Partly because we touched upon Best of and Greatest Hits albums in our recent discussion about file-sharing, mostly because Elvis Presley’s 30 #1 Hits started a two-week run at the top of the UK album chart on this day in 2002, a copy of which every household should own, I say…
Which, in your view, are the absolute must-have compilation albums? They can be an individual act’s retrospective, or, if you prefer, comprise of an assortment from different sources, but please try to list no more than ten.
In the US, the Greatest Hits of the Eagles and Billy Joel have amassed the most sales (platinum 29 and 21 times respectively). In the UK, it’s Queen and Abba.
Here are a few that I’d recommend:
– The Beatles, 1962-1966 (The Red Album)
– The Best of Sam Cooke
– The Hollies, Greatest Hits
– Michael Jackson, Number Ones
– John Lennon, Lennon Legend
– The Essential Roy Orbison
– The Very Best of Prince
– My Way: The Best of Frank Sinatra
– U2, The Best of 1980-1990
– Neil Young, Decade
Then there are the myriad, money-spinning, over-excited series, such as The Best X Album in the World… Ever! (The Best Air Guitar Album in the World… Ever! The Best Gregorian Chant Album in the World… Ever! The Best Sixties Love Album in the World… Ever! The Best Party Mega Mix Album in the World… Ever!) and Now That’s What I Call Music! (although, to be truthful, much of it falls some way short of matching my loose definition of what music is, but that’s just me).
Go on, browse your favourite online retailer, see if they’ll let you hone in on Compilations, and search by Most Popular or Best Sellers. You’ll be amazed at the catchy, if not sometimes nauseatingly dire titles that need an exclamation mark to make them sound interesting. In spite of the corny titles and over-use of bright colours, many contain three discs and, I feel, offer excellent value for money.
Take Elvis and his 30 #1 Hits, for example. A definite steal at £4.98 from Amazon UK – either on CD or as MP3s. 31 tracks, each priced at 69p. That’s a total of £21.39 should you be mad enough to miss the obvious way of making a saving.
Should complacent record labels lazily focusing on compilations share responsibility for falling profits with the widely-condemned practice of illegal downloading? At the same time, aren’t these bargain albums the ideal, cost-effective and above all, legal introduction to an artist’s career? A good case for cheaper individual downloads, perhaps… even if I can’t think of many things that you pay for once, keep forever* and enjoy again and again for the moderate sum of 69p, can you? Consider just how many albums you’d have to purchase – including the often obligatory filler – to get that same collection of tunes (lots in the case of Elvis – both albums and filler), and how much downloading each one on a track-by-track basis to build an identical compilation would cost.
* I know, I’ve also lost the right to play songs that I paid for fair and square.