A few weeks ago, a Facebook friend of mine posted a simple query: Tell me of some greatest-hits/singles comps that somehow became as (or more) essential as the artists' LPs. I chimed in, as did several dozen others. What resulted was a series of "why didn't I think of that?" moments, along with a handful of "how have I never heard of that?" shockers. It was an interesting exercise, and it got me feeling a bit self-reflexive about my own relationship with greatest hits albums.
Photo by Jason Persse via Flickr Yo La Tengo's Ira Kaplan in 2010
For a long time I thought they were the lazy way out, even though I own a few. As I scrolled through the list that emerged on my friend's wall, offering my own examples as they popped into my head, I realized that I'd somehow formed an opinion that runs somewhat counter to my own habits.
As I mentally checked boxes, forced to think about why I own the comps I own, I settled on a set of rules for deciding whether or not a comp album is a worthwhile buy. Based on that rubric, here are a few albums suitable for the casual listener and obsessive fans alike.More »