Denver Bar Association
October 2005
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The Best of the 'Best Of' Compilations

by Greg Rawlings

Like many oldsters who had to switch from LPs to CDs back in the ’80s, I stocked up on the many handy best ofs/greatest hits compilations, as a miserly way to restock my music lair. Some were old loves (The Beatles, "1962–1966"; "Worst of the Jefferson Airplane"; The Who, "Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy"), while others were newer infatuations, such as compilations of The Flying Burrito Brothers, Alex Chilton and The Smiths. Over the passing years, I grew less enamored of such collections, and shied away from them, preferring used versions of individual albums. Still, on occasion, I’d venture across a compilation that really hit the spot, often in love-at-first-listen fashion — sometimes at a party, sometimes just hitting the listening booths at one of our excellent local independent record stores. The following list contains the most choice among these discoveries. All of these artists have made splendid individual albums, and all are, in general, highly accessible. I also note one individual album for the more intrepid of you at the end of each of the capsule reviews. Enjoy.

There are certainly many other top-flight compilations, anthologies, best ofs, greatest hits collections, etc., but in this age of the remixed and remastered hyper-inclusive box sets, the simple one or two disk album of an artist’s finest material may be on its death bed. I hope not, and the albums above are conclusive proof why this little blast from the past is still a valid exercise.


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