Top Five “Greatest Hit” Anomalies

In my youth, when I owned only twenty or thirty albums, I’d guess that about half of them were greatest-hit collections. I was focused on value for money, but it was also an efficient crash course on recent musical history. Many of these records, however, had a song that just didn’t seem to fit. (This was before baiting a hits collection with the latest single became standard operating procedure.)

So, my top-five selections on greatest-hits records that seemed weirdly out of place to me when I was twelve or so:

1. The Beatles, “Old Brown Shoe” (on 1967-1970 aka The Blue Album)
2. The Rolling Stones, “Midnight Rambler (Live)” (on Hot Rocks 1964-1971)
3. Wings, “Mull of Kyntire” (on Wings Greatest)
4. Squeeze, “Annie Get Your Gun” (on Singles — 45 and Under)
5. David Bowie, “John, I’m Only Dancing” (on ChangesOneBowie)

(I didn’t have any knowledge of chart history; I just knew which songs I heard on the radio.)

posted 30 November 2009 in Tasty Bits and tagged . 4 comments

4 Comments on Top Five “Greatest Hit” Anomalies

  1. Chris M. Says:

    Great theme, and all good picks (even if “Mull of Kintyre” was actually Macca’s biggest-selling single, albeit a meaningless one to us Yanks).

    A few I’d throw in, sticking to your time period and the big-selling, canonical and/or early GH albums:

    “For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her” on Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits – lovely but random, especially when you consider they left off such hits as “At the Zoo” or “Hazy Shade of Winter.”

    “Border Song” on Elton John’s Greatest Hits – now considered one of his standards, but it’s not better than the mysteriously ignored “Tiny Dancer” or “The Bitch Is Back.”

    “Woman is the Nigger of the World” on Shaved Fish – just because it meant a lot to John and Yoko and is admirably forthright doesn’t make it worthy of Lennon’s early canon; he left off “Jealous Guy” for this?!

    “The Eagle and the Hawk” on John Denver’s Greatest Hits – an album I grew up with, but even at age eight I found this bit of doggerel totally incongruous amid JD’s string of undeniable hits.

    “Can’t Keep It In” on Cat Stevens Greatest Hits – another childhood perpetual repeater that’s basically a mediocre rewrite of themes he explored more economically in the Harold and Maude song “Don’t Be Shy.”

  2. Tom Nawrocki Says:

    I’m glad they put “Old Brown Shoe” on the Blue Album, because it’s terrific and I never would have heard it otherwise. “Midnight Rambler,” on the other hand, is the worst song on “Let It Bleed,” and even more useless in its live version.

    “Desperado” was included on “The Eagles’ Greatest Hits,” even though it was never released as a single – and it might well be the best song on there. I’ll also nominate all of “Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits Vol. 2.”

  3. Tom Nawrocki Says:

    Going the other way, I could never figure out why “Twist and Shout” wasn’t on the Red Album. Is it because it wasn’t Beatle-written?

  4. Gavin Says:

    That’s very odd–I suspect your theory is correct.

Leave a Reply

Keep up to date with new comments on this post via RSS.