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“Dolby’s Top 10 Greatest-Hits Collections of All Time”

10 David Bowie – Best of Bowie

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It’s not really an overstatement to say that David Bowie’s career consisted of constant about faces, sometimes even within albums, as on Let’s Dance with the angular bizarro-disco followed by the straight ahead rocker “Modern Love,” so a greatest hits collection is a trusty hip holster for making sense of the method behind the madness. “Fame” is one of those songs I used to hate with a sordid passion, but somehow just came around to. It’s like a dog that keeps licking you, that you finally learn to like.
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9 Prince – Ultimate Prince
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You know Prince, he’s that dude who does like a million songs you know, though you don’t know the artist of — that’s how “Diamonds and Pearls” was for me. I pictured it being some fat dude too, because it was so full of soul (I also pictured Del the Funkee Homosapien being fat, and Blackalicious being skinny, you might say I’m not the expert on weight estimation). Fishbone even copied the “1999” riff verbatim for “Bonin’ in the Boneyard,” an overall extremely regrettable song on the otherwise tall-stature Essential Fishbone. Prince also wrote “Nothing Compares 2 U,” which ended up being the big Sinead O’ Connor hit, and he apparently even wrote it ABOUT Sinead O’ Connor.
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8 Madonna – Celebration
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Eh, Madonna greatest hits albums, you can’t really go wrong with ‘em, I just picked the first one I saw, though I’m pretty sure this is the one I have on my computer. I just checked to make sure it had “Don’t Tell Me” and “Express Yourself.” Affirmative. And then “Ray of Light” pops in too, which I always forget about, with it’s unforgettable two-note riff. One of the best damned club tracks.
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7 The Verve – This is Music: The Singles 92-98
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Along with The Wallflowers, The Verve encapsulated the laconic, coffee-house-cool spirit of the late ’90’s with tip-top charisma. Honky tonk was the objective, the music cloaked though in an unhurried, Counting Crows-harkening alternative rock backdrop. The Verve knew how to use guitar distortion as an instrument of itself, which makes on this collection a nice conduit between essential singles like “Lucky Man” and “The Drugs Don’t Work.”
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6 Duke Ellington – The Essential Duke Ellington
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The definitive jazz release, this double disc collection entails a glorious mixture of vocals and instrumentals, as well as conventional arrangements and arcane percussion ditties. It’s the music lover’s jazz collection, showcasing the explorative and effusive artisanship at work in the director himself.
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5 Soundgarden – A-Sides
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No band inspired more fear in me when I was 15 than Soundgarden, with lines like “You gotta kill your mother / Gotta kill your mother / Kill your mother,” and it didn’t help that Chris Cornell’s yowl was practically peeling the paint off the walls. Exclusive on this collection is final track “Bleed Together,” a more than apt bookend to the boisterousness that was Soundgarden.
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4 Toad the Wet Sprocket – P.S.
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In the case of almost all the bands on this list, the inclusion is based on a certain failure to make a classic album, and undoubtedly that’s the case with the Toad, but when you listen to this sucker front to back, you are utterly floored by the consummate rockabilly genuineness. Glen Phillips straddles measure breaks inimitably with bleeding, melodic timbres, and the songs are effortless, melodic and unforgettable, from opener “P.S.” to track three, blistering single “All I Want,” on through the Pearl Jam inspired “Fall Down.” Just a nice little glimpse of what they’re doing over on the west coast, besides surfing.
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3 The Allman Brothers Band – A Decade of Hits 1969-1979
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Though I have to admit, it is disappointing that “Midnight Rider” was used on that GEICO car commercial. They better have saved some serious dough on car insurance from that one.
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2 Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth – Good Life: The Best of Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth
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Boo-ya. Grandma. Boo-ya. I LOVE hearing songs from this on commercials, like the knee-jerk revitalizing “The Creator,” because these guys never, NEVER got the props they deserved: “We made the album of the year / Remember The Source kids? / We shoulda been bigger / But it’s all politics.” “Anger in the Nation” is one of the best songs OF our nation, beginning with a sound byte, spoken word of an ambling old man, on the state of things, to only hit a jarring roller coaster ride of undeniable hip-hop. Sit back and fasten your seatbelts.
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1 Chuck Berry – The Great Twenty-Eight
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Obviously, Chuck Berry needs no introduction. The number one influence on the guitar playing of Keith Richards is also the number one topic of Bob Dylan interviews, and also one of the most covered artist by the Grateful Dead (“Johnny B. Goode,” “Around and Around”). From Chuck Berry: The Autobiography: “The rest of us had started sneaking in records of blues singers like St. Louis Jimmy doing his ‘Going Down Slow,’ ‘Worried Life Blues’ by Big Maceo, ‘In the Dark’ by Lil Green, ‘C.C. Rider’ by Bea Boo, ‘Please Mr. Johnson’ by Buddy and Ella Johnson, ‘A Tisket a Tasket’ by Ella Fitzgerald, and you name it. But (sister) Lucy stuck with stuff like ‘Ave Maria’ and ‘God Bless America.’” Another telling line of the social climate of Chuck Berry’s St. Louis is: “I was even making up words like ‘botheration’ to emphasize the nuisances that bothered people.” You want a cold one after reading a lot of this stuff, it really makes you realize what he waded through to deliver us these classic statements.

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