The parade of "Best of" releases aimed at holiday shoppers is in full swing.
Counting Crows offers Films About Ghosts the Best of … on Geffen. The disc includes 16 tracks chronicling the California band's first decade of success, and covering four albums. Included are "Round Here," "A Long December," "Hangingaround, Mr. Jones," "American Girls" and the band's most recent hit, a cover of Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi." There's also a new easy strumming cover of The Grateful Dead's "Friend of the Devil," a rare demo from 1991 that previously appeared on DGC Rarities Vol.1, "Einstein on the Beach (For an Eggman)" and an upbeat, jangly new original recording, "She Don't Want Nobody Near."
The latest entries from the Epic/Legacy reissue label come from two rock guitar maestros, Steve Vai and Joe Satriani. The Infinite Steve Vai: An Anthology offers 32 tracks from Vai collected on two CDs, and The Electric Jo Satriani: An Anthology offers 30 tracks on two discs, including a couple of rare ones.
Warner Brothers offers a Greatest Hits set from Red Hot Chili Peppers. The CD has 16 tracks in all, two of them new, and includes their hits "Under the Bridge," "Give It Away," "Californication," "Otherside," "Higher Ground," and more.
The Dixie Chicks offer a new two-CD concert recording. Top of the World Tour Live, on Columbia, includes 22 tracks, from "Landslide" and "Wide Open Spaces" to "Goodbye Earl" and"Cowboy Take Me Away."
The Doors completists, who haven't already bought the band's full catalog on CD, will want to put the new box set The Doors: The Complete Studio Recordings on their Christmas lists. The seven-CD box includes remastered copies of the band's six original studio albums from 1967-1971, as well as a seventh disc, Essential Rarities, that was issued in 1997. The rarities disc includes 11 live concert and TV performances, three demo recordings and a bonus track, the unreleased song "Woman Is a Devil," recorded in 1969.
Everything To Everyone
Only Canada's Barenaked Ladies could keep a straight face while singing about being deluged with postcards covered in pictures of chimpanzees (as they do on the first single from Everything to Everyone). BNL has made a career out of mixing outlandish goofball wordplay with serious, rich-harmonied pop songs, and their latest release Everything to Everyone keeps up the tradition, though its focus is more on the serious than the humorous side.
Opening with “Celebrity,” a bittersweet look at the emptiness of
being famous, the disc moves on to its catchiest track in “Maybe Katie”
about an indecisive suitor and then into “Another Postcard,” which
complains of a mailbox filled with postcards covered in “some chimps in
swimsuits, some chimps are swinging from a vine/some chimps in jackboots/some
chimps that wish they could be mine.”
That’s followed by a couple serious ballads – “Next Time,” a quiet harmony-rich track and “For You,” a backporch guitar picker. Things pick up again with the mildly silly “Shopping,” which includes elevator music “la-la-la-la-la” interludes tucked into a galloping song with guest percussion by Blue Man Group where the band sings “everything will always be all right/when we go shopping…so shut up/and never stop/let’s shop/until we drop.”
The band crafts a hauntingly sad character portrait in the quietly strummed “War on Drugs” and offer a Beatlesque march in “Unfinished,” which strings together a bunch of odd statements like:
“I left a tip, but it was never a donation
I took a trip, but it was never a vacation
…I took her hand, but it was not matrimony
I told my side, but it was never testimony.”
The album closes with “Have You Seen My Love?” a nicely spun tin pan alley ballad. Everything To Everyone breaks no new ground for BNL, but it offers another solid batch of songs from this talented, ever-engaging act.