in addition to a best-of set. My Sly & the Family Stone's Greatest Hits isn't listed because I also have the group's debut A Whole New Thing--the damned Greatest Hits set doesn't include "Underdog" or "Trip To Your Heart," and I needed those. I needed 'em, I tell ya!



SINGLE-DISC BEST-OFS:

1910 Fruitgum Company
The 5th Dimension
The American Breed
Ann-Margret
Adam Ant
The Babys
Black Sabbath
The Boomtown Rats
Solomon Burke
The Contours
The Crystals
The Del Fuegos
Neil Diamond
The Diodes
The Doors
The Droogs
The Easybeats
Eddie & the Hot Rods
The Faces
The Fast
Flo & Eddie
The Foundations
The Four Tops
Freddie & the Dreamers
J. Geils Band
Gerry & the Pacemakers
Gary Glitter
Robert Gordon
Ellie Greenwich
Hello
Rick James
Tommy James & the Shondells
Jay & the Americans
Jefferson Airplane
Johnny & the Hurricanes
Johnny Kidd & the Pirates
Janis Joplin
Greg Kihn
Little Richard
Darlene Love
The Lovin' Spoonful
Manfred Mann
The Mighty Lemon Drops
Amos Milburn
The Osmonds
Parliament
Gene Pitney
The Pretenders
The Pretty Things
The Ronettes
The Shangri-Las
Del Shannon
Slade
Chris Spedding
Split Enz
The Stranglers
Talking Heads
Tavares
Toots & the Maytals
Conway Twitty
The Vogues
Roy Wood's Wizzard
XTC
Yes



Asterisk: The Ventures (In addition to the best-of set Walk--Don't Run, I have their CD single of "Surf Guitar Medley.")



TWO-DISC BEST-OFS:

Chuck Berry
Blue Oyster Cult
James Brown
The Cars
Chicago
The Damned
Bo Diddley
Dave Edmunds
The Grass Roots
Buddy Holly
The Idle Race
Joe Jackson
Wanda Jackson
Love
Mott the Hoople
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
The Rascals
Sparks
They Might Be Giants
The Tremeloes
The Yardbirds



THREE-DISC BEST-OFS:

The Clash
Earth, Wind & Fire
Phil Ochs
Prince



FOUR-DISC BEST-OFS:

Led Zeppelin
Otis Redding



BETWIXT AND BETWEEN:

ABBA [two discs sold separately, ABBA Gold and More ABBA Gold]
The Animals [a single-disc and a double-disc set]
The Drifters [two different two-disc sets, chronicling different eras]
The Knickerbockers [a single-disc and a double-disc set]
The New Colony Six [two different single-disc sets]
Pink Floyd [two different single-disc sets]
Suzi Quatro [a single-disc and a double-disc set]





The above list may not be comprehensive, but it's close enough for our informal needs.

I won't rule out ever supplementing some of these best-ofs with more work from the same artist; I'm actually a little surprised that I only had one single Del Shannon CD, and I really oughtta remedy that. But for most of these, the best-of sets listed above are all I'm going to need for the foreseeable future. It's not that I don't love The Yardbirds, but Ultimate! covers 'em pretty well in two discs.

It's purely a matter of one's personal level of obsession, of course. I loved Creedence Clearwater Revival, but finally realized I just didn't listen to them anymore, and sold my copy of Chronicle. On the other hand, my single-disc Partridge Family and Ohio Express best-ofs are supplemented by CD copies of each group (or "group")'s debut album, 'cause there was more I wanted. More! Sometimes we want more. But sometimes the best is enough.

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Our new compilation CD This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4 is now available from Kool Kat Musik! 29 tracks of irresistible rockin' pop, starring Pop Co-OpRay PaulCirce Link & Christian NesmithVegas With Randolph Featuring Lannie FlowersThe SlapbacksP. HuxIrene PeñaMichael Oliver & the Sacred Band Featuring Dave MerrittThe RubinoosStepford KnivesThe Grip WeedsPopdudesRonnie DarkThe Flashcubes,Chris von SneidernThe Bottle Kids1.4.5.The SmithereensPaul Collins' BeatThe Hit SquadThe RulersThe Legal MattersMaura & the Bright LightsLisa Mychols, and Mr. Encrypto & the Cyphers. You gotta have it, so order it here.