10 Artists Ready For A Greatest Hits Package

Every year, we get bombarded with compilations.  Compilations of hits, b-sides, rarities, remixes, alternate versions, foreign versions and stuff that previously appeared on soundtracks and tribute albums. 
Last year, we got greatest hits albums from The Offspring, Limp Bizkit, Blink 182, Alanis Morissette and many others.  This year, there have been hits packages from the likes of Oasis, Dave Matthews Band, U2, Prince, Our Lady Peace and many others.
But what about next year?  Who should be releasing their compendium of successes in the future?  I present to you 10 artists who have earned the right to release their greatest hits CDs.  I present them in alphabetical order.
12 years ago, it looked like this California singer/rapper/songwriter was just going to be famous for one massive hit.  Many albums later, he’s still kicking out the jams.  And he has enough hits to warrant the release of a greatest hits album.
Beck Hansen came to prominence in 1993 and 1994 with his unlikely anthem, Loser.  It was initially a local success story in Los Angeles but when Geffen Records signed him and re-released the single, it ended up in the Top 10 on Billboard’s singles chart.  In March 1994, Beck’s first major label release, Mellow Gold, was issued to much fanfare.  (Entertainment Weekly Music Critic David Browne named it the Album Of The Year.)  Besides Loser, there were two other notable singles:  the amusing Snoozer (Pay No Mind), one of my favourite songs of the 90s, and the impossibly funky, Beercan.
2 years later, Beck returned with his Grammy-winning Odelay (which was supposed to be called Ondelay but what can you do?).  The record was even more regarded than its predecessor.  It also helped that there were 4 big singles:  Where It’s At, Devil’s Haircut, The New Pollution and Jack-Ass. 
Other notable singles in the Beck repertoire:  Deadweight (from A Life Less Ordinary Soundtrack); Tropicalia, Nobodys Fault But My Own and Cold Brains (from Mutations); Sexx Laws and Mixed Bizness (from Midnite Vultures), Lost Cause (from Sea Change); E-Pro and Girl (from Guero) and the recent Nausea (from The Information). 
Add it all up and you’ve got a decent 17-song compilation.  When can we expect it?
This much-maligned British group had one hell of a run in the 1990s but petered out early the following decade.  Charismatic singer Gavin Rossdale is better known these days as Gwen Stefani’s husband (lucky bastard) and the frontman for Institute, but he’ll always be best remembered for all those Bush singles.  (In Canada, for about 2 and a half years, the band had to briefly change their name to Bush X.  Why?  Because Dominic Troiano (now deceased) wanted to put out a 25th Anniversary compilation featuring the music of his band, Bush, and he didn’t want any confusion between the two groups.  By the spring of 1997, they reached a deal and for the rest of their career, the British band would be known simply as Bush.)
Starting with Sixteen Stone, which was quietly released in early December 1994 before exploding the following year, there were no less than 5 big singles:  Everything Zen (which started the Nirvana comparison), Little Things (which sounded a little like Smells Like Teen Spirit) Comedown, Glycerine and Machinehead (still played at hockey arenas in North America).  The band was so huge they had to bump up the release of their second album, Razorblade Suitcase.  4 more big singles were issued from that album:  Swallowed, Greedy Fly, Personal Holloway (which opened with Gavin’s dog Winston growling) and Cold Contageous.
Even their remix album, Deconstructed, spawned a hit.  That would be The Stingray Mix of Mouth.  (The original is a Razorblade Suitcase album cut.)
Other notable songs:  The Chemicals Between Us, Warm Machine and the beautiful Letting The Cables Sleep (all from The Science Of Things) and The People That We Love (from their last studio album, Golden State).
Yes, I know, there has already been a Bush hits package (2005’s The Best Of 1994-1999).  But it’s incomplete and only available as an import.  It’s time for a proper domestic release, one that includes all the hits.  Regardless of what you think of them, they’ve earned the right.
Foo Fighters
This is a great story.  A restless drummer with songwriting ambitions secretly records some solo material while waiting for the lead singer and chief songwriter of his main band to show up in the studio.  The result:  the first Foo Fighters CD.  11 years later, long after the death of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana, the architect of the Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl, is highly respected and decorated.  (He’s a multiple Grammy winner.)
Already, they’ve amassed enough memorable songs to warrant a hits package.
Let’s start with that self-titled debut:  You’ve got This Is A Call, I’ll Stick Around (one of the best songs of the 1990s), Big Me, and Alone + Easy Target.  Then, there are these songs from album #2, The Colour And The Shape:  Monkey Wrench, Everlong and My Hero.
On their third record, There Is Nothing Left To Lose, these were the big hits:  Learn To Fly, Stacked Actors, Breakout, and Next Year (which, curiously, has been used as background music for CMT (Country Music Television) promos). 
Other memorable radio staples:  Walking After You (the version from The X-Files movie soundtrack); The One (from the Orange County Soundtrack); All My Life, Times Like These and Low (from One By One); Darling Nikki (a cover of the notorious Prince song from Purple Rain which they issued as a popular B-side.  It was more successful than the single it accompanied:  Have It All.); and Best Of You, DOA, Resolve and No Way Back (from In Your Honor).    
They have so many hits, they may have to issue a double CD.  Regardless, it will be one hell of an album.
Incredibly, they have never released a hits package.  (They’ve only released a greatest videos DVD which just came out last week.)  It’s been 23 years since the release of their debut, Kill ‘Em All, and while it took a while for the mainstream to catch up with them, they have enough radio staples (and memorable songs, in general) to justify such a release.
Metallica has lots of flexibility here.  They could release a collection of all their singles so far in one shot, they could just focus on the ones that were successful or they could do what The Tragically Hip ultimately did which was to have their fans vote for their favourites and pick the top vote getters for the release.
Another option would be to do what U2 did, to focus on the singles one era at a time.  The first one would focus on the 1980s and the second one could focus on the 1990s to the present.  Whatever they decide, the following successes must be included:  One (from …And Justice For All); Enter Sandman, The Unforgiven, Nothing Else Matters, Wherever I May Roam and Sad But True (from Metallica); Until It Sleeps (their only Top 10 hit), King Nothing, Bleeding Me, Ain’t My Bitch, and Hero Of The Day (from Load); The Memory Remains (with Marianne Faithfull), Fuel (a staple at hockey arenas), The Unforgiven II, and Better Than You (from ReLoad); Turn The Page (a Bob Seger cover) and Whiskey In The Jar (the old Thin Lizzy hit) from Garage, Inc.; No Leaf Clover (from S&M); I Disappear (from the Mission: Impossible II Soundtrack); and St. Anger, Frantic and Some Kind Of Monster (from St. Anger).
If it were up to me, I’d just focus on the hits from the years 1988 to 2004.  What would I name my Metallica greatest hits album?  “Strictly The Hits, You Shits!”
Either you love this Alberta band or you loathe them.  Regardless, they have enough hits for their first compilation.  Let’s run through them:
From their breakthrough album, The State:  Old Enough, Leader Of Men, Breathe and Worthy To Say.
From Silver Side Up:  How You Remind Me (a Grammy nominee for Record Of The Year), Too Bad and Never Again.
From The Long Road:  Someday, Figured You Out and Feelin’ Way Too Damn Good.
From All The Right Reasons:  Photograph, Animals, Far Away, Savin’ Me, and Rockstar.
Throw in the band’s engaging cover of Elton John’s Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting), which was originally on the Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle Soundtrack but has been played every Saturday on CBC’s Hockey Night In Canada for years, and Chad Kroeger’s collaboration with Saliva’s lead singer (and Randy Savage doppelganger), Josey Scott, from Spider-Man and you’ve covered all their biggies.
Nine Inch Nails
This notorious slowpoke is due for a hits package any time now.  Starting with Pretty Hate Machine and ending with With Teeth, this will be some album.
From that first release, you’ve got Down In It and Head Like A Hole.  From the EP Broken, there’s Happiness In Slavery and Wish.  From The Downward Spiral (a terrific album), you’ve got March Of The Pigs, Piggy, Hurt and Closer.  From The Fragile, you can add The Day The World Went Away (his biggest hit, it reached #17 on Billboard’s Hot 100 Singles Chart), We’re In This Together, Into The Void and Starfuckers Inc.  And from With Teeth, we can’t forget The Hand That Feeds (which was used in all those Underworld: Evolution TV promos), Only and Everyday Is Exactly The Same.  
Throw in Deep (from the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider Soundtrack), The Perfect Drug (from the Lost Highway Soundtrack), Burn (from the Natural Born Killers Soundtrack) and even Get Down, Make Love (a Queen cover that was a popular B-Side) and you start wondering why Trent Reznor hasn’t put out something like this yet.  Here’s hoping he gets the message now.
Like Beck Hansen, this British quintet seemed doomed to be a one-hit wonder.  And just like the eccentric Californian, they’ve amassed quite a body of work, surprising all of us in the process.
Their first album was Pablo Honey which spawned the accidental hit, Creep.  Other notable singles from the record:  Anyone Can Play Guitar and Pop Is Dead (which only charted in their native country).
Then came The Bends which altered everyone’s perception of the group forever.  This one was loaded with terrific material.  You had Fake Plastic Trees which was played consistently for months on modern rock radio.  That was followed by Just (remember the mysterious video?), High & Dry, Street Spirit (Fade Out), My Iron Lung and Black Star. 
Determined not to repeat themselves, Radiohead next delivered OK Computer, a record so enormously admired many consider it to be one of the greatest albums of all time.  (I wouldn’t go that far.)  The big singles from this album were Paranoid Android (really 3 songs in one), Let Down, Karma Police and No Surprises.
The new decade got off to a controversial start for the band with the release of 2 back-to-back studio albums.  Kid A divided listeners and critics but there were numerous radio singles:  Optimistic (one of the best songs of the decade/I prefer the radio edit), Everything In Its Right Place (featured on an episode of CSI), Motion Picture Soundtrack, The National Anthem and Idiotique.  Amnesiac spawned Pyramid Song, I Might Be Wrong and Knives Out.
Their most recent album was 2003’s Hail To The Thief, a not-so-subtle jab at President George W. Bush and his still controversial 2000 election victory.  You might remember these songs on the radio:  There There, Go To Sleep and 2+2=5.
If you add Lucky, their moving contribution to the 1995 Help benefit CD, and anything else that I’ve forgotten, you’ve got the makings of another terrific hits package.  Throw in a bonus disc of B-Sides and it would be even better.
Rage Against The Machine
Former frontman Zach de la Rocha has all but disappeared while his bandmates have found new life with ex-Soundgarden screecher Chris Cornell with the successful Audioslave project.  But back in the 1990s, this band was all over the radio.
Starting with their self-named debut from 1992, you couldn’t escape these singles:  Killing In The Name, Bullet In The Head, Bombtrack, Freedom and Know Your Enemy.
4 years later, we got the entertaining and bombastic Evil Empire.  The big songs from this release were Bulls On Parade, People Of The Sun and Down Rodeo.  3 years after that came The Battle Of Los Angeles.  Notable singles:  Guerrila Radio (their highest charting American single, it peaked at #69 on Billboard’s Hot 100 Singles Chart), Sleep Now In The Fire and Testify.
Their final release was a covers album called Renegades.  Renegades Of Funk, originally made by Afrika Bambaataa in the 1980s, was the standout radio hit.
We mustn’t forget the band’s cover of Bruce Springsteen’s The Ghost Of Tom Joad and No Shelter (from the Godzilla Soundtrack).
Put all these songs together on one album and it would sell.  Trust me.
Sum 41
Like Nickelback, this is another remarkable, small town, Canadian success story.  In just 6 years time, these Ajax, Ontario pranksters have accumulated enough hit records to put out a worthy compilation. 
There’s Makes No Difference (from their initial release, an EP called Half Hour Of Power); Fat Lip, In Too Deep and Motivation (from their first proper album, All Killer No Filler); What We’re All About (their popular re-working of a song from their EP that ended up on the Spider-Man Soundtrack); Little Know It All (their collaboration with the great Iggy Pop from his Skull Ring CD); Still Waiting, The Hell Song and Over My Head (Better Off Dead) (from Does This Look Infected?); and We’re All To Blame, Pieces, Some Say and No Reason (from Chuck).
With all of their soundtrack and tribute album contributions, not to mention a number of B-sides and rarities, they have more than enough material to put together a decent double-disc set.  Unlike a lot of bands these days, a release of this kind would be justified.
Is Rivers Cuomo tired of being a rock star?  If so, this would be a perfect opportunity to release a singles compilation.
Starting with The Blue Album in 1994, you’ve got My Name Is Jonas, Buddy Holly, Say It Ain’t So and Undone (The Sweater Song.)
Next is Pinkerton which gave us El Scorcho, The Good Life and Pink Triangle. 
After a long hiatus (try 5 years), the band made a triumphant return with The Green Album.  From this CD, we were treated to Hash Pipe (one of Entertainment Weekly’s favourite singles of the year 2001), Island In The Sun, and Photograph.
The following year came Maladroit which featured Dope Nose and Keep Fishin’.
On Make Believe, their fifth, and possibly, final album, we had these singles to enjoy:  Beverly Hills, We Are All On Drugs, Perfect Situation and This Is Such A Pity.
Throw in You Gave Your Love To Me Softly (from the Angus Soundtrack) and I believe you’ve got all the hits in one place.  As it should be.
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, December 9, 2006
5:32 p.m.
Published in: on December 9, 2006 at 5:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

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