Juliana Hatfield

Gold Stars 1992-2002: The Juliana Hatfield Collection

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The problem with the compilation Gold Stars 1992-2002 is that it doesn't provide a full overview of the era advertised in the title. Yes, there are some selections from Hey Babe and her two Atlantic albums here, but the majority of this album is drawn from the time after she had her run as a Next Big Thing and media darling -- which means there is a lot from Bed and the simultaneously released Total System Failure and Beautiful Creature, plus a staggering seven previously unreleased songs. All this means is that while Gold Stars is indeed a "Juliana Hatfield Collection," it's hardly a best-of. There are too many omissions to mention -- nothing from her early EPs, none of the good B-sides, no "Nirvana," no "Forever Baby," no "I See You," none of the material that made Hey Babe such a charming debut, few of the songs that made her Atlantic album alt-rock hits. What's left is a bunch of songs from the late '90s -- some of it appealing and well-crafted, yet it's hard not to be disappointed that the collection is so heavily skewed toward an era where she was making good music for a cult instead of the time when she was actually in the spotlight. Gold Stars does have some of her best stuff, and it has her biggest hits, plus the new songs are by and large sturdy, yet as a whole it doesn't capture the essence of Juliana Hatfield and why so many indie kids swooned for her at the time. And it really should have.

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