My Favourite Greatest Hits Collections

cdGreatest Hits albums are a great way to introduce yourself to a musician, especially when you're too young to appreciate the meat of an artist's career. I was just reading a list of the best "best of" albums, and it got me thinking about my favourite "Greatest Hits" collections.

Neil  Young - DecadeNeil Young - Decade

Why It Mattered
In the 1980s, I was a member of Columbia House. You got a bunch of CDs for a penny if you bought a certain amount at regular price over the next few years or something like that. From Columbia House, I ordered Neil Young's double album Decade and I was smitten. If you don't know Neil, start with this compilation and fall in love.

Alice in Chains - Greatest HitsAlice In Chains - Greatest Hits

Why It Mattered
Only ten songs deep, this is Dirt and more. If I just want a power punch of 90s nostalgia, this is my go-to album. Everyone talks about Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. Alice In Chains belongs in that group.

The Beatles - 1962-1966The Beatles - Red and Blue double albums

Why It Mattered
The red one covered 1962–1966 and the blue one covered 1967-1970 and if you missed the 60s this was an awesome way to familiarize oneself with the Beatles catalogue. Four CDs in total, all the hits are here from arguably the best band in the history of rock n' roll.

Blue Rodeo - Greatest HitsBlue Rodeo - Greatest Hits

Why It Mattered
I started out as a Blue Rodeo fan. I loved "Try" and "Diamond Mine", but then I lost track of these guys. Maybe I felt they were a little too country for me, I dunno, but this fantastic greatest hits compilation reminded me how awesome Blue Rodeo are.

Alice Cooper - Greatest HitsAlice Cooper - Greatest Hits

Why It Mattered
In the late 80s and very early 90s I would hang at Joe's where his brother Frank would show off their stereo that actually went to 11. They cranked a lot of Ozzy and Van Halen and Alice Cooper's Greatest Hits. The Ozzy was alright and the Van Halen was okay, but the Alice Cooper struck a chord. I still love this album.

Rolling Stones - Hot RocksThe Rolling Stones - Hot Rocks

Why It Mattered
For people born in the 70s or later, Hot Rocks should be a prescribed rite of passage. My father had this double album in vinyl and that's when I first discovered it. It's hit laden, as you can imagine, and even though I don't consider myself a Rolling Stones fan today, I most definitely was for a few years in the 80s thanks to Hot Rocks.

James Taylor - Greatest HitsJames Taylor - Greatest Hits

Why It Mattered
This is actually the only James Taylor album I own and I don't feel compelled to buy another. "Sweet Baby James", song #4 on this compact disc, had such an impact on me, I named my first born son after it.

Simon and Garfunkel - Greatest HitsSimon & Garfunkel - Greatest Hits

Why It Mattered
Such sweet melodies, such a wonderful blend of voices, such American classics. I had to to play a little catch-up here so I delved into their Greatest Hits while in high school. Their recordings are just so damn pretty I'd pause Appetite for Destruction just to chill to "The Sounds of Silence".

Kenny Rogers - Greatest HitsKenny Rogers - Greatest Hits

Why It Mattered
Tomorrow is Mother's Day. Why does Kenny Roger's Greatest Hits matter? It's all right here in black and white. When it comes to the music you like, where you come from will always play a role.

Bob Marley - LegendBob Marley - Legend

Why It Mattered
Speaking of rites of passage, Legend from Bob Marley is essential listening for every teenager. I've since accumulated several other Bob Marley albums, but I still find myself going back to Legend when I'm in the mood for a little reggae.

Lynyrd Skynyrd - Skynyrds InnyrdsLynyrd Skynyrd - Skynyrd's Innyrds

Why It Mattered
I must confess, for a period in the early 90s, I really got into "Free Bird". There's a ten minute outtake version that appears on Skynyrd's Innyrds that I would play over and over and over again. I'm not ashamed to admit I still love that version.

Janis Joplin - Greatest HitsJanis Joplin - Greatest Hits

Why It Mattered
I'm still searching for a female voice in rock that can do what Janis did. Some say Pearl is all you need from Janis, but Pearl doesn't have "Piece of My Heart" or "Summertime".

Billy Idol - Vital IdolBilly Idol - Vital Idol

Why It Mattered
Between Duran Duran and Guns N' Roses, there was Billy Idol. Billy Idol remixed the hits form his first two albums and released Vital Idol in 1987. Actually, I'm told it came out in 1985, but I didn't buy the cassette until 1987. I've since picked up the CD (which is now ripped to MP3) because it is, after all, vital Idol.

The Best of the Guess WhoThe Guess Who - The Best of the Guess Who

Why It Mattered
As a kid, I really only knew "American Woman" and "These Eyes" until I heard "Share the Land" on Q107. I needed to hear what else these Winnipeggers were up to as they paved the way for the many Canadian bands I already had in my Walkman. This album introduced me to "Laughing", "No Time", "No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature" and other fantastic Cummings / Bachman classics.

CCR - ChronicleCreedence Clearwater Revival - Chronicle

Why It Mattered
CCR was an absolutely brilliant rock band with that swampy Southern feel. If you're about my age, or younger, this is really all you need. It's 20 of their best singles essential listening for anyone with a pulse.

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Comments (8 - click here to join in!)

Stephanie Wilkinson

Oh boy Mike... I just did a quick scroll.. You CLEARLY totally missed the Eagles Greatest Hits. In a top 10, I'd add the Barenaked Ladies... Or is that the difference between beginning playground games 1974 and 1978?

May 10, 2008 @ 7:48 PM

Toronto Mike

I didn't miss the Eagles Greatest Hits, they didn't make the cut. My favourite Eagles memory is "Desperado" in Seinfeld.

As for BNL, I owned that damn yellow tape and pretty much stuck with them until the "One Week" explosion... so no need for a Greatest Hits.

May 10, 2008 @ 7:56 PM

Mike (Buffalo Boy)

What about the Tragically Hips?
Rush Chronicles

May 10, 2008 @ 8:28 PM

Toronto Mike

Again, starting with Up To Here, I've lived and breathed every new Hip release, so a Greatest Hits package is pretty damn redundant.

Rush should have made this list. That's a good example of a band I got to know through their Greatest Hits album. A few years ago I revealed the great Rush greatest hits scam.

May 10, 2008 @ 8:48 PM


Turn off the fucking Eagles man. Except for Joe Walsh. He's Ok

May 11, 2008 @ 4:15 PM


Neil Youngs Decade was actually a triple album. I would also add Steve Miller Bands Greatest Hits and Wings Greatest and my husband will swear( No Kidding) that everyone should have Air Supplys Greatest Hits as part of their collection.

May 11, 2008 @ 11:09 PM

Ottawa (Charlottetown) Mike

I'd second the Steve Miller Band and add a Jimi Hendrix compilation (either Smash Hits or Essential works).

I'm also not ashamed to admit I love Gord's Gold.

May 12, 2008 @ 9:29 AM

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