The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

10 May 2007

The way they do the things they do

Usually inscrutable, it is:

Without fail, as soon as I buy a "The Best Of..." compact disc, the artist whose collection of greatest hits I've just purchased will invariably release a "The Very Best Of..."

Besides superior re-packaging, these annoying new CD's usually feature exactly the same track-list as the original, except that ten extra songs will have been included at no extra cost. Sometimes even a whole second disc will be added, often with multi-media elements and a free tee-shirt offer.

Obviously this unhappy situation is rather ironic, since logically you would assume that such an exclusive sounding item as a "The Very Best Of..." should surely contain less music than a plain old, undiscriminating "The Best Of...", not more.

Indeed. And while we're on the subject, how exactly does The Best Of differ from Greatest Hits, anyway?

As it happens, my automotive music for yesterday was a C-90 I recorded circa 1992, crammed reasonably full of Temptations tracks. This is not too difficult a task, since the Tempts charted fifty-five titles on Billboard, not counting joint efforts with other Motown acts; the hard part, of course, is cutting all that down to an hour and a half (or even less on a CD). The advantage, just as obvious, is that you get to hear them all again while you make your selections.

To see what might be considered Greatest Hits these days, I consulted iTunes, and lo and behold, the range is even narrower than I feared. (Then again, your local oldies station might play "My Girl" and "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" and "Beauty Is Only Skin Deep," maybe; forget those other 52 tracks.)

And now, needless to say, I'm going to have to work up a Temptations compilation CD, which will, I suppose, be the contents of this tape minus 12 minutes or so. Earlier in the week I was listening to a Marvin Gaye tape, which deserves similar treatment. (Perhaps to follow: Supremes and/or Four Tops packages.)

Update, 13 May: Presenting: Surrounded by Temptations.

Posted at 7:52 PM to Tongue and Groove


Greatest Hits would have to have been hits, somehow, whereas Best Of could also include the best filler songs?

Posted by: Brian J. at 8:52 AM on 11 May 2007

This seems at least reasonable, though everything that isn't deemed filler seems to be rushed out as a single anyway.

I tend to be appreciative of efforts to come up with synonyms that don't seem utterly pretentious (cf. Emerson, Lake and Palmer's Works). "Weird Al" Yankovic's box set, Permanent Record, is, I think, a good example.

Posted by: CGHill at 9:14 AM on 11 May 2007

It still irks me that I can't get "Angel Baby," by Rosie and the Originals, from iTunes. What a great record.

And Charles, I know we've discussed this before, but I still find it amusing that those old Dunhill artists all managed to have "16 Greatest Hits."

Posted by: Craig at 10:39 AM on 11 May 2007

Dunhill did some very odd things. For some reason, all of Three Dog Night's LPs had catalog numbers ending in 8, starting with One (50048) and ending with Joy to the World: Their Greatest Hits (50178). (The alleged Dog Style LP, supposedly issued as 50198, has never actually materialized anywhere I know of.)

Posted by: CGHill at 8:59 PM on 11 May 2007