My name is Mike. I live in Lancsater County. I used to live in Hawaii. i like Burritos, Guitars and Stuff.
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As a teenager in Frederick Maryland, my Saturday afternoons were spent downtown at a used record store called the Music Trader. I would go down there to reunite myself with Monkees albums that I lost as a child, and to hear about this “mythical” band called The Amboy Dukes who featured my guitar hero at the time Ted Nugent. When the owner was in the shop, the musical faire would most often be the blues. The man knew all about it. I had an appreciation for it. Johnny Winter was the reason I learned my first guitar chord at 12. But I’d always looked at much of the blues from my peripheral vision, or hearing. Johnny Winter and Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac were my favorite blues musicians. Getting a job at a radio station in the late 1980’s would further my love for the blues, since the morning show were avid blues fans. While working there, I was given a copy of the latest Stevie Ray Vaughan release “In Step”. I remember getting this disc the same day that I picked up Joe Satriani’s Flying In A Blue Dream disc. Listening to music that night, I couldn’t help but to notice that the SRV disc was going to be the CD that I’d be listening to a lot of. While I enjoyed the Satriani album, “In Step” was made of timeless stuff. Not only that, this was an important album for Stevie. He was finally clean and sober. This album was SRV at his brightest and best. At that moment, I was a fan of Stevie’s. My appreciation for the blues, now reignited more than ever.
Stevie and I share a birthday of October 3. We both love Fender Stratocasters. That was where most of our similarities ended. I always felt a kinship with him, even though I am not qualified to carry his case. I was happy that he’d gotten his life back together and was making the best music of his life.
For most of my broadcast career, necessity has dictated that I work another job. One late August day, I was in a warehouse in Harrisburg getting ready to load up the work van to deliver auto parts to my route. The radio broke in to deliver the news that late the previous night in Wisconsin, a helicopter went down shortly after an Eric Clapton show, and that was all they knew. No names of passengers, some speculation that Eric may have been on board. No “real” information other than a downed helicopter. Soon, the news drifted in that Eric Clapton was OK, and a little while later the news about Stevie. He was dead. Right when things got better in his life, it was over.
I try not to remember the days that people died. I much rather think of them on their birthdays, and celebrate the way they lived, not mourn how they died. Stevie’s death is hard for me not to think of. His and John Lennon’s death were sudden, violent and tragic. I have to take pause.
Tonight I’m listening to Stevie. Missing him, and looking forward to our birthday when I’ll once again celebrate my life by celebrating his.
A lot of music collectors look down on the Greatest Hits album, the Best Of Compilation and the “Singles” collections of our favorite recording artists. Oddly enough, much hullabaloo has been bandied about for the lofty and occasionally bloated “box set’.
There are greatest hits collections that serve as little more than a contractual obligation album. Ted Nugent’s Great Gonzos comes to mind. Epic records needed one more album from Terrible Ted, they rounded about 45 minutes worth of music and tossed it into the marketplace.
One of the more interesting greatest hits strategies that I witnessed was from Badfinger. In 1990 Rhino records released The Best Of Badfinger Vol. 2, covering their recorded output from 1974 to 1980. It would be another five years before Capitol (Apple) records would release “The Best Of Badfinger” covering their recorded output from the first half of their career.
There are some bands I just don’t have the time to chase around. Many recorded artists in my music collection have been scaled down to a “Best Of Playlist” in my iTunes. Soundgarden, John Mayer, Dave Matthews and Kenny Chesney all have a “go to” greatest hits collection that I draw up when I want to listen to them. The nice thing is, I decide what a “great hit” is and what ain’t.
Below is a list of “Greatest Hits” albums that I think were done right..
Being a dyed in the wool Monkees fan that I am, I have to hold their original Greatest Hits album in very high regard.
For me, this album had everything. Released in 1969, the pre-fab four were falling out of favor with the record buying public. Things were not going well in the band. Peter Tork had left the group that year. This is a look back at the best of times. But we weren't looking back.
This was my Holy Grail of Monkees records.
The Monkees Golden Hits was a hard album to get. You could not just roll into a record store and buy it. No.. You had to save up box tops from Post cereals and send it a few bucks,which my Mom did out of the goodness of her heart. I waited every day by the mailbox for this to arrive. And when it did, it arrived in two pieces. I never got a good copy of this album, I did however create a digital version of this one to listen to. It's shorter than the original Greatest Hits album. But there was yet one more nostalgic look back.
This was the last hurrah for the Monkees. Now reduced to a duo after the departure of Michael Nesmith, this album focused on many of their lesser known tracks (this was a double album), I enjoy this collection. In the years ahead, Bell Records, Arista Records and Rhino Records have released best of collections, but i remain faithful to the original Colgems records.
What you see here are two albums with the exact same titles. But two drastically different listening experiences. (Both very good)
The Steve Miller Band
Few have enjoyed the longevity and staying power of Steve Miller. While not a teen idol, he was a perrinial prescence on both the pop charts and in the record collections of the most discriminating rock afficianado.
Steve Miller's career and be divided into two parts by these two collections. "Anthology" covers his early period from the 1960's into the early 1970's. Anthology is in my opinion a great document of Miller's experiental phase, on occasion teaming up with of all people Paul McCartney on a couple of songs. Living In The USA, Space Cowboy and Seasons are worth the price of admission. "Greatest Hits 1974 - 1978" is his commercial best, however incorrectly branded. The earliest track on this album is "The Joker" which came out in 1973. Miller once told me that this collection sold approximately 3 million copies a year.
This album features edited versions of many of Queen's best songs. It would have made a great double album, and the vinyl versions of this album suffered in sound quality by having so many songs crammed on one side of vinyl, but dang it. You can repackage it all you want. THIS is THE Queen Greatest Hits collection, all others pale in comparison. A sly trick that Freddie and company pulled was the inclusion of "Under Pressure" the duet with David Bowie would appear on Queen's NEXT album called Hot Space. We just didn't know that at the time. Tom Petty would perform a similar stunt on two different compilations by adding a song that did not appear on any earlier albums. Special points also given to Journey and The Foo Fighters who used this chess move to their favor.
Pink Floyd made me laugh for two reasons on this one. First of which, a best of collection from a band known for 23 minute songs, to fit on one album was an ambitious undertaking. And titling it as a "Collection of great dance songs", there's even more irony there. Of all of their compilations, I enjoy this one the most. Special points awarded for the rerecorded version of "Money".