Counting Crows

Films About Ghosts: The Best Of...

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Counting Crows always seemed a little older than their years, so it somehow seemed appropriate when they arrived at certain milestones a little earlier than their peers. They released their first live album, an exhaustive double-disc set, just two albums into their career, then, two albums later, they issued Films About Ghosts: The Best of..., their first compilation. Part of the reason they're issuing a compilation after just four studio albums may be that they've arrived at the end of the recording contract with Geffen and this ties up loose ends, but it's also been ten years since the band broke through with their debut August and Everything After and their first hit, "Mr. Jones," so it's a good time to take stock and recap their first decade. Films About Ghosts does offer an accurate summary of those ten years, even if it's not a complete one. While this generous 16-track compilation includes all of the major hits -- "Round Here," "A Long December," "Hanginaround," "Mr. Jones," and even the non-LP modern rock chart-topper "Einstein on the Beach (For an Eggman)" -- it does overlook three charting singles from their first two albums("A Murder of One," "Daylight Fading," "Have You Seen Me Lately"), substituting album tracks, and two new recordings produced by Brendan O'Brien (the good new single "She Don't Want Nobody Near," an enjoyable but superfluous cover of the Grateful Dead's "Friend of the Devil") instead. Add to this a deliberately non-chronological sequencing that prevents the album from giving proper momentum, and Films About Ghosts isn't as ideal a compilation as it could have been, but these are rather minor issues, since it does contain the great majority of the Counting Crows' hits and concert staples and, in doing so, it provides a listen that's as enjoyable, frustrating, and rewarding as the band's proper albums. And that means it's a fine summary of the group's stint at Geffen, an era that might have resulted in just four albums in ten years, but did provide a bunch of good music, much of which can be heard here.

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