December 21, 2008
25 best-of CDs of 2008
By Darryl Sterdan – Sun Media
Keeps Gettinâ€™ Better: A Decade of Hits
Chronic oversinger Xtina condenses her three English CDs and assorted singles down to 12 essentials. YEARS: 1999-2008. HITS: Genie in a Bottle, What a Girl Wants, Candyman. EXTRAS: Two stylish and impressive new electro-pop tracks; likeminded remakes of Genie and Beautiful; a DVD with 10 videos.
The Best of the HighTone Years
The ex-Blasters guitarist and roots-rock maverick reviews his â€™90s releases on a respected indie label. YEARS: 1991-2000. HITS: None â€” but it does have a cut from his Grammy-winning 2000 CD Public Domain. EXTRAS: One previously unissued tune; acoustic and live versions of three more.
Trying Hartz: First Fruits
Quirky indie-popster Daniel Smith has put out seven CDs on a handful of labels. This two-disc set cherrypicks highlights. YEARS: 1994-2004. HITS: Well, it does have singles. EXTRAS: A handful of rarities.
My Love: Ultimate Essential Collection
All the Celine anyone could want â€” and in the two-disc Ultimate edition, much, much more. YEARS: 1990-2008. HITS: The Power of Love, My Heart Will Go On, I Drove All Night. EXTRAS: The new song There Comes a Time; a live version of My Love; a couple of tribute-album rarities.
The 21-year-old teen-popster has only made one CD since her last compilation, which makes this cheap cash-in even more egregious. YEARS: 2003-2008. HITS: So Yesterday, Come Clean, With Love. EXTRAS: Two new clubby cuts called Reach Out and Holiday; a trio of remixes.
Instead of just regurgitating hits, the pop-punks get Junior Sanchez, The Game, FoBâ€™s Patrick Stump and more to revamp them. Points for originality. YEARS: 2000-2008. HITS: Dance Floor Anthem, The Young & the Hopeless. EXTRAS: Three new tunes. But really, the whole thing is kind of a bonus.
Then and Now: The Definitive
Jazz keyboard vet Hancock capitalizes on his recent left-field Grammy success with this too-brief â€”
and hardly definitive â€” 12-song retrospective. YEARS: 1964-2008. HITS: Cantaloupe Island, Watermelon Man, Wiggle Waggle. EXTRAS: Two recent live recordings.
Since We Met: The Best Of
Apparently, the Canadian piano balladeer took a few minutes off from raising her kids and shilling hair colour to assemble this unexceptional collection. YEARS: 1996-2006. HITS: In This Life, God Made Me, Weight of the World. EXTRAS: Some soundtrack cuts.
Laika and the Cosmonauts
After two decades, the Finnish spaghetti-western surf-rock twangstrumentalists call it a day with an extensive 76-minute career anthology. YEARS: 1988-2008. HITS: Um, maybe in Scandinavia. EXTRAS: Tunes that were never issued in North America.
Closer: The Best of
Apparently, the OTHER Canadian piano balladeer also decided to take time away from child-rearing to put together this chronological retrospective. YEARS: 1989-2008. HITS: I Will Remember You, Angel, Building a Mystery. EXTRAS: Two undated new cuts that donâ€™t sound much different from the old ones.
Still havenâ€™t heard Soviet-born British jazz-pop vocalist Melua? This compendium of her three albums is a good starting point. YEARS: 2003-2008. HITS: None â€” but plenty of tunes that could have been. EXTRAS: Three impressive new numbers.
Jackpot: The Best Bette
Judging by the cover pic of this well-balanced collection, the Divine Miss M. still has the body of a 20-year-old model â€” or a photographer who knows PhotoShop. YEARS: 1972-2006. HITS: Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, The Rose, Wind Beneath My Wings. EXTRAS: Just one â€™80s demo.
The Best of the HighTone Years
Americana singer-guitarist Miller has been a sideman for Emmylou, Lucinda and more. If heâ€™s good enough for them, this retrospective is good enough for you. YEARS: 1995-2002. HITS: Sadly, playing on other folksâ€™ hits is as close as Miller has come. EXTRAS: Nothing.
Greatest Hits Vol. 1
The harmony-loving country-pop trio dish up a chronological overview of their first four albums. Guess even they didnâ€™t like their last CD. YEARS: 2000-2008. HITS: Bless the Broken Road, Fast Cars and Freedom, My Wish. EXTRAS: A second disc with three Christmas songs â€” which could easily have fit on the other CD.
Singles 06-07 | Matador Singles â€™08
If you wanna follow garage-punk maniac Reatardâ€™s twisted path, you have to spend a lot of time tracking down his singles â€” or pick up these compilations. YEARS: 2006-2008. HITS: None â€” but he did punch an unruly Toronto fan in the face last April. EXTRAS: 06-07 has a DVD of live footage. â€™08 has one bonus cut.
The Anthology: Veteranâ€™s Day
With some 20 albums to his name, cowboy troubadour Russellâ€™s career is tough to anthologize. This two-disc set comes close. YEARS: 1978-2008. HITS: If life were fair, U.S. Steel and The Pugilist at 59 would be classics. EXTRAS: A new recording and an acoustic remake.
Multi Dimensional Warrior
Want Smooth and Oye Como Va? Look elsewhere. This is one CD of spiritual (and obscure) Latin-rock vocal tracks and a second disc of jammy instrumentals. So by multi, he means two. YEARS: 1970-2004. HITS: Nada. Thanks, Carlos. EXTRAS: Nada. Thanks again â€” this time for real.
25: The Greatest Hits
This two-disc set isnâ€™t Mick Hucknall and his blue-eyed soul-pop outfitâ€™s first best-of. But it is their most extensive, with 25 tracks spanning their entire career. YEARS: 1985-2008. HITS: If You Donâ€™t Know Me By Now, Holding Back the Years. EXTRAS: A lush cover of the Moody Bluesâ€™ Go Now.
Decade in the Sun
This Welsh trio has never been able to crack North America â€” so this 20-song CD is a good intro for most people. YEARS: 1997-2008. HITS: Dakota, Just Looking and Local Boy in the Photograph were huge in the U.K. EXTRAS: The grungy rocker My Own Worst Enemy and the dreamy pop single Youâ€™re My Star.
With a Faces reunion looming, raspy rooster Rod stops crooning standards and sets out to re-establish his rock cred with a double-disc set of solo hits. YEARS: 1971-1998. HITS: Maggie May, Hot Legs, Da Ya Think Iâ€™m Sexy? EXTRAS: The 1998 ballad Two Shades of Blue; a DVD of 14 videos.
Read All About It: The Hits / Anthology
One disc of singles + one CD of album tracks = the biggest and best anthology yet from these â€™70s rockers fronted by Kenny Shields. Get it at their website: www.kennyshields.com. YEARS: 1978-1984. HITS: Under My Thumb, Action, Here Comes the Night. EXTRAS: Track-by-track liner notes.
Death Was Too Kind
If you remember these Vancouver punk pioneers, youâ€™re almost as old as we are. And if you own their first EP and singles, well, you donâ€™t need this 25-minute compilation. YEARS: 1978-1981. HITS: For some reason, anthems like F— You and Slave to My D— never caught on. EXTRAS: Two demos from 1981.
The Best Yet
For a bunch of Christians, these alt-rockers crank it up pretty convincingly on this 18-cut retrospective that draws from their six albums. YEARS: 1997-2006. HITS: Meant to Live, Dare You to Move, Stars. EXTRAS: Nothing.
Tina rules â€” but her umpteenth anthology is a typically spotty and superficial affair, flitting between Ike-era oldies, solo hits, live filler and soundtrack cuts. YEARS: 1966-2008. HITS: Nutbush City Limits, Whatâ€™s Love Got to Do With It, Private Dancer. EXTRAS: Two recent, unremarkable tunes recorded with Brit-pop svengali Guy Chambers.
Wu: The Story Of
This companion CD to a new Wu doc isnâ€™t the most complete anthology â€” but it does have a decent mix of group tracks and solo jams. Not the whole story, but not bad. YEARS: 1993-2000. HITS: Method Man, Protect Ya Neck, Shimmy Shimmy Ya. EXTRAS: Nothing.