Greatest Songs?

On my work this last week I was listening to a Nirvana song (likely Teen Spirit) and realized that I had yet to own an album of theirs. I don’t know what it is, but for some reason I never cared for Nirvana in the 90s during the height of grunge. I liked grunge, just not theirs. For some reason now, I really like them though. They have grown on me, either that or I too am a bandwagon jumper and have decided like everyone else to proclaim Kurt Cobain’s genious only after he has died. At any rate, I decided that I really want to go out and own some of their albums, or at the very least one.

Krist Novoselic, Kurt Cobain and Chad Channing during the early Nirvana yearsThis got me to thinking. What album do I buy anyway? Do I go with the classic Nevermind? Or do I try out one of the less popular albums. One thing is that because Cobain died, there really aren’t a ton to choose from in the first place, but it still is a tough choice. At the end of the day, I decided it probably would suit me best if I just got the Greatest HIts album “Nirvana.”

However, this thought got me thinking a whole new set of issues. I started wondering just why in the first place we get these Greatest Hits albums? A lot of the times these songs are indeed the reason we buy previous albums in the first place, and thus is often redundant to rerelease them on a new album. Albeit this is also very convenient for those of us who missed it the first time around or those who may only have liked the hits and ended up buying all the albums previously; this would be more convenient to listen to songs.

The thing that is missed here is that more often than not, the best songs of a band are not hits, or even released to the general radio stations. In nearly every album of a band that I’ve really loved, there has been one or two songs that I just absolutely love. And this brought on the idea of a Greatest Songs album instead of Greatest Hits. Yes, this album would have many of the hits that the band had over its lifespan that people really liked that made it to the radio. But it would also contain some of those lesser known songs that were equally good, if not better.

Beastie Boys outside KXLU Studios in 1985This idea has been done to some degree in the past, but I do wish it was done far more. I think the better try at this was the Beastie Boys with their Science of Sleep album that was essentially a Greatest Hits album mixed with their favorite mixes and unreleased songs. There were also a few songs on there that were on previous albums, but never hits. I think they completely got the idea.

A Greatest Hits album isn’t necessarily bad though. Like I said they have their purposes. Especially for bands who have tons of albums and tons of hits. I don’t think that anyone can complain about the recent release of the Beatles Greatest Hits entitled “1.” But if you buy that, imagine all the great songs you are missing out on that never made it to the mainstream, many of which endured the test of time far better than those that hit the #1 spot, many turned out to be some of the better songs the Beatles ever did.