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Ok I admit. I have a fair few 'best ofs' that have crept into my collection. I love music so much that often I hear stuff by people, mean to start listening to albums and somehow they get pushed aside.

To me my 'best of' cd's mean that yeah, I haven't got round to every album but at least I have hold of some of the music I love and maybe one day I can catch up.

For some 'best of' albums are musical crimes that stop people investing in the artsit as a whole picture and not just a bunch of singles.

Of course there is also the fact that best of albums are a very good way to rake the money in.

What is your opinion?

If you do have 'best of' albums which are your favourites and why?
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I think Best Of's are great. My first foray into CH was via Recurring Dream, just as my initial curiosity of the Enz was fed by a greatest hits disk. Sometimes that curiosity will lead to additional purchases; sometimes a B.O. is the destination -- I want those few songs, and I pretty much know I won't be investigating that artist any further.

Truth told, I don't consider B.O.'s to be that damaging to an artist because a lot of people who buy a B.O. aren't going to buy an individual album anyway. Or else the albums are out of print/hard to find, and you CAN'T buy them even if you wanted. In an ideological sense, selling 5 individual albums is better than selling one B.O., but the truth is that selling that one B.O. is better than selling nothing, which is what would be happening in a lot of these cases.

In the first example (using my CD collection), I think of something like Aerosmith (early, pre-rehab version). I'm not a HUGE Aerosmith fan, but I like just enough of their songs that a B.O. disk is just the right thing for me. But if the B.O. wasn't available I doubt I'd ever bother to run out and buy individual albums anyway, so I don't consider them to be losing a sale.

In the second case, would be something like XTC, Squeeze, or the Enz. Good luck even FINDING an Enz album in US stores, except the B.O. and maybe the occasional copy of "True Colours". So if you want to hear more of their stuff, you pretty much HAD to go with the B.O. (all of this is pre-Internet... things like iTunes change the discussion some).

And the other thing to consider is a B.O. lets you sample different phases of an artist's career as opposed to rolling the dice that you pick the right one off the bat. To use CH, I liked DDIO a lot, but if I had started with CH-I because it had DDIO on it, I'm not sure CH would have blown my doors off quite as powerfully as hearing DDIO and Fall At Your Feet and Distant Sun and realizing the depths of the boys' work.

At least a B.O. is ALL about that particular artist. What I will grant is worse is where they take an artist's big hit(s) and throw it on a compliation... That's TOTALLY depriving people of a chance to learn more about that artist.
I ended up with a lot of my "Best of..." CDs because when I got my first CD player, I had to replace my music---and it was wayyyy too expensive to get the whole catalog again. So that's how I got The Eagles, and Moody Blues, and Chicago and bands like that.

I have the whole CH/Finn/Enz list replaced on CD now though. There are a few albums I've purchased in vinyl, cassette and CD.

I don't like them, simply because my favourite songs by any artist are never their singles, and thus never make it onto the Best Of's. So really, when people buy Best Of's, (imho) they're always missing out, possibly on some really great stuff. But I can certainly understand buying them if you already own the other stuff on cassette or vinyl.
Lump me in with cost effectiveness when replacing albums and tapes. A couple of times BO albums encouraged me to explore the artist more. I enjoy listening to them in the car, as I don't have a multi disk player there. It cuts down on skipping tracks and swapping disk in and out. Sadly too many of them contain all you ever want to hear of an artist.
I have more 'best of' albums in my collection than I care to admit and although my collection is dominated by 'proper' albums, it is almost neck and neck between the two. I have tried to buy more 'proper' albums this year, but so far that hasn't happened. Most "mainstream" music shops only stock 'best of' albums for the older artists and don't bother to order in their classic albums. There's a lot of reasons why 'best of' albums sell better than 'proper' albums, including but not limited to the fact that they often have better packaging, better sound quality and more tracks. I guess the record companies have lately realised that classic albums are tending to be overlooked and perhaps have acted to counter this with multitudes of reissues of classic albums (e.g. Universal's 'Deluxe Edition' series, which features classic albums with heaps of extra material and a full bonus disc in all cases). I am kind of bothered that my music collection isn't as "pure" as it could be due to the glut of retrospectives I have, but sometimes you can't be bothered trying and/or buying half an artist's extensive back catalogue (if you can find any of it to begin with, that is!), only to find you've made a dud choice just because you don't know enough about the artist. This is where the 'best of' comes in. For example, imagine discovering Frank Zappa for the first time - 50+ official albums - where would you begin? There's millions of other artists like that too. Seems like compilations outnumber an artist's proper albums by a great number (e.g. Elvis) and this alone makes it easy to be cynical: oh no, another collection, all the same songs for the zillionth time in a different order with a 'previously unreleased [but crappy] remix' and at full price all over again. But, 'best of' albums can be a work of art; the first place to start; all that a music fan needs from a particular artist; that final album that a completist needs; or all of these and more. 'Best of' albums do have their place, like all the previous posts have mentioned, and serve an important purpose.

5 favourite 'best of' albums:

Bob Marley & The Wailers 'Legend'
Joy Division 'Substance 1977-1980'
The Beatles '1967-1970'
The Rolling Stones 'Hot Rocks 1964-1971'
Split Enz 'History Never Repeats'
I like Best Of's are crucial. I've got Best Of's by all manner of people from Buddy Holly and the Everlys through The Kinks and Rolling Stones right on to The Police and other 80's acts. More often than not its because I've heard the singles, liked them and don't want to buy 10 albums to acquire 10 singles I like. I don't think it's a crime not to want to go any deeper for some artists. (Also, don't forget that artists do - from time to time - issue singles that don't appear on their standard albums.)

I also agree that compilations are a great way in. I got into The Beatles because I loved the red and blue albums (and now I own just about everything they've ever issued and a whole bunch more besides). I think that applies for a lot of people and a lot of bands.

Also, they've often acted as the most successful record in a band's catalogue (eg Talk Talk). Even if it dilutes the purity of their work, it also brings them royalties which, lets be fair, they deserve.

Like all things in life, Best Of's are let down by the bad examples: the fifteenth Elvis Best Of (and the rest), the cheap cash in that provides little music and less quality packaging...
I'm a big fan of best of compilations for many of the reasons already said, but also because I like a lot of different types of music, but I can't get albums by everybody.

As a matter of fact, as I type this, I just realized that the CD's I have with me right now at work are virtually all Best Of's. Here's what I have with me:
The Very Best of Otis Redding, The Cars Complete Greatest Hits, The Very Best of Michael Mc Donald, The Best of Sam Cooke, The Best of Chet Baker Sings, The Best Of Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5, The Best of Earth Wind and Fire Volumes I and II, The Best of the Doobie Brothers, Luther Vandross Greatest Hits, and Al Green's Greatest Hits. It would really be hard to own every album by every different artist I have here!
I think that best of's allow you to appreciate a lot of different types of music and if I want to further delve into an artist's catalogue, at least I have a starting point.
I only buy "best of" cd's strictly for one of 4 reasons only-

1. for long trips in my car.
2. for shotty artists (not deserving of my $ to buy individual cd's for 1 or 2 songs) that only have a minimum of songs that I like.
3. the off chance that there is a new song added to this "best of" cd that i actually like, and can't get any other way.
4. for the fact that I don't have the luxury of time to burn a greatest hits cd out of what i already own.
I find Best Ofs a good way to try a particular artist, a lot of the artists I like I try with a best of at first with varying results:

1. Become a HUGE fan and have all versions of albums that are in reach (Split Enz, which spawned off my Crowded House fandom as well)

(David Bowie, Pink Floyd (went straight to albums) and Roxy Music all fall in-between Catergories 1 and 2, whilst I still listen to them from time-to-time, they haven't really stuck, but I still think it wsas worth going through their catalogues).

2. Gets to the 'I want more!' stage but when you've got some more and listened to it for a couple of months, you find it isn't that great in the long run (The Police) Still listen to their best of though!.

3. Like it but unconvinced to explore more (The Kinks, especially with their ULTIMATE collection, which really was ULTIMATE (44 tracks for only AUD$12!)

More recently, I have taken an approach with not getting a best of and instead taking a dive into the catalogue (Genesis, King Crimson, Bruce Springsteen, ELP, Yes, Australian Crawl), only Crimson, Crawl and the Boss worked out in the long run.

So Best Ofs I recommend to someone trying out an artist for the first time, but if you really want to get into something, read reviews on a music site such as or Amazon, listen to audio samples on iTunes or Amazon, then pick the album you'll think you'll like the most. I wouldn't recommend a best of for a progressive rock band, as they tend to fail to deliver the purpose.
"Best Of" albums definitely do it for me. The original version of History Never Repeats was my first train to Enzsville in 1992...and what a great first trip it was! Several dozen trips later...

Hey Joe...that double LP you speak of is one of the best Enz collections ever released. Thoughtfully assembled (by the legendary Glenn A. Baker, no less) and nicely packaged.
Generally, I'm with semi-detached on this one - I usually buy best ofs to get the main songs I like from an artist whilst avoiding jumping into an album only to find its a complete dud. This has happened to me a couple of times, and I've often come back to the artist via a best of!

Personally, I discovered many of favourite artists via best ofs. I wouldn't be writing here if I hadn't come across Recurring Dream in a library. Also the Beatles' Red and Blue albums, Bob Seger, Creedence, MJ, the Stones, and 10cc to name a few.

If I like an artist enough I'll usually try and get as much of their back catalogue as possible. Otherwise, I'll settle for a best of, maybe an acclaimed album, or supplement that by getting individual songs off the net.
Best ofs are a great starting point. My first Crowded House cd was Recurring dream. I also copied a Split enz Best of to learn to love them.

But after I get started on an artist I buy the albums and never listen to the best ofs again. I love albums, good albums are so good to attach memories of a certain time to. Best ofs generally lack that quality.

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