Given that it contains a mere 12 tracks, this is hardly an end-all and be-all overview of the career of America's greatest musical anarchist, Spike Jones, but if you're looking for a good beginners' sampler or want to get a friend or loved one hooked on Jones' cornball genius, you could hardly do better than this handy single-disc collection. The Best of Spike Jones, Vol. 1 has most of the best-known hits from Jones and his band (including "Cocktails for Two," "The William Tell Overture," "Hawaiian War Chant (Ta-Hu-Wa-Hu-Wai)," and "Der Fuehrer's Face"), and the performances here capture the City Slickers at their best. The stop-on-a-dime precision of their barrage of organized noise is truly remarkable (even more so given that these sides mostly date from the era before editing and overdubbing were commonplace in the recording studio), and while these tunes are consistently hilarious, they also work remarkably well as music. (Though this sure ain't easy listening -- this was probably the loudest and most disorienting popular music of the pre-rock era, which I regard as a compliment.) While RCA's upgraded 1999 Greatest Hits CD offers most of the same tunes in higher fidelity and Rhino's Musical Depreciation Review: The Spike Jones Anthology is a close-to-definitive career overview, for many years, The Best of Spike Jones, Vol. 1 was the best Jones compilation extant, and anyone wanting a portable set of Spike Jones classics will find that it still fills the bill nicely. Now back to Doodles Weaver in the press box...
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming