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?
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.