Jul 152011

Rob Grill: He was a Great Man...

Earlier this week I saw the obit for the main singer for perhaps my favorite B-level ’60s-early ’70s band, Rob Grill of The Grass Roots. I don’t think The Grass Roots get a lot of respect in rock snob circles: they were a semi-manufactured outfit (Sloan and Barri), they were a little too conspicuously handsome, they didn’t write their big hits, in short, they were not Serious Rock. All true enough. They are, for my money, a great argument for the Greatest Hits collection, and the only Grass Roots albums I own are a greatest hits lp (Golden Grass) and the better still Best of the Grass Roots CD. Not a box set; not a double cd. Just 12 songs, all top 40 hits between 1966 and 1971. That is sufficient. As Top 40 pop of the era, for my money it’s hard to beat “Let’s Live for Today,” “Midnight Confessions,” “Wait a Million Years,” “Temptation Eyes,” etc. Rob Grill, we salute you!

And from Playboy After Dark.

Mar 242011

I recently caught a set by the new band of a fellow Townperson, during which they played “My Maria.” I’ve always loved this song but I only had the version by the Gear Daddys.

So I went to buy the original version by BW Stevenson on iTunes and was interested to see that he also did the original version of “Shambala,” the only song by Three Dog Night that I can stomach. Thinking that I may have stumbled onto an as-yet-untapped source of hidden pop gems, I clicked on compilation entitled BW Stevenson: His Very Best. It consisted in its entirety of “My Maria,” “Shambala,” and a remake of “Sunny.”  Three songs, that’s it.

This may be one of the first instances of honest marketing that I’ve come across, and it made me wonder, if the record labels were really being candid, which other artist are  most deserving of a “Best Of” EP or even a “Best Of” single?

One-hit wonders are excluded from consideration, obviously. But what about bands like the Mamas & the Papas (one of my all-time least favorites)? Surely, their “Best Of” could be distilled down to “California Dreaming” and one other song that I’ve never heard, couldn’t it?

Please keep in mind we’re talking about paring down a “Best Of” compilation, not an original album. I don’t want the Mod to seize this as an opportunity to reiterate his misguided notion that Exile on Main Street would somehow be better as an EP.



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Dec 122010

So, I’ve never been the hugest Ramones fan. I found their brand of 3-chord rock to be kind of timid. Well, I picked up their greatest hits CD at a flea market Saturday, thinking “OK, now I’ll have a chance to hear their best, hand-picked by folks who know much better than me.”

Well, I’m hear to report that after the first 3 songs that covered most of their biggies, ie, “Blitzkrieg Bop,” “Judy’s a Punk,” “Beat on the Brat,” the CD–with another 20 songs and bonus–simply sounded like it was on skip. EVERY song was EXACTLY the same–wow, they go G to A to E. Then G to E to A. Or, wow, the more adventurous E to A to F. All played with the SAME lackluster drum sound, the same doo-woopy vocal hooks, and the same guitar wash. It really started to give me a headache. I was almost embarrassed for them.

I know people say that the Ramones are the god fathers of punk–and that the Pistols would be nothing without them–but damnit, the Pistols, the Undertones and every Minor Threat wannabe band has done more with the formula than these so-called pioneers.

So, are they the most overrated band in the history of music? Can’t believe they played at the same time as Television, Richard Hell, etc… and never picked up on the spikey, loudness of it all.

Anyone want a free Best of Ramones CD?

Apr 012010

The Godfather 2 of follow-up greatest hits collections

It’s hard enough for an artist to achieve the distinction of releasing a single greatest hits album. Few merit a Vol. 2 hits collection: Bob Dylan, The Eagles, ABBA, Eric Burdon & The Animals…

I’d argue that the second greatest hits album of Eric Burdon & The Animals, the one with all the hippified stuff like “Sky Pilot,” is not only the greatest of Vol. 2 greatest hits collections but the Godfather 2 of the genre, that is, the rare sequel that tops the original.

How about you? What’s the greatest of Vol. 2 greatest hits collections?

Apr 012010

A greatest hits single?

In today’s poll we ask, These existence of which of the following artists was most justified by the release of Greatest Hits collections?

  • The Grass Roots
  • The Turtles
  • Tom Petty
  • Pre-Disco-era Bee Gees
  • Steve Miller Band
  • ELO
  • Other

Here’s where you can make your case whatever you answered. It’s possible that each of these artists has worthwhile album tracks, but unlikely that we’ll come to agreement on all of them having worthwhile deep cuts. What band’s legacy most depends on its Greatest Hits collections?

Oct 152009

About 5 years ago I finally bought the standard Hall & Oates greatest hits collection, Rock ‘n Soul, Part 1. It was clear to me that there was no killer Hall & Oates album to be had, and for the right price I was will to bring home a hits collections that included some ’80s turds by an artist I liked best in the ’70s. Beside, as ’80s hitmakers went, I could live with my share of Hall & Oates hits like “You Make My Dreams” and “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do).”

Over the years I kept feeling like something was missing from the collection of five or so Hall & Oates songs that made buying this hits CD for the right price. I listened to clips from each of their earlier ’70s albums in search of the hit that was not included, but it was not until I got to the band’s 1980 “New Wave” album, Voices, that I found the song I was missing: “How Does It Feel to Be Back.” Although the third highest-ranking song on the album (behind “You Make My Dreams” and the presumably-also-left-for “Part 2” cover of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling”), the song did crack the Billboard Top 30 and it was in regular rotation on Philadelphia radio in its time. Listening to it now, it still stands up as a pretty stately power pop song, if not the most immediately catchy song in their catalog.

It’s funny how that song has lost its place in the band’s catalog, and I wonder if there are other hit songs you feel have suffered this fate owing to their not being included on an artist’s first greatest hits collection, perhaps with a Part 2 left long ago on the drawing board.

Jun 112009

In other words, “Go All the Way” and “Let’s Pretend.”

The subject line says it all. Thanks to Townsman Mwall for suggesting the topic. In the digital download age this is no longer an issue, but growing up, when vinyl was the main mode of music delivery, we sometimes shelled out for a Greatest Hits or Best of… album by an artist we really wished had made available their two to four worthwhile songs on a less-expensive double A-side single or EP.

What I ask of you is that you share actual purchases of this nature and not witty attempts at listing every possible 1-hit wonder with a Greatest Hits or Best of… album that you never bought or intended to buy. In other words, be real.

The first such album that came to mind for me is pictured above.


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