When Alan Partridge gave a knowing smile and said his favorite Beatles album was “The Best of The Beatles”, the joke was on you. It was immediately obvious to anyone with even a passing knowledge of the Fabs compilation discography that there was no Greatest Hits album by that name. Among real Fans of the Beatles, Alan preferring “The Best Of The Beatles” was in fact an obscure sign of the cult connoisseur.

According to Discogs, it was referring to either an unofficial four-track 7 inch called “The Best Of The Beatles” released only in Thailand in 1966, containing the more experimental tracks from “Revolver”; a rare and valuable 1969 Taiwanese pressing of the Red album; or, most likely, the 1971 solo album “Best Of The Beatles” by the band’s original drummer, Pete Best. Alan was not turning out to be a part-time Beatles employee at all, but an avid collector, an appreciator of the depths, roots and dark recesses of the Beatles’ global diaspora. Not someone who realized how meta ‘Glass Onion’ was and stopped there, this guy listened to the entire fucking John & Yoko wedding album, on import , and said to himself ‘now this is the band the Beatles could have been.

Maybe by making fun of Alan instead of the bell boy Ben, you’ve fallen for the “Greatest Hits snobbery” that Alex Kapranos identified this week, announcing the upcoming best of “Hits To The” Head ”by Franz Ferdinand. For decades, they’ve been associated with ubiquitous traditional idiots cashing in on Christmas, but not for Alex. “I love Greatest Hits records! ” he said NME. “I grew up with Greatest Hits records. My parents didn’t have a collection of 4000 vinyl records. They had best-ofs, they had Greatest Hits, they had Bowie’s ‘Changes’. They didn’t have a “Low”, they didn’t have a “Lodger” – and that was enough for them. “

“They just wanted to hear the best songs,” he continued, “they just wanted to hear the hits. It’s great. If that’s all they wanted to hear, if that’s all they want to hear. needed to hear these artists, so damn it – you enjoy that! But also, those records were something else. That’s what it was to them, but for me it was an introduction: it was that door through which I could enter the world of these artists.

I’m with Kapranos Jr. While I have occasionally tried compilations of singles like East 17, 10cc or Leo Sayer (I was seven, m’lud) only to get all the nostalgic heavy hitters together in one place, for me Greatest Hits records have always been akin to a one-act tasting menu, a chance to sample signature dishes before deciding to order everything from the gold-covered menu and spending the rest of my life metaphorically posting the receipt. on Insta. T Rex, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Kate Bush and, yes, The Beatles – all acts I’ve fallen in love with for life on those sonic speed dates.

Greatest Hits’ compositions aren’t just hallways laden with gold records to sprawling palaces of delight. They are also an opportunity to check the decor for signs of damp. If a band’s collection of singles can barely handle a dozen solid crackers and start chipping around the edges by track eight, then their album load is going to rival the depths of “DONDA” for the throwaway. . And even that’s a big tick for the ‘best of’ – you get all the songs you’re going to love, knowing that you’ve saved time and (ten years ago) money without worrying about the ‘Script For A ‘by Marillion Tear of the jester’.

In fact, if the line-up is even roughly chronological – which all respectable blockbuster albums should be – they act as a crash course in history and the development of an act allowing you to identify eras as you like. most want to explore further. This is where you’ll find out if you’re more Syd Barrett staggering on a psychedelic jelly bike or Roger Waters scratching his eyes over his old school photos. Or if you’d rather listen to modern day Radiohead or the band in their young and carefree “sod it lads”, let’s do a chorus on this day. There is an old rhyme that rarely fools listeners: Albini is at the office, looking at the rest; Mel C is the guest here, stay away.

I even came up with the idea of ​​bands releasing a few new songs, a cynical marketing ploy to get diehard fans to shell out again for the music they already scooped up in the CD era, but one way Forgivable for stirring up interest in their lap of honor now that we can broadcast the new ones anyway. And with the algorithm effectively feeding us a constant stream of the most popular songs from any artist we show minimal interest in, we now live in a world of the greatest hits – why fight it?

Most of the best-selling albums of all time are best of: The Eagles, ABBA, Bob Marley, Queen, Madonna, The Beatles. So let’s celebrate them as the hallmark of success and longevity that they are; not storage filling the consumerist tattoo of sold-out, but something groups can aspire to. Even Wolf Alice, on one of the best albums of 2021, screams “Play the greatest hits!”After all, not all of us can be as knowledgeable as Partridge…



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