Posts Tagged ‘Greatest Hits Records

01
May
11

David Bowie “ChangesOneBowie”

This record, which came out in 1976, seems to want to mark a change from sci-fi androgynous freak to good-looking mature artist, but it just rubs me the wrong way. It comes off more as midlife crisis, even though Bowie should have been much too young for that. It’s essentially a “greatest hits” record that doesn’t have a cheesy title like “Ladies and Gentlemen, The Very Best of…” But rather than approach it in context of the records the songs came from, I have to (I mean right now, for the sake of writing this) listen to it as the complete and unique art object it is.

“Space Oddity” is pure nostalgia for me, like everyone is sick of me rehashing. Blacklight posters and rootbeer incense and bad pot. But it’s just a good song, right? I’m sure there is a story behind “John, I’m Only Dancing” but I don’t care, because I can’t listen to it because it’s crap. Though, I would, some day, love to write a song with the title, John, comma, something. “John, Help Me To A Toilet So I Can Throw Up,” or something. “Changes” is a great song, and I suppose worth creating this particular record to get it out to the record buying public in a new format. “Ziggy Stardust” and “Suffragette City”–more nostalgia, but this time there is beer drinking involved. Whenever “Jean Genie” comes on, I’m just glad it’s the last song of Side One so I can take it off without listening to it and go directly to Side Two. White blues, but really white, and not blues at all.

Everyone who knows me is sick to death of me talking about how “Diamond Dogs” is one of maybe six favorite songs of all time. For some strange reason I just NEVER GET TIRED OF IT. I made the mistake, once, however, of looking up the lyrics on the internet, which almost ruined it for me, because they were NOT CLOSE to what I’ve been imagining all these years. I’ve been slowly deprogramming myself to go back to the way I used to hear it. “You’re dead,  they call them the Diamond Dogs.” Maybe it’s the cowbell, maybe it’s the way it sounds like the soundwaves are coming through some kind of viscous fluid. Maybe it’s nostalgia. I wouldn’t mind, however, NEVER hearing “Rebel Rebel” ever again. “Young Americans” has that 1980’s, Saturday Night Live, vapid entertainment sound. I think of Chicago (the city), comedy clubs, and those big pretzels, which, last time I ate one, I threw up. “Fame” is up next, White Funk, but REALLY white, and not funky at all. “Golden Years” is like a non-song with a non-hook, played as blandly as possible, and pretty much the perfect fit to end this record. It occurs to me that the lyrics might be interesting if I listened to them– after all, how do you justify calling a song “Golden Years?”– but I can’t even listen to the lyrics because I can’t listen to the song.

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18
Apr
08

Aerosmith “Aerosmith’s Greatest Hits”

It’s 1980 and time to be old. This record looks like they were feeling old, or else being pressured to pay their coke bill. There are enough good songs from their 2nd and 3rd album to make a single greatest hits record, sure, but the problem is trying to come up with songs from the rest of them. Though, actually, “Dream On,” which starts this collection, sounds better to me now than it ever did. “Last Child,” from Rocks, which I’ve never heard before, sounds okay. “Back In The Saddle,” however, is something I’m afraid I HAVE heard before but had stored in some dark recess of my mind where things like images of repair guys’ butt cracks and squashed animals, and backed up public toilet smells, and TV shows from my childhood go, hopefully never to be dredged up.

Even as late as the late 1970s, I guess popular musicians weren’t able to escape the Lennon/McCartney cover curse, as in EVERYONE had to do one, and they are usually the most unlistenable songs on the record. “Come Together” isn’t horrible, it’s pretty much exactly like The Beatles version but about ten percent less fresh. That they included “Kings and Queens” on this record completely baffles me, but hey, a few days ago I’d NEVER heard it, and now I’ve listened to it several times, so I guess the jokes on me! “Remember (Walking in the Sand)” could pretty much mark the beginning of the Eighties, lamest decade of all time, or the End of Rock’n’roll, or the end of Aerosmith, or the end of all humanity, or it could just be a series of bad decisions (writing it, learning it, playing it, recording it, putting it on a record, putting it on THIS record).

The best two songs, “Sweet Emotion” and “Walk This Way” happen to be from Aerosmith’s best record, Toys in the Attic. This is why I love the internet; listening to “Walk This Way” compelled me to search for “cowbells in music” and I pretty much spent a couple of hours then reading crazy people writing about how great the cowbell is, including in this song. Of course, I agree– and I’ve always thought that little cowbell bit was what made a good song a great song. Boy, they really knew how to not overdo it, on this song, as excessive as it is in many ways.

You always have to wonder what it would be like to do some kind of art, like say playing rock music, and suddenly find yourself a commodity. To have some completely soulless money counters putting out a “greatest hits” of your work. I mean, I can’t imagine how weird it must feel! This record kind of documents, for me, the problem of the whole endeavor. Listen to side one, then side two—it’s an amazing illustration of what LEAN sounds like, and what BLOATED sounds like, side by side.




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