The finest swamp-rock/blues fusion band released their fair share of great albums, but no disc is more satisfying than this stupendous collection of 20 classic old-skool radio station staples. Starting with a few songs from their traditional blues debut album, practically every song on this album screams out "classic" to the discerning listener. So many bands have tried to emulate the sound that these guys perfected on their fantastic run of singles, all of which are collected here. These guys are almost up there with the Beatles in terms of their sheer consistency, which is represented perfectly on this compilation. My only gripe with this album (and many other critics have commented on this) is including the 11-minute version of I heard it through the grapevine which unfortunately disrupts the flow of the CD, considering that most of the other tracks hover at around the 3-4 minute mark. But it's a small gripe relative to the beautiful tunes contained within.
I received the double disc set of Greatest Hits I & II as a birthday present one year. Greatest Hits II covers most of their 80's output, which includes some classics (Under pressure) and some less than impressive material as well (Radio ga ga). But Greatest Hits I, which focuses on their peak 70's output, doesn't really have a dud in the bunch (I'll forgive them for Flash, because that was specifically for a movie soundtrack). Freddie Mercury was a genius, one of the finest singers of his (or any) generation. And the other guys were pretty bloody good as well. You probably know most of the tracks on this compilation, and some of my favourite songs of all time are contained within this hour-long set.
A perfect example of showing restraint when it comes to releasing a compilation from an artist as influential as Bob Marley. They could have so easily released a double-disc set of his material, but instead they kept it to a lean 14-track 62-minute compilation. All of his classics are here: opening with the lovely Is this love, moving on to the beautiful live rendition of No woman, no cry...the tunes roll of this album like one of his joints before he smoked it. This isn't only some of the finest reggae music of all time, it's some of the best music.
While the Cure are also a great "album band", they have also released many fantastic singles, and this disc collects the singles from the early part of their career, 1979-1985. This is one of the compilations in the list where the singles are played chronologically, and it really helps for a band who have been through so many different phases as the Cure. On tracks 1-4, they showed us why they were one of the best post-punk bands. On tracks 5-10, they moved into their more well-known (and pigeon-holed) gothic phase. The rest of the disc showed them edging more towards pop territory, which reached its peak on their The head on the door album from 1985 (the last album represented on here). They mastered every genre they tried, and proved to be influential to many bands who formed after them. And because it focuses on their earlier period, you still get to hear Disintegration from 1989 (arguably their best album) untarnished by hearing songs out of their context.
Really, just go out and buy this one now. I don't care what music you're into; country, metal or techno. Just get it. You can buy this so cheaply now - I was lucky enough to get it for $5 which is easily the best value in terms of dollars per listen that I have ever had in my entire music collection. I almost feel guilty, and feel that I should send Sly Stone a cheque to compensate for how cheaply I got this disc.
Anyway, this is life-affirming music of the highest order. That sounds like a wanky think to say, but it's true. Sly & The Family Stone were a multi-racial funk/goodtime band who broke all sorts of boundaries when it came to music. This is a 12 track 40 minute compilation, which makes it pretty short by compilation standards. It borrows from their earlier albums up until 1969's Stand!, and includes a few tracks which are unavailable elsewhere including the absolute classics Everybody is a star and Hot fun in the summertime. By stopping at Stand!, it avoids some of their darker moments like those on 1971's There's a riot goin' on; that make this the ultimate party album.
Even if you end up buying all of their albums after hearing this (and believe me, you will), this compilation is worth getting just so you can get those tracks. Seriously, go out and buy it now and let me know what you think. You will not regret it, and you will have a new favourite band.
The Police - Greatest hits
The Kinks - Greatest hits
Pet Shop Boys - Discography
Paul Kelly - Songs from the south
Badfinger - The best of Badfinger