Ah, the Greatest Hits album, or compilation, best of, collection etc is a funny old thing. Our American cousins seemed in the not-too-distant past to have the concept pretty much nailed. Take a well established band or artist with a long and illustrious career and slap the most popular ditties on one handy 78 and jive yourself blind.
Then in the late 60s/early 70s with true Laurel Canyon spirit when record companies were run by people who actually liked music and would champion the artist, the Best Of was used to convince the wider public of the genius of the guys with the long hair that have been putting out great records for a couple of years now that somehow you might not really have paid much attention to but now are definitely worth another look because they did that song about the girl that you heard the other day and you'd seen their name kicking around for a while and your friend said you should check them out and you didn't really know which album was the right place to start and the one with the weird cover looked a bit challenging so you were about to leave the store when you saw the Best Of and figured that was the one for you because it should have all their best tunes on it and would save you the time of wading through the all the songs written by the goofy drummer.
And Hey Presto! Hollywood Bowling Alley to Hollywood Bowl.
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The right band at the right time can sustain, revive, rejuvenate or kickstart a career with with a smart release (see Aerosmith, Creedence, and The Eagles whose Best Of is the second biggest selling record OF ALL TIME and the goofy drummer did some sterling work).
We cynical Brits view the Greatest Hits 'package' as either a contractual obligation by a band who wants to leave a label/can't function together to release new material, or a band has made a few quid and the accountants who now own the company want to ride the gravy train until the wheels come off.
In the pop world the announcement of a Greatest Hits album is the death knell for any group and combines the contractual obligation with the gravy train-wreck (see absolutely EVERY "band" from 1982 onwards ).
So what's the deal with this offering from Buckcherry? Copying the Weezer model of bursting on the scene with a critically acclaimed debut, a disappointing follow up, a break up, a stellar comeback and then a steadily weaker output, Buckcherry give us a compilation of their best known tracks from each of their six albums to date in a handy chronological order.
While not exactly charting an arc of musical development it's more a reminder that when Buckcherry are good, they are very good. Singer Josh Todd's barked-out odes to sex, drugs and Rock'n'Roll veer dangerously close to comedy cliche but backed up by Keith Nelson's muscular mash up of hard Aerosmith and AC/DC inspired riffing the band keeps things on the right side of the line. The album is described as a "career-spanner" and yup, it does exactly what it says on the tin. No new material, demo or alternate versions, re-recordings or remixes.
'Lit Up' from 1999s self titled debut is Buckcherry's anthem, concert highlight, rock club floor filler and bona fide classic, and paired with 'For The Movies' which is the "softer" heart beneath the tattoos in a sultry verse/huge chorus kinda way, sees the LA rockers setting out their stall and leaving no doubt as to what they are all about.
For the uninitiated, if you're not enjoying yourself by the end of this song then leave now. There is nothing for you here. For those that remain we get a blast of bombast and ballad from each successive album.
Fans who were underwhelmed by 2001s 'Timebomb' may want to have a re-visit of that often over looked album as (much like Weezer's 'Pinkerton' to continue the comparison) age has favoured this album well and there are some great songs on there. Here though we only get one cut which is 'Ridin'', a great slippery riff like an eel cruising the Sunset Strip in a Pontiac.
The lion's share are taken from their 2006 resurrection record '15' (including of course 'Crazy Bitch' - Todd's contribution to the Feminist cause) with four tracks plucked from it, implying the band believe it to be their strongest work. While that may be true and it is their biggest seller to date, it seems a bit harsh on their other efforts.
We get a couple from 2008s 'Black Butterfly' (four-on-the-floor rocker 'Rescue Me' and the country tinged 'Rose') one from 'All Night Long' (2010) and a couple from this year's semi concept album 'Confessions' ('Gluttony' and the US rock hit 'Nothing Left But Tears').
For fans of a band there will always be the furious debate regarding song choices for a compilation and I think Buckcherry should have been a little more thoughtful in their selections. Also in fact in this digital iTunes age is there any point to release an album of songs that are already available to download? Does Spotify not let you dip into a band's back catalogue and stream to see what you like or don't, what you might want to buy or not?
I guess time will tell whether this collection proves to be a shot in the arm or a shot to the head for Buckcherry but with a tour of the UK and Ireland booked in for November the band are very much alive and kicking. I for one will be down at the front punching thunder and i suggest that you should be too as these songs really come alive in the flesh and Buckcherry's brand of swaggering snake oil proves itself the perfect tonic. And goes even better with gin.
01 Lit Up
02 For The Movies
05 Next 2 You
07 Crazy Bitch
08 Rescue Me
10 All Night Long
12 Nothing Left But Tears
Buckcherry are on tour in Europe in November and December and will play the following UK dates:
22.11.13 LONDON Koko
23.11.13 COVENTRY Kasbah
25.11.13 MANCHESTER The Ritz
26.11.13 GLASGOW O2 ABC
27.11.13 BELFAST Limelight 2
29.11.13 DUBLIN Academy 2
30.11.13 NOTTINGHAM Rock City
02.12.13 BRISTOL Academy
For the songs...
For the concept of a compilation album of existing tracks in 2013...