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U218 - The Best Of   Print  E-mail 
Written by Mark Reed  
Monday, 20 November 2006
 .. After all, it’s "The Best Of", you fanboy, not anything designed to please you...

 

I’m fucking sick of record companies thinking they can fleece us.

 

A ‘Best of’ is aimed at two types of people : completists who have to have everything – and people who can’t even be bothered to pay £6.99 for the album when it comes out. Perhaps the worst thing about this is the overall sense of callous exploitation. I know music is a business, but to me, the words “Music” and “Business” go together like “Military” and “Intelligence”.

 

So, on November 20th, be amazed – or more correctly, slightly bored when a third U2Best Of” hits the racks. 16 songs you’ve heard before, and 2 you haven’t.

 

What bothers me most is the lack of care and attention to detail that bands and labels put into these releases - how do they do it?

 

1. Ensure a poor track selection.

 

Every band and their dog now has these a greatest hits. But what shall the band do? They’ll pick only the biggest hits, and forget to include anything of value to the real fan. Want a vinyl only recording of “Out Of Control”? Want the vinyl only single of “11 O Clock Tick Tock”? What about “A Celebration”?

 

Nope. What about the fourth appearance on CD of “New Years Day” – that’ll keep you happy. If you want “11 O Clock Tick Tock” on CD, furgeddabuit. You can always pay through the nose at iTunes for low-bit-rate, DRM’ed crud. Or pick up an old 7” for silly money. Go on. Those jets need to be paid for. After all, it’s The Best of, you fanboy, not anything designed to please you.

 

2. Non chronologcial sequencing

 

Hang on a cottonpicking minute - Hits never sound better in the order they were released. You don’t want to hear the band change, evolve/devolve, and you can follow the narrative. But if I wanted songs to appear in some random haphazard way that sounds like it’s being chosen by an unfeeling machine with no understanding of context, style, or taste, I can always hit “Shuffle” on my black & red etched signature 20GB U2Pod. OK?

 

3. Cover Art

An old picture with some fancy warholian colours and a bizarre typeface. That’ll do it. Forget the care and attention people use to put to designing a work of art knowin as an album sleeve. CD is disposable, transient : a consumer product, baked beans. Just write “U2 BEST OF” on the front, you’ll do fine.

 

 

4. Don’t actually use the singles.

 

I already have the album versions of these songs : why not the remix you did for the single? After all, if you want to lure in punters, that’s the one they know and love. Did you know that “Where The Streets Have No Name” was re-recorded for single release, and aside from a 20 year old CD (probably with PDO disc-rot), it’s never been on a hits album? Don’t dare put the fucker out. Let it rot. Put the album version on - it's less hassle that way.

 

5. Ignore the stench of contractual obligation

 

How much money do U2 need? Even the Irish government is building the band their  own skyscraper. And you’ve only released four singles since your last hits compilation. So why not be money grubbing cunts and sell your dignity. Treat your fans and the songs with the respect they deserve. They’ll buy any old crap ; sell it to them.

 

6. Don’t release a B-Sides album

 

In their career, U2 have managed to hide new recordings on the flipside of all but 2 of their 45 singles – put out a singles or b-sides box set. If you want to fleece us, reprint all the singles as CD’s in card sleeves and flog us a ‘complete a’s & b-sides’ 45CD box set for something ridiculous – if you must. At worst, a 4 or 5 CD box set of all the 100 or so non-album songs with a little book in. Or… why not….

 

7. A Crappy Remixes Bonus Disc

 

I thought a bonus was ‘free’? Not anymore. Your bonus disc can cost up to £9 for say, a 20 minute DVD, or a bunch of crappy generic listen-just-once-and-then-destroy remixes. If you’re lucky the bonus disc has unreleased stuff – for maximum fan fleeceage – but whatever you do, make sure it’s in a non-chronological order, and only live versions or pisspoor demos. Get yourself a clue Bono, - you haven’t got a danceable bone in your skinny white rock body, so stop trying to chase the latest club trend and admit that white saviours can’t dance. 

 

 

8. The DVD

 

Put some of your promo videos on a DVD, slap on some ‘deluxe limited edition’ content (a couple of TV appearances, an alternate video, maybe an interview with the band’s hairstylist, assuming you're not suing them). Whatever you do – don’t put ALL your videos on the package, and don’t dare think about a Beatles-style Anthology release with anything resembling an interesting documentary, lest you be providing your fans with value for money. Don’t forget to put some stupidly obscure ‘easter eggs’ : insert the number of the year the band formed at one particular menu to see a 45 second montage of Bono’s hairstyles over the years to a techno remix of “Pride (In The Name Of Martin Luther King And African Justice)”. And then charge us £19.99 for it. Go on!

 

9. Don’t play live

 

Fly all the way to the US or England, and then ONLY play four songs live on TV to 300 people. Don’t even think about selling tickets for gigs – even though you’ll shill your wares for free on TV. Be one of the biggets bands in the world, and perform for a randomly chosen selection of 300 bored  punters who only recognise the singer as the guy who meets the politician dudes and flashes “V” signs at cameras.

 

10. Whatever you do…

 

Don’t treat your catalogue with respect. Don’t put the singles out in chronological versions. Don’t use the now obscure, and out-of-print singles mixes. Don’t re-release rare songs or b-side only mixes. Don’t treat your fans with respect. Don’t give us value for money. Don’t provide any unreleased or rare material. Don’t open the vaults. Don’t have tasteful cover art. Don’t forget not to remaster your crappy sounding CD’s that reflect a rushed CD reissue 20 years ago. Don’t forget to leave hundreds of songs sitting on the shelf. Don’t forget to release a new album every four years, because you don’t want to dilute the brand with too many releases (hint: it’s too late for that). Don’t make us think you actually treat your artistic legacy with any respect or reverence. Treat your catalogue as a treasure to be plundered, raped and thrown away. And remember – taste is the enemy of cash. Just implore your fans to follow Bob Geldof’s instructions…. AND GIVE US YOUR FUCKING MONEY!

 

 

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