Staind

The Singles 1996-2006

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Thanks to their power ballad "It's Been Awhile," it'd be easy for some listeners to forget that Staind got their big break thanks to none other than Fred Durst, the king of lunkheaded mook rock at the turn of the millennium. Not that "It's Been Awhile" was fun -- like all post-grunge hard rock of the late '90s/early 2000s, it was humorless and earnest, intent on catharsis -- but it had a strong hook that tempered the gloom and helped them cross over, even if their lead singer/songwriter, Aaron Lewis, remained fueled by angst even after selling millions. Released in 2006 -- five years after "It's Been Awhile" and a year after their fifth album, Chapter V, topped the Billboard charts without leaving much of a lasting impression -- the 15-track Greatest Hits downplays their early, churning Alice in Chains fixation and emphasizes songs in the vein of "It's Been Awhile." Not that the metal is completely absent -- their first single, the grinding "Mudshovel" is here, for instance -- but brooding ballads are pushed front and center; there are no less than four acoustic tracks tacked on the end of the record (including a cover of Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb," which does produce the mild revelation that Roger Waters' narcissistic rock opera did indeed influence Lewis' lyrical outlook). In this context, such singles as "Price to Play" -- which aren't quite rock, yet not quite ballads -- sound akin to power ballads, which helps make this a good overview and introduction for those who were won over to the band via their big hit, yet for those who remember that Staind was once a protégé of Durst & Co., they'd be better off sticking with their old copy of Dysfunction.

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