Friday Firesmith – The Best Of …

Firesmith logo

I remember when I traded some bottom of the barrel dreck I had let my older sister talk me into buying for an eight track tape from Jethro Tull called “The Best of Jethro Tull MU” which later became the “The Best Of Jethro Tull Vol. 1” This came out in 1975 or 1976 and it wasn’t a bad start for a budding Tull fan. Forgive me for saying so, but there wasn’t a whole lot of Tull to get excited about after that. The next two or three albums were okay, and then after that, after “The Best of Volume 2” came out, there was a flurry of “Boxed sets” and “Remastered Hits” and “The Definitive Collection Of Jethro Tull For The Person Who Will Buy Anything With The Right
Name On It”.

Really, now. How many times can the band’s close- to–  breaking- into- the- mainstream–  hit, “Aqualung” be put on a CD and someone buy it? I’m willing to be there could be an entire CD with nothing on it but the same old Aqualung song, but taken from the different collections. It’s the same old song, but toss it in with the other five or six well known tracks and three or four slightly less known tracks, and call it a collection.

“Best of” is usually a death knell for a band or an artist. This isn’t always true, but look at where Sheryl Crow has gone since her first “Best Of” collection. The next step in the career of a band or artist is the coffin called “The Boxed Set” which is usually two or three of the great albums, one or two minor works, and then the Best Of Series and an unplugged version of their greatest hit(s). This is normally packaged in some cardboard box that looks like an amp or a speaker, or maybe a musical instrument, but inside is everything you already own, or did before you traded up for something new. Oh, and if you’re a fan of the band Motorhead, their boxed set will cost you six hundred bucks.

Alanis Morissette re-released her “Jagged Little Pill” CD as an acoustic attempt and it was the equivalent of someone going after the pennies tossed into a fountain. There wasn’t anything new there and most of the songs, which were ten years old by that time, sounded less alive when sang by a woman desperately trying not to slip into total obscurity. She is one of my favorite singers, by the way, but that doesn’t mean she’ll make a living redoing what she has already done before.

Don McLean, was still touring the last time I checked, as are many of the once famous one hits wonders, and aging rockers. They started out small, grew large, and now, like McLean, they’re loading a guitar in the back of a rented car and going from small college to small college for a couple of hundred bucks a night, to relive the legend.

Rock and roll is a fickle thing. Fame is even worse. But fans will still pay to see the past, and to listen to it, so there will always be some balding and gimpy rocker taking the stage for a pittance, and for those who really have to hear “Aqualung” one more time… the band is one tour again.

So, fess up…who is your favorite dead in the water band you’d still pay to go listen to, even if they are lip synching and wearing sequined Depends?

Take Care,



Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit

Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

25 thoughts on “Friday Firesmith – The Best Of …”

  1. We went to se Reo Speed Wagon and Styx a few years ago, and more recently ZZ Top and Skynard. Enjoyed both concerts very much.

    • I have never been to a rock concert, but if I do get the chance I would love to see ZZ Top.

      To show how out of touch I am…They are still touring aren’t they?

      • Not quite sure Gary, pretty sure they’re still alive though. Beach Boys are suppose to be having a 50th yr. concert in Vegas when we’re there and only at the small cost of $679 for the good tickets. Once in a lifetime deal but I might have to pass.

      • Gary they were here a while back ,Ill post it on here the next time they are here dont worry they are still rocking

  2. I saw the Beach Boys about 7-8 years ago. I think the only drug being passed around was viagra.

    She who must be obeyed wants to hear Yes again. I said Maybe.

  3. I’m not sure what your point is Mike. “Collections” / “Best of…” are from the “owners” of the rights to do so, rarely do the band/solo acts have a say in it.

    I have a few “boxed sets”, etc. on CD, because my album, 8-track, cassette collections are no longer supported by my equipment. I also don’t “download for free”. Yes, I know how, I just don’t do it.

    The reason that some “oldies” still sell is because they have “stood the test of time” (i.e. talent). I’m not sure about how well Rap, Grunge, Disco, Punk, Hip hop, Bimbo Pop, Big Hair, Metal, etc. will do when releasing “collections” 10-20-30 years from now.

    Yes, the cream will rise tull a rolling stone beatles it to who has an experience. Are you?

    • I would always prefer the “Best of” albums back when I was buying them. Because when I’d buy an album I’d get two or maybe three songs I knew and seven or eight I’d never heard or cared for. Where with the Best of albums I knew almost all of the songs. Definitely my preference. There were very few artists that I wanted to follow so closely that I HAD to know every one of their songs.

  4. Last year my wife sprang for a pair of tickets to a small outdoor facility here in Columbus that featured 3 artists from the 1970’s . The best $50 we ever spent! Ted Nugent was 1st, and had his original lead singer touring again, then Alice Cooper, and finally, Styx, without Dennis DeYoung! Ted was as energetic as always, Alice was Alice, nothing new, but so much fun, and Tommy and the boys played their tails off! We are hoping for another concert series for 2012! I also took my 21-year old daughter to see Johnny Winter in the old Agora venue on campus across from OSU to show her a real guitarist! Mr. Winter was dynamite , but now sits in a chair on stage while he plays! I saw Johnny Winter back in the early days when he was just a ball of energy! Who else can work a Firebird the way he does!

  5. I’m going to see Van Halen in a couple of months. I was not quite old enough to see them with David Lee Roth before he left the band, so I’m looking forward to it. I saw Motorhead last year with Clutch opening. All of you older rock or “hard rock” fans should check out Clutch (just not thier first couple of albums).
    I read once that one reason bands do get behind the greatest hits thing is that some less popular bands albums may be completely out of print and the only way to have a presence in the record store is to re-release something.

      • I remember going to the record store and looking through the record rack for 45’s. Most were just the record in a white paper sleeve with a big hole cut in the sleeve so you could see the record label. The fancier ones had a paper sleeve with the song name and artists photo or record logo on it.


  6. Rerecording a song isn’t necessarily bad. Clapton’s Layla or Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s Lucky Man, for example.
    Pre-CDs, the mediums would wear out. Rather than replacing all those albums/8-tracks/cassettes, a few best-of CDs might work for your listening habits these days.
    Occasionally I poke through my albums (over 1000) finding things I’ve forgotten, and once in awhile something I swear I’ve never seen before. Must be Alzheimer’s.

  7. Must be Alzheimer’s.

    On occasion I will hear an old song and there’ll be a part I just noticed and I wonder what the hell is happening to my mind. But then again, you do not always notice what you have always seen.

  8. Bon Jovi would be my “I- can’t- believe- I’m- admitting- it- out- loud,- but- yes,- I -would- pay- to- hear- them- in- concert.” I don’t think they’d be lip synching, either. 🙂

Comments are closed.