A Sad Lament On The “Greatest Hits” Compilations Of The 1970’s

The 1970’s produced the best “Best Of” packages, bar none. Yes, the CD age and its extended time has increased the size of the package, but as the old adage goes “size really doesn’t matter; it’s how you use it.” These compilations may be seen as quaint nowadays, but back then they were invaluable in my and many others musical education, integral in introducing important artists to us via baiting us with the poppiest from a particular artists oevre. From there we would delve ever deeper, of course, and recognize that these confections were only the icing on the cake and that the real tasty goodness lies within the so-called ‘deep’ tracks. But they served a purpose, as a gateway to greater treasures, if you will.

Not sure if that’s true today, though.

80 minutes is too much, even for a greatest hits package, unless of course you’re The Who, The Beatles, The Stones or The Kinks, Bowie or Elton John. That said, not even Bowie or Elton John can rightfully fill a double CD “best of”. Oh, they try, as many do, but the main issue I have with, say, the double EJ best of, is that it spans way too long a time frame and includes stuff I couldn’t care less about. Do I want to own the Lion King soundtrack? Hell no! And as far as EJ’s music is concerned I really have no interest post 1975’s Captain Fantastic.

But go back to EJ’s first Greatest Hits package and it’s a tight and extremely enjoyable affair, focusing on the very best of the best. Sure, it leaves off Tiny Dancer and Levon, but those weren’t ‘hits’; and although their stature has improved with time, back then they were seen as mere album tracks.

ChangesONEbowie is another favorite; nothing but the best and a perfect introduction to a very important artist.

Wings Greatest Hits is another great one.

Neil Young’s Decade, even though it is a ‘double’ (originally a triple LP!) and contains over 100 minutes of music, is a perfect encapsulation of the man and his early songs. A gateway to greater treasures.

Alice Cooper’s first Greatest Hits package tells you pretty much all you need to know about the original Alice Cooper Group and what made them so worthwhile, before Cooper himself went all schmaltzy (although Welcome To My Nightmare and Flush The Fashion remain absolute classics).

I could go on and on, but what do you think? Is more really more? Or do you agree with this nostalgic take on comps?