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?


  41 Responses to “Thank Heavens for Greatest Hits Collections”

  1. misterioso

    Excellent and difficult choices. I have already argued for the Grass Roots, and specifically I have in mind the 12-track “Millennium Collection.” There are bigger collections, even 2-cd compilations. Toooooo much for me. 12 songs, none of which I feel the need to skip, that’s what is wanted.

    I don’t have the Turtles Greatest Hits but if I did I imagine that would be quite sufficient. (I know someone is going to argue for the greatness of Turtle Soup or The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands, which is fine and might well be accurate.)

    The two pre-disco Bee Gees compilations can now, through the wonders of cd technology, be combined into one killer disc that cuts away the fat, which is good, since vol. 2 in particular has a few too many quavery Robin ballads for my taste.

    I have very fond memories of Steve Miller’s Greatest Hits on 8-track. I cannot imagine wanting to hear much more than that.

    I would tend to argue for more ELO than fits on their greatest hits (what, no “Tightrope”?) and I would definitely argue that Petty has a good half-dozen solid records and is out of the running.

    I would add these additional nominees:

    -The Lovin’ Spoonful
    -The Hollies (the 1 disc version of the old greatest hits lp is plenty, thanks)
    -Chuck Berry (The Great 28)
    -The (Young) Rascals
    -Paul Revere and the Raiders (acknowledging that Spirit of ’67 is a pretty solid lp)
    -Many Motown groups, e.g., Four Tops, Supremes, Miracles, Temptations, etc. (but I admit to near total ignorance of their lps, so…)

    Thanks for your kind attention.

  2. Mr. Moderator

    The original Hollies hits album is a contender, misterioso, as are the others you’ve listed. A Motown artists’ greatest hits collection is always a winner, but I consider the old 3-album anthology collections that came out in the ’70s to be the ultimate greatest hits albums. I see 3-album sets from the ’70s as the equivalent of today’s box sets and therefore disqualify them.

    I’m one of those people who could not choose The Turtles based on my love for the Turtle Soup album. I have a 2-CD Rascals collection that is excellent, but as an old head I will not consider 2-CD hits collections and anthologies in my equation. I’m only considering 1-LP/CD greatest hits releases, but you are not obligated to follow my self-imposed limitations.

    I have not yet voted in the poll, but I’m leaning toward the early Bee Gees on the strength of this classic greatest hits album:


    I know it’s missing a worthwhile song or two from the first two albums, but as much as I’d like to believe the early Bee Gees albums I picked up for a dollar each over the years are a treasure trove of overlooked gems from the ’60s pop era, I’m not convinced whenever I play them in their entirety. My original early Bee Gees’ greatest hits album suffices.

  3. misterioso

    That Bee Gees comp is very solid. The second one (http://www.amazon.com/Best-Bee-Gees-Vol-2/dp/B001GCWRU2/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1270045047&sr=1-9) is much more uneven, though it has “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart?”, “Lonely Days,” the underrated “Don’t Want to Live Inside Myself” and the majestic “Run To Me.”

    Of all of their early records, only the first is start-to-finish good. The rest involve picking and choosing. Fascinating, but really inconsistent.

  4. Mr. Moderator

    Whew, glad I haven’t voted yet. I don’t own Vol. 2 of the Bee Gees’ GHs, but “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart,” in particular, is the one album track on the many beat-to-hell vinyl albums I own by them that is essential to my listening pleasure and the legacy of the early Bee Gees. For me that may take them out of the running. You have made me think of a good follow-up GH-oriented post. Stay tuned for another day!

  5. misterioso

    Bee Gees, “Run To Me,” live 1974. Intense Barry, Robin doing the ear cupping thing, Maurice tucked in behind the piano. Throw in an orchestra while we’re at it. Awe. Some.

    Nice semi-live “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COqUjfrB8dI

    I’m on a mission, guided by the shade of Maurice Gibb, aka, “the other one.”

  6. I’d just like to note that the guy from Grass Roots is one of my favorite characters on “The Office.”

  7. I haven’t voted yet, but I know that I would take ELO and Tom Petty out of the mix right out of the gate.

    I generally don’t do greatest hits. It’s a record buying flaw of mine. I will usually do proper albums, or double-disc anthologies. I don’t know why this is. If I do a single greatest hits package, it’s usually a gateway to explore the proper catalogue.

    Some single greatest hits that I have bought that seem to work for me are:

    The Raspberries
    Cat Stevens
    The Rascals
    Thin Lizzy
    Chris Isaak
    Glenn Campbell
    The Left Banke
    The Friends of Distinction
    Manfred Mann
    Manfred Mann’s Earth Band

    I’m sure there are others, but those jumped out.

    Some doubles:
    Blue Oyster Cult (which may be too much)
    Hank Williams Sr.
    The 5th Dimension

    There are some double disc hits of some artists in our poll which would be sufficient, but I also have the catalogue albums. One not mentioned is The Association. Their anthology is probably more Association than you could want, but there’s some GREAT stuff there. The Turtles anthology is sufficient, too, but man I loves me some Turtle Soup and Battle of the Bands.

    I only have those first three Bee Gees albums (the reissues) and I know we’ve talked about Odessa here before. I’ve yet to get that.

    I have the Lovin’ Spoonful Greatest Hits, which is plenty. However my sickness prevents me from just owning this collection. Besides, Hums is pretty good stuff.

    I have that gynormous Hollies box which is much too much. Nice, but too much. “Bus Stop” ain’t even on there!

    Box sets are another matter all together…


  8. Mr. Moderator

    “Four Eyes” from Hums of the Lovin’ Spoonful took their fine, standard hits album out of the mix for me.

    I never bought it, but I wonder if George Harrison’s standard hits lp from the ’70s would have done the trick for me regarding his solo output. Ringo’s GH album, as I’ve argued before, is nearly the best solo Beatles’ single-album GH album ever.

  9. Yeah, but George’s had Beatles tracks on it, which disqualifies for me. The new set, with the misleading title, could work.

    I like George’s solo work. It’s not all GREAT, but it is consistent and there are some nuggets on those albums. I’d have to check the track listing for that new one, though. Does it have “Blow Away” on it?

    There’s too many Lennon collections to even try. The double disc Macca collection Wingspan is probably enough. It does a fine job of replacing/combining Wings’ Greatest (“Mull of Kintyre”) and All The Best.



  10. Just looked at the latest George collection. Still not good enough. There’s at least three (live) Beatles cuts. I’m assuming they’re from the Bangla Desh gig? Also, no “Crackerbox Palace” or “Faster.” No “Not Guilty” or “Here Comes The Moon.” Granted those may not be “hits”, but it does make it a flawed set in my book.


  11. Mr. Moderator

    Thanks for checking on the Harrison GH collections, TB. The Beatles tracks are a major cop out on his part. No dice!

    The double Wingspan collection is definitely all the McCartney I really need, although I’d already bought too many of his albums before and even since its release! However, I like Band on the Run so much that not even Wingspan suffices.

  12. That most recent Harrison disc is close, but no cigar. It needs “Handle with Care,” “Crackerbox Palace” and that song from Time Bandits.

    I can’t recommend any McCartney best-of. They all have shit like “With a Little Luck” and “Pipes of Peace.” Stick with McCartney, Band on the Run, Venus and Mars, Back to the Egg

    I really like Shaved Fish.

  13. “Dream Away” would be the Time Bandits song.

    McCartney also has Ram, which is a fine little album.

    Is anybody going to go to bat for Press To Play? (I won’t…that record’s a turd.)

    Shaved Fish, The John Lennon Collection, Working Class Hero, the Imagine soundtrack…Pick a cover.


  14. misterioso

    Yeah, why can’t they get a George comp right? It shouldn’t be that hard to create a really solid solo-career spanning collection. There’s plenty of good singles and ample album tracks.

    I may as well come out and admit that I have Macca issues. No greatest hits collection is going to be enough. When called upon, I will go to bat not only for McCartney and Band on the Run, but also for Ram, Venus and Mars, Back to the Egg, much of Tug of War, and of course lots of singles. (And b-sides, so many great b-sides!)

    And “With a Little Luck” is magnificent. It would have made a great Beatles single.

  15. There’s a Hollies greatest hits that doesn’t have Bus Stop?? WTF?

    I have the ELO greatest hits that’s missing their version of Do Ya. Criminal. Must be a copyright thing. Why else would you skip that?!

    Any other huge omissions from a G.H.s?

  16. Mr. Moderator

    The magic of The Animals could never be captured on one GH album because the later hippie stuff that I love as much as the early stuff must have been on a different label.

    I know what you mean about ELO, chick. I had to create my own Greatest Hits album through iTunes.

    The classic Hollies GH album from our youth was missing my all-time favorite Hollies song, “I Can’t Let Go.”


    For that reason alone I never bothered buying that thing, not even from a $1 bin. I finally bought some Abbey Road mono singles collection that includes most of what I love by them, although I think I own Vol. 2, which is missing some of the stuff from that classic lp.

  17. Mr. Moderator

    As an aside, I love when the tracks on a ’60s GH album are listed on the front cover!

  18. That’s a Hollies’ five disc box set with no “Bus Stop.” I’m not sure why that one is omitted. I’m too lazy to do the research.

    I’ve bought many hits collections because thet were baited with a single or a new track (“Positively 4th Street”).

    Speaking of Macca, I’ll got to bat for Wild Life. Red Rose Speedway isn’t bad (“Get On The Right Thing” should have been a hit). There’s lots of solo Macca I like alot and a GH would never suffice for me.


  19. Mr. Moderator

    OK, I just voted for The Grass Roots in the poll. I don’t think I’ve ever even SEEN a Grass Roots album that wasn’t a GH album. I actually own a “psychedelic” Association album that blows. The few times I’ve spun it I can’t even find a “good-bad” song.

  20. misterioso

    You raise a good point. I have never seen, in the flesh, as it were, a non-greatest hits Grass Roots album. I have this lp http://www.flickr.com/photos/40103951@N00/3852885170 and the aforementioned Millennium Collection cd.

    Here they are performing the title track from one of those lps, Feelings, in the Doris Day movie With Six You Get Eggroll, which, although I think it was on tv every Sunday afternoon when I was a kid, I have successfully avoided seeing.

    A video for “Bella Linda” in which the Roots stalk and are stalked by a mysterious barefoot woman. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3Pjpw5EqW8&feature=related

    Someone singing the same in Italian. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usfXrIwM0WY&feature=related

    Stop me before I turn this into a Grass Roots thread.

  21. misterioso

    Sorry, here is the link for Grass Roots in With Six You Get Eggroll. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tx5mGH0Fm9s

  22. I voted for other — who needs anything from The Guess Who other than their greatest hits album?

    I know I am in the minority, but I love Wings London Town and Back to the Egg, which are not well representing on Wingspan.

  23. misterioso

    London Town is not at all bad. It’s just a bit bland and wimpy. There are some songs there, though.

    I’m waiting for anyone to step up and given an amen for Speed of Sound, though.

  24. see TB.. a WHOLE bunch of people like Back To The Egg.. I’m not the only one..

    Anyway.. to chime in… I can not do with ANY single disc GH from any of the Beatles.. it can’t happen, not even Ringo!

    I can do with a GH of The Animals, ELO, Steve Miller Band and even The Eagles..

    and.. I’ll give an amen for Wings At The Speed Of Sound!!

  25. misterioso

    mickavory, I’ve got four words for you: “Cook of the House.” And then two more: “Wino Junko.”

  26. Mr. Moderator

    I should have added The Guess Who and BTO to the poll choices. Good one, funoka!

    As for solo McCartney albums, I like the song “With a Little Luck,” but I can’t recall if I like much more on that album. Back to the Egg is better in concept than in the grooves, if you ask me. “Old Siam Sir” is almost good. I think I can say that about a couple of other songs on that album.

    Wings at the Speed of Sound has “Silly Love Songs,” right? I love that song, but I wish I could slice off the rest of that vinyl with a really sharp blade – an Exacto knife.

    A Townsman on our Facebook page said The Eagles’ GH album was the most-legacy building of all GH albums. Not a bad choice.

  27. Yeah, what would we do without “Rockestra Theme?” David Gilmore really shines on that.

  28. misterioso

    It’s true, Eagles Greatest hits greatly burnishes their credentials as loathsome scumbags.

  29. alexmagic

    I think, among the various Townspeople, you’ll find someone willing to go to bat for solo McCartney up until about Pipes of Peace. I’m a big fan of everything from McCartney to Venus and Mars. The next two aren’t as big for me, but I do really enjoy the Back To The Egg through Tug of War years. After that, there are only a few songs here or there until he started up his “every other album” streak with Flaming Pie.

    That said, Wingspan was a surprisingly good collection, especially what he picked for the second, non-hits disc.

    None of the Harrison collections have gotten it completely right, and I’ve suggested a few lesser-known songs from his albums here before. The Best of Dark Horse collection is a pretty good overview of the years it could cover, but naturally it completely had to skip over the first three albums, and you obviously can’t have a Harrison best of with nothing from All Things Must Pass.

    I’d throw Petty and ELO off the list as well. There are dozens of ELO greatest hits albums that have different track listings and they all leave off something good. I’m not even sure I’d know what to put on/leave off of a good ELO Greatest Hits disc, as there are plenty of winners that never get played anywhere. It was a lot easier to pare things down when we did that “starter’s guide” for The Move.

    Steve Miller, though, there’s your Greatest Hits Only guy. Are there any Steve Miller songs that aren’t on his greatest hits collection that have ever gotten played on the radio, and is the world any worse off if the answer is no? I think Steve Miller’s career is perfectly summed up, and not in a completely negative way, by one of those “$5 Greatest Hits Collections!” bins you can find at the front of any record chain store.

    Also, it was Lawrence Juber who totally stole the show on Rockestra Theme.

  30. Mr. Moderator

    Via our Facebook page a Townsman suggested maybe the best choice yet: ABBA!

  31. misterioso

    Good call on Abba. And, again, I strongly advocate the normally chintzy 20th Century Masters/Millennium Collection, where their parsimony works to one’s advantage. 11 songs. None that annoy me. Abba Gold and The Definitive Collection, etc.–sorry, waaaayy more than I need.

    Speaking of the Grass Roots, I looked at the booklet in the Millennium Collection comp of theirs that I own. It’s hilarious: it gives the sources of the songs–this from “Golden Grass,” that from “More Golden Grass,” etc. Maybe they DID only release singles and greatest hits compilations.

  32. sammymaudlin


  33. Overheard at Rockestra recording session:

    Laurence Jubar: Ok, on this one Pete, just follow my lead.

    Pete Townshend: Fuck you.

  34. Mr. Moderator

    If The Grass Roots did not actually do it – and no one else has yet – some young band needs to kickstart their recording career with a debut entitled Greatest Hits.

  35. Steve Miller’s Sailor album is better than any greatest hits collection featuring those giant stinking turds of his that somehow became hits in the mid-70’s. Fly Like an Eagle? Good Christ.

  36. Good point. I don’t want to hear the GH I’ve-heard-too-many-times-on-the-radio of a group I’m not that into, even if it’s a real bargain. Rockin Me Baby? Jet Airliner? The Joker? Uh, no thanks, the first 1000 times were enough. I would like to hear Sailor, though.

  37. jeangray

    Yes! Those early Steve Miller albums totally disqualify him from this thread. Obviously mos’ of you dudes haven’t a-listened to ’em!

  38. ABBA! That’s one of the “double-discs” that I left off my list. I have no desire to own individual albums from them, but that collection does suffice. I can hear “Dancing Queen” but also “When All Is Said And Done.” It covers enough bases for me.

    What about Johnny Cougar?


  39. Might as well make my debut posting bow with this sacred cow…

    The Doors. Should just have a greatest hits 7″. Maybe “Touch Me” b/w “The Crystal Ship”.

    There you go.

    And I’ll go to bat any day for Wings Speed of Sound and Back to the Egg (given to me by my mother “the Easter bunny” back in 1980…). I’ll also argue for ABBA. And the Bee Gees.

    Carry on.

  40. Mr. Moderator

    Thanks for taking the plunge, beatmichael! Keep the good stuff coming.

  41. All you need from Chicago are greatest hits compilations. Their albums are interminable. A lot of the singles aren’t bad, though.

    RE: Steve Miller, “Brave New World” is definitely worth a listen. I love Paul McCartney’s guest vocal on “My Dark Hour.”

Apr 022007

A Trayful of The Iceman: Click image for iTunes Mix.

Jerry Butler, “You Make Me Feel Like Someone”

In conjunction with partner Curtis Mayfield, Jerry Butler was a Chicago soul architect and founding member of The Impressions before launching his solo career, initially with continued collaboration with Mayfield. “The Iceman,” as Butler was known, sang about the transformative powers of love with the best of them. He also sang about being a man, or a mensch, if that helps you understand what I’m saying without thinking in terms of blues-based braggadocio. I know these are among corniest, cliched, and suspect claims one will make regarding a musician in this day and age, but bear with me.

Following are two examples of Butler’s work on the Vee-Jay label.
Continue reading »


  3 Responses to “Chillin’ with The Iceman”

  1. hrrundivbakshi

    Mr. Mod — I wish I could see Jerry Butler’s work as something more than solid B+, *almost* first-tier pop/soul from an amazing era. I think all your non-musical reasons for loving the guy are right on, and I’m right with you. Furthermore, I gotta give mad props where they’re due on that Mercury material — it’s solid, for sure. *Very* solid. But his earlier Vee-Jay stuff seems a bit, I dunno, forced or something. The songwriting’s not tight enough for me, and Jerry sounds like he’s trying to paint lipstick on a pig.

    That “Lost” song is killer, though, for sure. “Need To Belong” is strong, too, I guess — just not classic material for me. But thanks — seriously — for sharing. I appreciated the sampler!

    Come on, RTH turds, show some respeck and give this stuff a listen!

  2. Mr. Moderator

    Thanks for checking it out, Hrrundi. I think a B+ is a fair grade. As you could appreciate, it’s the man’s Comments that make him stand out in my eyes.

    “Lost” is a killer! Glad you dug it.

  3. BigSteve

    I really enjoyed these tracks, especially the ones where you can hear Curtis’ guitar in the background. I just love his style so much. The one with the rocked up drums sounded pretty cool too. I saw Butler on TV no long ago, and he’s still got it. He looked great and sounded great.

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