BootLeg Betty

Jam’s 25 “Best Of” CD’s Of 2008

December 21, 2008
25 best-of CDs of 2008
By Darryl Sterdan – Sun Media

Image: CartoonCity2

Christina Aguilera

Keeps Gettin’ 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.

4/5 stars

Dave Alvin

The Best of the HighTone Years

The ex-Blasters guitarist and roots-rock maverick reviews his ’90s releases on a respected indie label. YEARS: 1991-2000. HITS: None — 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.

4/5 stars

Danielson

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.

3.5/5 stars

Celine Dion

My Love: Ultimate Essential Collection

All the Celine anyone could want — 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.

3.5 stars

Hilary Duff

Best Of

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.

2/5 stars

Good Charlotte

Greatest Remixes

Instead of just regurgitating hits, the pop-punks get Junior Sanchez, The Game, FoB’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.

4/5 stars

Herbie Hancock

Then and Now: The Definitive

Jazz keyboard vet Hancock capitalizes on his recent left-field Grammy success with this too-brief —

and hardly definitive — 12-song retrospective. YEARS: 1964-2008. HITS: Cantaloupe Island, Watermelon Man, Wiggle Waggle. EXTRAS: Two recent live recordings.

3.5/5 stars

Chantal Kreviazuk

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.

3/5 stars

Laika and the Cosmonauts

Cosmopolis

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.

4/5 stars

Sarah McLachlan

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 don’t sound much different from the old ones.

3.5/5 stars

Katie Melua

The Collection

Still haven’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 — but plenty of tunes that could have been. EXTRAS: Three impressive new numbers.

3.5/5 stars

Bette Midler

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 — or a photographer who knows PhotoShop. YEARS: 1972-2006. HITS: Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, The Rose, Wind Beneath My Wings. EXTRAS: Just one ’80s demo.

4/5 stars

Buddy Miller

The Best of the HighTone Years

Americana singer-guitarist Miller has been a sideman for Emmylou, Lucinda and more. If he’s good enough for them, this retrospective is good enough for you. YEARS: 1995-2002. HITS: Sadly, playing on other folks’ hits is as close as Miller has come. EXTRAS: Nothing.

3.5/5 stars

Rascal Flatts

Greatest Hits Vol. 1

The harmony-loving country-pop trio dish up a chronological overview of their first four albums. Guess even they didn’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 — which could easily have fit on the other CD.

3/5 stars

Jay Reatard

Singles 06-07 | Matador Singles ’08

If you wanna follow garage-punk maniac Reatard’s twisted path, you have to spend a lot of time tracking down his singles — or pick up these compilations. YEARS: 2006-2008. HITS: None — but he did punch an unruly Toronto fan in the face last April. EXTRAS: 06-07 has a DVD of live footage. ’08 has one bonus cut.

4/5 stars

Tom Russell

The Anthology: Veteran’s Day

With some 20 albums to his name, cowboy troubadour Russell’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.

4/5 stars

Santana

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 — this time for real.

2/5 stars

Simply Red

25: The Greatest Hits

This two-disc set isn’t Mick Hucknall and his blue-eyed soul-pop outfit’s first best-of. But it is their most extensive, with 25 tracks spanning their entire career. YEARS: 1985-2008. HITS: If You Don’t Know Me By Now, Holding Back the Years. EXTRAS: A lush cover of the Moody Blues’ Go Now.

4/5 stars

Stereophonics

Decade in the Sun

This Welsh trio has never been able to crack North America — 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 You’re My Star.

3.5/5 stars

Rod Stewart

The Definitive

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 I’m Sexy? EXTRAS: The 1998 ballad Two Shades of Blue; a DVD of 14 videos.

4/5 stars

Streetheart …

Read All About It: The Hits / Anthology

One disc of singles + one CD of album tracks = the biggest and best anthology yet from these ’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.

4/5 stars

Subhumans

Death Was Too Kind

If you remember these Vancouver punk pioneers, you’re almost as old as we are. And if you own their first EP and singles, well, you don’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.

3.5/5 stars

Switchfoot

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.

3/5 stars

Tina Turner

Tina!

Tina rules — 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, What’s Love Got to Do With It, Private Dancer. EXTRAS: Two recent, unremarkable tunes recorded with Brit-pop svengali Guy Chambers.

3.5/5 stars

Wu-Tang Clan

Wu: The Story Of

This companion CD to a new Wu doc isn’t the most complete anthology — 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.

3/5 stars

darryl.sterdan@sunmedia.ca

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