Tag: Anthology

Day 998: Crossing Abbey Road

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This Friday marks the 45th anniversary of what I believe to be the greatest album of all time.

Before you flick lint in my beer or pelt me with wads of Big League Chew for not designating this title to Pink Floyd’s Piper At The Gates of Dawn or Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ Too-Rye-Ay, allow me to point out that there are many albums that are flawless – sometimes in spite of a number of actual flaws. Nary a wayward note blemishes Stevie Wonder’s Songs In The Key of Life, and Paul Simon’s Graceland is among the few utterly perfect slabs of 1980’s vinyl. For me, “the greatest” combines not only artistic and technical brilliance, but the subjective distinction of having served as the soundtrack to many of the most fantastic moments of my life. Your results may (and probably do) vary.

The story of Abbey Road is one of pure, primal mirth, flecked with auburn specks of encroaching melancholy. It is the last glorious and romantic trip to Maui for an otherwise doomed marriage. It marks the greatest rock band in history (an assertion I’ll stand by as wholly factual) producing one final brushstroke upon their legacy before heading their separate ways.

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This is not a happy group.

In January of 1969, the Beatles were moving in four different directions, and had been for over a year. Their plan was to return to the studio, record a back-to-their-roots album, perform their first concert since the summer of 1966 (the Pyramids in Egypt were a proposed locale, as was a barge adrift in the Atlantic), and film it all for posterity. This attempt to reconnect resulted in a cavalcade of arguments, the grandiose concert reduced to a noon-hour gig on the roof, and the temporary quitting of George Harrison. Read more…

Day 454: Topping The Market, Part II

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The beauty of what some call ‘useless trivia’ is in its ephemeral nature. The facts and statistics under this heading are fleeting and transitory, often surpassed or rendered obsolete before they’ve made their way through the populace. Yet the good ones will merit a raised eyebrow, a muttered “huh”, or – at best – a thousand words of prose from a guy with a deadline. In that sense, such “useless” trivia belies its name. Yesterday’s mention of the Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore topping the list of most expensive buildings held my attention for a period of time greater than a shoe-tie and less than a pint of beer – moderate, yes. But useless? Hardly.

With this feeble sense of purpose I return once again to this exercise in curiosity-poking. What other chart-toppers represent the most expensive in their field? So far the ‘why’ remains mostly elusive (though the massive rooftop infinity pool on the Marina Bay Sands is a pretty solid ‘why’), but I’m not one to speculate on such matters.

I just report the facts; figuring ‘em out ain’t my gig.

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The highest-priced books read like a logical list of what the highest-priced books should be: Shakespeare’s First Folio, an original Gutenberg Bible, an original exemplar of the Magna Carta… all rare tomes, all worthy of the prestige of costing as much as it would take to feed a starving African nation for a month. But none are worth more than this baby. Read more…

Day 297: The Ultimate Best Of Greatest Hits Gold Collection

As a young aspiring music snob, I was taught to shun the Greatest Hits album. I was told to aspire to find the brilliant album tracks, to let the unwashed masses scramble over each other to merely settle for hearing the radio hits. I might have dismissed such blatant snootery, but the Beatles ruined it for me. Once I learned that they had album tracks like “And Your Bird Can Sing” or “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” that put hits like “Yellow Submarine” and “Eight Days A Week” to shame, I tossed my Red & Blue compilation double-records into the fire and went hunting for the proper albums.

So when Ms. Wiki dropped the idea of Compilation Albums by Artist onto today’s playlist, I was skeptical. I’d spent so many years wanting nothing to do with compilation albums. There were some I needed to buy of course – when jerk-ass Tom Petty released his Greatest Hits album in 1994, it was the only way to own the song “Mary Jane’s Last Dance”, and I’d developed an unhealthy addiction to that tune through its radio airplay and cleverly necrophilic video. So that meant I owned two copies of “Free Fallin’”, “Refugee” and all those other songs. Thanks a lot, Petty.

Oh, I could never stay mad at you.

There are 398 artists listed as having compilation albums. Seems like a great way to do some quick investigating into the phenomenon.

The beautiful thing about Greatest Hits albums is that you can release entirely new ones every few years, and no one will notice. Some will become monster hits – the Eagles’ Greatest Hits (1971-1975) is certified at 29x multi-platinum, and was the greatest selling album of all time for a while. But most of the time people will fail to notice if the collections get replaced by new ones. Some 70s artist released an album of new material in 1996? Okay, let’s put out a new greatest hits album with the one single (that no one liked) from the new album. People will still buy it, even if they just want the old hits that were actually good. Read more…