BEST OF...
Collections stack up on record store shelves


Ben Folds Five, the Carolina piano-based trio who scored a hit earlier this year with "The Battle of Who Could Care Less" played an electrifying sold-out show last week at The Vic Theatre in Chicago and featured their string, piano and percussion-heavy bossa nova remake of The Flaming Lips' quirky alternative 1993 hit "She Don't Use Jelly." The tongue-in-cheek tribute brought singalongs from the audience and appears on the recently released collection of remakes Lounge-A-Palooza from Hollywood Records. That disc, which features odd pairings of modern artists to cover '60s lounge hits or '60s lounge artists covering modern songs also includes Pizzacato Five bouncing chirpily through Stan Getz's lounge standard "The Girl from Ipanema" and punk popsters Fastball slowing down for big production rendition of Herb Alpert's classic 1968 hit "This Guy's In Love With You." Glen Campbell, Michelle Shocked & Texas Tornados offer a basic rendition of old favorite "Witchita Lineman," Jimmy Scott & Flea provide a slow, funky and fairly unappealing attack on The Captain & Tenille's "Love Will Keep Us Together." But the capper has to be Steve Lawrence & Edie Gorme's sickly smarmy cover of Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun" (a must at any party with grunge fans in attendance). Other contributing artists include Poe, Fun Lovin' Criminals, Polly Jean Harvey, Esquivel!, and Chris Ballew (from The Presidents of the United States of America.) Christmas is coming... New Age artist Lorie Line has made something of a side career out of being a touring holiday music pianist, and on Nov. 18 she brings her Pop Chamber Orchestra to the Rosemont Theatre for a Christmas concert. Line invites fans to bring their jingle bells to the show to play along with the band. She may just like the idea of saying "be there with bells on" a little too much. The tour supports a new album (naturally), Home For The Holidays, a collection of the best of her three Sharing The Season albums. Included are 15 instrumental holiday standards, from "I Saw Three Ships and Silent Night" to "Carol of the Bells" and "Ave Maria." Speaking of Christmas...

 

'Tis the season for collections...


As holiday buying frenzy approaches, just about everyone seems to have a Best Of album coming out. Environmental activists Midnight Oil have 20,000 Watt R.S.L. out on Columbia, which includes hits like "Dreamworld," "Blue Sky Mine," "Beds Are Burning" and "Forgotten Years," along with two new, heavily percussive tracks "What Goes On" and "White Skin Black Heart." Long disbanded punky rockers The Replacements and X both have two-disc retrospectives out. The Replacements' All For Nothing features the college hits "Kiss Me On The Bus," "Can't Hardly Wait" "Talent Show," and "I'll Be "You" along with 17 previously unreleased tracks and their long-forgotten but brilliant cover of "Cruella DeVille" (taken from a Disney tribute album). X's Beyond and Back offers a plethora of unreleased X songs along with the band's better known material and a CD booklet of tribute comments from members of The Go-Gos, The Wallflowers, Concrete Blonde and more.

The Cure and Elvis Costello both have 18-song retrospectives of their past decade's worth of music now on the shelves, each with a token "previously unreleased" trump card. The Cure's Galore kicks off with music from 1987's Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me in the horn happy "Why Can't I Be You?" "Just Like Heaven," and "Hot Hot Hot!!!" The collection continues with the band's moodier hits from Disintegration ("Fascination Street" "Pictures of You" and "Lovesong") and then two tracks from the Mixed Up remix album — the revamped "Close To You" and Mixed Up's token new song, "Never Enough." Galore continues with the band's "happy" period singles from Wish and last year's Wild Mood Swings with "Friday I'm In Love," "The 13th" and "Mint Car." It closes with "Wrong Number," a new pounding electronic dance track that's a hybrid of "Never Enough," "Club America" from their last disc, and "Burn," their single from The Crow soundtrack (which is sadly missing from this otherwise excellent collection)...Costello's Extreme Honey on Warner Bros. starts off with "The Bridge I Burned," the new track, a funky beated, falsetto-brandishing bit of ...well, nothing special, actually. It continues with Costello's best work from his Warner Bros. output with "Veronica," "13 Steps Lead Down," "Kinder Murder," "The Other Side of Summer" and "Deep Dark Truthful Mirror" (from the Spike, Brutal Youth and Mighty Like A Rose albums). It also covers his more laidback and lushly orchestrated period in "All This Useless Beauty," "Poor Fractured Atlas" and "The Birds Will Still Be Singing" from the All This Useless Beauty and The Juliet Letters albums...

What happens when you sign an artist on the basis of one hit song and then his career dries up? You issue a greatest hits collection. That's my take on The Greatest Hits of Snow, on EastWest Records. Snow has only had one real hit, "Informer" and only three albums. Greatest? Hits?

Elektra has released a greatest hits disc of material from folk singer Judy Collins. The 31-song, two-disc collection includes her hits "Both Sides Now," "Chelsea Morning" and "Send In The Clowns." For fans of Irish rock, Paradigm Records has pulled together a career retrospective of The Saw Doctors, a popular UK guitar rock band that has never managed a presence in America. If you wished that The Proclaimers had actually had something up their sleeves to follow up "5000 Miles," you might give this collection a listen. Another UK band, which has achieved some underground success on these shores, The London Suede, has a two-CD collection out. Sci-Fi Lullabies on Nude/Columbia features 27 songs of chiming Oasis-style thick Brit accented heavy alternative rock.

 

Reissues & Concerts:


The Right Stuff label has reissued the mid-70s output of the Dwight Twilley Band, Twilley Don't Mind and Sincerely, the latter of which includes the band's one hit "I'm On Fire," and the former of which includes a guest appearance by Twilley pal Tom Petty...Frank Sinatra fans who long for Ol' Blue Eyes' last real studio album on CD can now pick up L.A. Is My Lady, Sinatra's 1984 recording with Quincy Jones and Orchestra on Qwest Records. The disc includes a host of talented session men, from George Benson to Bob James backing up Sinatra on the now dated sounding Jones original title track as well as through 10 other classic songs like "Mack The Knife" and "Stormy Weather."

Elektra Records has reissued the No Nukes live concert recording from a series of 1979 shows at Madison Square Garden.The two-disc set includes music from The Doobie Brothers, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Brown, James Taylor, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and more, along with liner notes filled with anti-nuclear propaganda...Digging back a decade earlier, Arista offers a two-CD Grateful Dead concert on CD, taped at an "early" and a "late" show at the Fillmore East on Feb. 11, 1969. The sound on this eclectic mix of blues and rock jams is better than your average bootleg recording thanks to some high-tech remix enhancement, but still has some sonic blemishes (mics fading in and out, occasional faraway sounding vocals) which leave it not quite up to par with other Dead live discs. Dead fans will relish this bit of early band history, however...A Phish concert taped this year in Germany is now available on Slip Stitch and Pass from Elektra, which includes Phish concert staples and a cover of David Byrne's "Cities."