Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Start Feeling Old: The Next Generation of Best-Of's Begin

Best-Of's, Greatest Hits, etc etc, whatever you call the compilation of an artist's history, these things are a dime a dozen in popular music. It could take as little as 2 records, or as many 5 or 6, before an artist, or really an artist's label, contemplate putting out a compilation. But in the world of Indie, underground, alternative music, compilations are rarer, and in fact, they are often used as a one-stop resource for a band that never really sold records in the first place. And of course, in both the mainstream and Indie worlds, the 21st century combination of MP3 playlists and the depletion of album sales has put a chilling effect on comps.

In addition to the Ipod revolution, the 21st century's first real music moment was the garage and retro rock revivals of the early 2000's. The U.S.A. and Scandinavia really dominated those scenes, and the four bands that broke into the mainstream (of sorts) in 2002 and 2003 were the White Stripes, the Strokes, the Hives, and the Vines (who were from Australia and didn't last long because their lead singer was unstable and that's OK because they stunk). The British, rather surprisingly, did not contribute much during this brief wave (they were too busy loving the White Stripes and their cohorts like Electric Six). The one band they really contributed were the Libertines who essentially share the same biographical saga as the Vines.

But as 2007 draws to an end, the Libertines become the first band of that generation to get a compilation record. Why them? Because they folded rather completely, and their leader, Pete Dougherty, remains a non-stop tabloid machine in the U.K. What's a bit wrong is that the Libertines didn't have the quantity of work (let alone quality but that's subjective) to merit a compilation and considering they're long finished and that conventional albums are dying, and especially considering that the MP3 player has killed any need for official compilations, this is a rather pointless release, innit? If the Libertines should be remembered for anything it should be for their one decent song, "Vertigo", and that their quick demise gave way to the next British band of the moment, the Darkness, who were much more fun before their own lead singer's troubles led to their own implosion.

Pitchfork's review of the comp


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