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Re-issue, repackage, extra track and a tacky badge – the 10 best compilations

Discovering every nook and cranny of a band is a fulfilling task. It’s also a long one and, really, who has the time? Luckily for you, Howlin’ Whippet is here to point us towards the best compilation albums one can get hold of. Time saved!

Compilation albums are a bit of a strange beast. Often thought of as the poor cousin by ‘proper fans’, they’re nonetheless often a quick fix for those of us who try to leave the fanboy stuff back with the acne lotion.

Being the music snob/nazi that I proudly am, I can see the point of the purity of the actual album. For yes, that’s the way our heroes wanted it to be listened to. It’s a piece of art, a whole, an organic thing.

Enough of the theorising, what I’m really trying to get at is this:

Mrs Whippet and I like to, of a Friday evening, get completely shit-faced and dance around Anarchy Towers. Or my living room, as it’s also known. Now, musical national socialism often gets left at the border somewhere between drink three and twenty-three. This is when the ‘Best Ofs’ come out. And it made me wonder.

What is, in fact, the BEST ‘Best Of’.

I guess, bands/artists that are (or were in most cases) regarded as ‘singles bands’ were always gonna get the vote. The single means a whole lot of fuck all these days but maybe that’s the problem with modern music. Short, sharp manifestos of intent. That’s what we need folks!

Some notes before we begin: I’ve deliberately left out The Stones because there’s about 3 compilations for every decade they’ve existed. I’ve left out The Beatles because I hate them.

Anyway, for what it’s worth, here’s the Whippet Guide To Best Of Albums. Feel free to debate/slaughter/agree/point out omissions etc.

10. The DoorsThe Best Of (1985)

Many people, myself included, mock the self-styled Lizard King and his band of musos. (As an adjunct, the worst book I’ve ever read is the utterly laughable Ray Manzerek autobiography).

However, who can argue with ‘Roadhouse Blues’, ‘LA Woman’, ‘People Are Strange’ or ‘Strange Days’? Great songs, great playing and great lyrical bits to shout out loud when your pissed.

9. The Specials The Best Of (1996)

This has fallen to an unspectacular number 9 because it bizarrely omits ‘Ghost Town’. The rest are all there, however, including the ones that Amy Winehouse ruined.

8. The CureStaring At the Sea (1986)

Yes, mad Bob, his crazy hair and his lipstick. Oh, and ‘Killing An Arab’, ‘The Lovecat’s,’ In Between Day’s. Peerless, those are.

7. 999  – The Singles (1980)

Bit of a wild card here. Punk outsiders but with a stunning battery of singles between 1977 and 1980.

‘Emergency, ‘Me And My Desire’, ‘Titanic Reaction’ and the mighty ‘Nasty Nasty’ which has the second best intro in punk.

(‘Anarchy In the UK’ has the best one, just in case you’re wondering.)

6. Soft CellThe Very Best Of (2002)

I always loved the camp nastiness of Soft Cell. True outsiders who brought their pervy songs to TOTP.  And ‘Tainted Love’, ‘Bedsitte’r, ‘Sex Dwarf’?


5. Blondie – The Best Of (1980)

‘Hanging On The Telephone’, ‘Touched By Your Presence’, ‘Sunday Girl’.

Sheer, unadulterated pop smarts. What music SHOULD sound like.

4. The Jam – Snap! (1983)

Now only available as a box set, this is taking the ‘singles band’ concept and kicking the shit out of it.

In the singles chart constantly for about 5 years, The Jam reinvented the 7-inch. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you; ‘Eton Rifles’, ‘A-Bomb In Wardour Street’, ‘Going Underground’ and the mighty ‘When You’re Young’. And that’s only SOME of the great songs found here!

3. MadonnaThe Immaculate Collection (1990)

Nowadays she may be a Home Counties wannabe with a risible career in movies, but there was a run of singles from ‘Into The Groove’ through to ‘La Isla Bonita’ that kicks the arse out of any current pop poppet’s pretensions to stardom.

It’s also got the tremendous ‘Like a Prayer’ which is one of the greatest pop songs ever. No contest.

2. BuzzcocksSingles Going Steady (1990)

Again, every track a winner. Shelley’s winsome voice and Diggle’s panzer division guitar set against the sweetest songs.

‘Ever Fallen In Love’ also gets the vote for most covered song on movie soundtracks ever.

1.The SmithsLouder than Bombs (1987)

This really needs no build-up. The Smiths redefined guitar music. I guess, on reflection, there’s not actually a classic Smiths album. They’re all good, but Louder Than Bombs tops them all.

Every home should own this.

‘Hand In Glove’, ‘Panic’, ‘Sweet And Tender Hooligan’, ‘Ask’.

A worthy number one, methinks. No further words required.


4 Responses

  1. I wouldn’t argue with number 1, and kudos on picking Madonna – that is a fucking great album.

    However, the Doors are shite and so are the Specials.

    • ELM is wrong ref. The Specials and The Doors, but he knew that when he posted it and undermines his entire cred. by bigging up the talentless shyster that is Madonna….

      Greats shout about 999: ‘Homicide’ is a great song and I had a pic sleeve ‘Nasty Nasty’ before I had to leave many posessions in 82 when I went to Canada *stifles sob* The Buzzcocks ‘best of’ really is!

  2. Are you kidding me? Madonna is a talented shyster? The greatest female pop artist of all time, and in the running with Michael Jackson for the title of greatest ever.

    The Doors; boring cock rock made even sillier by stupid lyrics. The Specials – well, I’d assume you had to be there. Literally no impression bar those who were fans at the time.

  3. Get intae him! Fiiiiiight!

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