The End Of The Greatest Hits Compilation
Doing UK’s Top Ten, I noticed Elton John’s latter day greatest hits, Diamonds Deluxe was back in. A useless product with the first album a strong set, the second album a not strong set, and the third album much, much worse. They don’t compare to the 1974 Elton John’s Greatest Hits Volume one, or 1977’s Elton John’s Greatest Hits Volume Two. Put I and II together and they are less than half the size of Diamonds and twice as good. I wore em out.
Undoubtedly, the song placement and the record flow on both I and II are magnificent, they fit like a single hit on your pleasure spot, hit after hit and songs you know and love and they fit like a glove. They are early cornerstones of Elton’s career that we knew as albums, not as playlists. Diamonds is a useless mess.
The same is true of Eagles: Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975, Simon And Garfunkels’ Greatest Hits, Prince’s The Hits One… these are all albums that you listen and can hear the songs flow. Eagles is sneaky great, from “Lyin’ Eyes” to “Already Gone” is the only thing that makes sense, and the extended coda from “Peaceful Easy Feeling” to “The Best Of My Love” is a beautiful end that send you straight back to Side One’s first track “Take It Easy”.
It doesn’t happen anymore, Queen’s Greatest Hits is a masterpiece and now they are extending what doesn’t need tpo be and shouldn’t be extended. Both the length of CDs and then the ubiquity of streaming has killed off good greatest hits, The Weeknd is the only artist to resurrect it in any real way. Now the concept of just the hits is over, the Greatest Hits collection should be a relentless pleasure zone, but today everything is an extension, an adding of song after song after song, outtakes, live cuts, alternate cuts. It kills the reason, it kills the hits album as artistic concept.