Greatest Hits


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Greatest Hits Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Apparently the key to Morrissey's complaint about endless repackages and reissues in "Paint a Vulgar Picture" is that they're done without the artist's consent. As long as the star is in on the game, those releases can keep on coming, as the 2008 release of the rather pointless but harmless Greatest Hits suggests. Purportedly, Greatest Hits has been assembled according to the British charts, concentrating on singles that reached the Top Ten, but the logic behind that approach is flimsy: chart placement is a mere guideline to both merit and popularity, especially for cult artists like Morrissey whose earliest records didn't sell as well initially as his latter-day albums, so Top Ten hits aren't quite an accurate indicator of how long a record stuck around, either in the charts or in the memory. And so it is with Greatest Hits, with the great majority of the 13 songs here -- there are two new tracks, one the brand-new OK "That's How People Grow Up" and the other a live cover of Patti Smith's "Redondo Beach" -- dating from the 21st century. Nine, to be exact. That's a lot, especially when you take into account that he's released just two albums in the course of the decade -- solid records both, but picking out highlights from them hardly constitutes a satisfying greatest-hits collection. Instead, it plays a bit like expanded label sampler, really, and on that level, it's all right -- it has solid singles like "First of the Gang to Die," "Irish Blood, English Heart," and "I Have Forgiven Jesus" buttressed by the classics "Everyday Is Like Sunday," "Suedehead," "Last of the Famous International Playboys," and "The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get," shortchanging such superb albums as Your Arsenal and Vauxhall and I, not to mention all those various singles that never popped up on an official album. So, if that kind of hodgepodge is what you're looking for, well, you've now got it. Enjoy, then go out and get The Best of Morrissey, which comes closer to fulfilling its title promise than this.

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