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Dr. Spin’s Greatest Hits

Dr. Spin compiles letters on compilations.

by Dr. Spin
August 26, 2002

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Dr. Spin’s Greatest Hits_Dr. Spin-Dr. Spin compiles letters on compilations. Dear Dr. Spin,

It's kind of weird, but when I lived in Canada as a kid I'd hear classics of the great Canadian band Guess Who. I requested and received the "Greatest of the Guess Who" on vinyl for my birthday in my teenage years.

Then I moved to the United States and heard two songs by the band on classic rock radio that were rarely played in Canada and not on my album: "No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature" and "Share the Land."

A couple of years later, I bought a CD, "The Best of the Guess Who" that included many of the familiar hits from my previous collection but also included these two "new" songs that had become favorites. Unfortunately, the remaining songs were not very good; not nearly on par with "Greatest" selections "Star Baby," Glamour Boy" "Clap For the Wolfman" "Albert Flasher" and "Shakin' All Over."

But there's hope, isn't there? With lengthier CD's, bands have more room to throw in the good stuff. That's what the Cars recently did in their recent CD version of their best. Their initial vinyl "Greatest Hits" left out gems like "Bye Bye Love," and, if I recall, "You're All I've Got Tonight." Now, they're included. So for everyone frustrated with inadequate "Greatest Hits" compilations, isn't the best advice is to just be patient?

-Billy
Long Island, NY


Dear Billy,

I don’t know why different “greatest hits” compilations have different songs. In this case I can only speculate that the Guess Who’s greatest hits in Canada were different than those in the U.S.A., and maybe “No Sugar Tonight” was bigger in the U.S. than “Star Baby.”

As far as hoping for a “greatest hits” collection that truly lives up to its reputation, your best bet is to buy every CD of a group and create your own. For more on this keep reading…


Dear Dr. Spin,

The Rolling Stones' reputation rests on five great albums and a train of great singles spanning 1964-1981. "Hot Rocks," the 2-CD compilation of hits from 1964 through 1971, is a must-have for any casual fan of the band.

Where is the "Hot Rocks" for the years 1972 through 1981? I know my 70's hits via classic rock radio, but can't seem to find a post-'71 greatest hits package that would include such obvious choices like "Heartbreaker (doo doo doo),"
"Shattered," or "She's So Cold."

What's up with that? Who wouldn't buy a Stone's Greatest Hits 1972-81?

-Jim


Dear Jim,

I can think of quite a few people who wouldn’t want a Rolling Stones’ greatest hits package 1972-1981, but most of them are over 60.

Aside from that, I am right with you. If ever there were a greatest hits package begging to be released, it is a Stones’ package covering the years 1972 through 1981. There have been several “Greatest Hits” packages released that cover portions of those years (“Rewind,” “Flashpoint,” and the aptly named “Sucking in the Seventies”), but none have really covered all the definitive hits of this period. Perhaps Mick & Co. fear a true greatest hits package of this time would make many of the albums released during the seventies obsolete.


Dear Dr. Spin,

I bought the Dire Straits CD "Love Over Gold" only because it had the bands' greatest recording, "Industrial Disease." That song was left out of both of the band's "greatest hits" compilations – despite the fact that aside from one year (1985) the band never dominated the singles chart, yet I heard "Industrial Disease" quite often on the radio in the 80's - more so than other songs that appear on those greatest hits discs. What makes a song a hit, let alone a "greatest hit?"

-Mark


Dear Mark

I have no idea how record executives think, so I have no idea how they compile “greatest hits’ packages, but I will try to explain the process as best I can.

“Greatest Hits” are the highest chart-topping songs of an artist, and a few really popular songs, minus that one favorite that you wish it had. “The Best of” has a bunch of your favorite songs that weren’t necessarily hits, including that one favorite song, minus that other song that you really liked. “The Very Best of” has neither.

Why do record companies do this? This way they guarantee that you’ll buy the greatest hits package plus that album that has the only song you wish the “greatest hits” included but didn’t. For years I have been trying to get a “definitive” greatest hits package of the Doors; one that included both “Peace Frog” and “Five to One.” I finally found it on the album “Weird Scenes Inside the Goldmine,” which has been out of print for over two decades.

But we can beat these record companies at their own game! What you do is buy all the albums of an artist, make your own “greatest hits” packages, then sell all the records to a used record store! That will show those money-grubbing marketers, we the buying public cannot be fooled by some slick “greatest hits” package!


Dear Dr. Spin,

Did you see the movie "I am Trying to Break Your Heart" about the band Wilco, and, if so, what did you think of it?

-Jeff

Chicago, IL

Dear Jeff,

I thought it was very good; a parable for the modern music world. But I’m waiting for “Wilco’s Greatest Hits” to come out.

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