Can you imagine The Rolling Stones leaving “19th Nervous Breakdown” off any one of their numerous classic greatest hits albums? How about Chicago bypassing “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day” or Lynyrd Skynyrd putting out a greatest hits collection minus “That Smell”?
OK, these aren’t the first songs we tend to think of when we think of each band’s greatest hits, these are no longer in regular rotation on the increasingly narrowing playlists of Classic Rock and Oldies stations, but for those who grew up with these artists, they were cool songs, second-line radio staples that the artists’ record labels had the good sense to include on each band’s standard-issue greatest hits album. I was never a big fan of two of the three bands I listed, so I was happy to have these less-popular radio hits included on a hits collection to save me having to buy a full album by Chicago and Lynyrd Skynyrd just so I could have each of those songs handy.
When Tom Petty‘s first greatest hits collection came out on CD in the early ’90s (?), I played it a few times through, thinking I’d somehow skipped “Shadow of a Doubt,” a second-line hit from early in his career that I enjoyed hearing more than “Breakdown” (for the 8 billionth time in the first couple years of its release). No dice! “Shadow of a Doubt” was not considered one of Petty’s greatest hits.
Similarly, when I was a yon’ teen and brought home my copy of David Bowie‘s Changesone greatest hits collection, I was disappointed to find that one of the Bowie songs that most psyched me up when it came on the radio wasn’t included: “Panic in Detroit.” Why? That was in semi-regular rotation in its time, but it was cast aside by the greatest hits compiler. I didn’t want to buy whatever full Bowie album that song appears on, because I typically found his full albums to be a waste of time. I’m hoping that our resident expert on greatest hits collections, Townsman Andyr, can help us gain insight into the selection process.
Meanwhile, what relative radio staple have you been disappointed to learn was left off a greatest hits album? (Eventually inclusion on a boxed set, by the way, does not count.) Did you eventually break down and buy the original album on which that song appears? I’ve not yet bought a copy of Aladdin Sane.