Tuesday, October 30, 2007

When All Else Fails . . .

I have been less than prolific lately. I could offer excuses (my mind occupied by the success of the Missouri Tigers football team – We’re number 9!), but it’s mostly a lack of inspiration. For years, when I looked at the discs on the shelf and could find no inspiration, the rule was to play Squeeze’s Singles 45's and Under. And when I can’t find the will to write, the rule is to make a list. And so today, in an effort to get the wheels spinning, I combine those two rules and present a list of the ten all-time greatest single-artist single-disc compilations (defined as any group of songs not originally conceived or recorded as part of the same album). I’ve verified that this list is 100% correct, so don’t bother disagreeing.

1. Bob Marley and the Wailers – Legend
2. Chuck Berry – The Great Twenty-Eight
3. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Chronicle
4. Sly and the Family Stone – Greatest Hits
5. Squeeze – Singles 45's and Under
6. Elvis Presley – The Sun Sessions
7. The Ramones – Ramones Mania
8. The Who – Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy
9. Sam Cooke – The Man and His Music
10. English Beat – What Is Beat?


J. Lincoln Hurst said...

Do I lose all my indie cred if I nominate No Doubt's "The Singles" to this list? What a wildly entertaining, colorful collection from a world-class singles band! (This is all pre-sellout Gwen, mind you.)

Michael Atchison said...

No one has any cred here, so worry not. And as Britt at Advanced Theory likes to say, there is no such thing as selling out if you have a record contract. So, sure, you can nominate it. But I'll take Gwen's post-Doubt tunes (b-a-n-a-n-a-s) over most anything the bad did (save for "Hella Good").

And can I mention how much it pained me to leave The Fall's 458489ASides off the list? And don't get me started on that Buzzcocks omission . . .

don said...

Other possible entries

Sam Cooke - The Man and The Music (was 2 disks on vinyl but only one CD)
The Smiths - Singles (sorry Teek)
XTC - Waxworks

Michael Atchison said...

I could definitely get on board with The Smith's Louder Than Bombs.

Andy Whitman said...

What a fun topic.

I'd certainly agree with the Squeeze, Bob Marley, Creedence, Who, and Chuck Berry selections. I'd bump the others, and substitute (hi, Pete Townshend!) the first Rolling Stones Hot Rocks collection, the first U2 Greatest Hits comp, Al Green's Greatest Hits, Sam Cooke's Greatest Hits, and The Clash on Broadway.

Robious said...

I read this blog on a pretty regular basis, and this one is too good not to jump on. Is it too obvious to go with either one of The Beatles anthologies? I would go with 1967-1970, but 1962-1966 is pretty good too. For argument sake though, here are a couple more that could easily contend. The Clash – The Essential Clash or Clash on Broadway, Led Zeppelin – Early Days, Later Days, Stevie Wonder – Musiquarium, The Cure – Staring at the Sea. How about Bowie, Dylan, The Talking Heads, The Velvet Underground? They all had some pretty great greatest hits records.

Michael Atchison said...

For Andy and Robious -

The key term here is "single-disc" comps, which rules out the red and blue Beatles sets, Stevie Wonder's Original Musiquarium, the Clash sets, Hot Rocks, the Zep set, etc.

A couple of comments have mentioned Sam Cooke, but he's on the list already (I swear he is!). Staring at the Sea and Al Green's Greatest Hits are both superlative collections and rate inclusion. ChangesOneBowie is great, too. I've never bothered to own a Dylan comp (other than Biograph) because I have most of the tunes in question on the original albums.

Andy Whitman said...

Michael, you're right, I missed Sam Cooke, but I'm glad to see he's included. And in my defense, I'll note that Chuck Berry's "The Great 28" is a 2-LP compilation on my shelf, so it was easy to overlook the "single disk" qualifier.

Part of the fun of this exercise is identifying the artists who had twelve or fifteen absolutely killer singles amidst some spotty albums. Those are the folks who are most worthy of being enshrined in the "Single Compilation Disk" Hall of Fame. So let me offer up The Doobie Brothers Greatest Hits. The albums? Pretty spotty. But man, they had about twelve absolutely killer singles.

Trip McClatchy said...

Can I add a few more for consideration:

John Prine - Prime Prine
The Best of Blondie
Abba - Gold
The Jam - Snap (also 2 lps, one cd)
Grass Roots - 14 Greatest Hits

And the first greatest hits I ever bought and by far my most listened to record from 1974-1980 - the original, 10 track, Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits.

don said...

Did you edit that list? How did two of use miss Sam Cooke?

Michael Atchison said...

Sam was there from the start.

don said...

and my eyes are still good :{