There really are more War best-of packages than the situation warrants, and while the double-CD The Very Best of War is a fine compilation if you don't already have one in your collection, it's questionable whether it was a necessary addition to the band's discography. For one thing, it doesn't differ all that much from the previous two-CD War best-of on Rhino, Anthology (1970-1994). Sure, each has a few tracks not on the other, but both are built around their lengthy string of big hits. Even Barry Alfonso's accompanying essay was adapted from the liner notes to Anthology (1970-1994). Still, this does have all of the big chart hits and a few minor ones, as well as standout album tracks from throughout the 1970s and early '80s that illustrate the band's versatility. Reading the small print on the track listings, it's revealed that half a dozen of these cuts are edits that either appear here for the first time or were only available on previous anthologies or imports.
Graham McPherson, known by the stage name Suggs, is an English singer-songwriter, musician, radio personality and actor. In a music career spanning more than 30 years, Suggs came to prominence in the late 1970s as the lead singer of the ska band Madness, which released fifteen singles that entered the Top 10 charts in the United Kingdom during the 1970s, 1980s and the 1990s, including "My Girl", "Baggy Trousers", "Embarrassment", "It Must Be Love", "House of Fun", "Driving in My Car", "Our House", "Wings of a Dove" and "Lovestruck". Suggs began his solo career in 1995, while still a member of Madness. Since then, he has released two studio albums, and two compilation albums. His solo hits include "I'm Only Sleeping", "Camden Town", "Cecilia" and "Blue Day".
From a label with no shortage of first-rate jazz material come this very attractive vocal sampler. Staying true to the Compact Jazz ethos, Best of the Jazz Vocalists favors quality over hits and comes with a budget price tag. The majority of songs are from the label's prime '50s and '60s run, including a cloud-bound "Summertime" by Helen Merrill and one of the all-time great versions of "If You Could See Me Now," compliments of Billy Eckstine. Continuing with this balancing act between the sexes, the collection also includes fine work by Bill Henderson, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Abbey Lincoln, Jon Hendricks, Shirley Horn, and Anita O'Day; latter-day entries include Lincoln's "I've Got Thunder and It Rings" from her 1990 Verve debut and Horn's "I Got Lost in His Arms" from 1988's Close Enough for Love. Nicely wrapped up with Nina Simone's Afro-percussion clarion call "Come Ye," this Verve roundup works as the perfect primer for more adventurous trips through the label's fertile stores of essential jazz.
M.U. falls into the classic example of a compilation that is bound to irritate the dedicated yet will satisfy the needs of less devoted listeners. Since Jethro Tull is a prog rock band that made cohesive concept albums, there will always be an audience that will believe it is impossible to assemble a coherent anthology, but the fact of the matter is, the group had a lot of songs that were staples on album rock radio and M.U. simply compiles those tracks for listeners who don't want to invest in a series of concept records…
The Farm were never one of the great Madchester bands, writing only one truly memorable single ("All Together Now") and turning out a bunch of pleasant, nondescript baggy. The Best of the Farm collects all of the singles and highlights from the group's three albums. There aren't any hidden treasures here, but anyone nostalgic for the pleasures of loping beats, baggy clothes, neo-psychedelia and buckets of Ecstasy should be pleased with this collection.
Best Of Street New Orleans is giving 10 local musicians an opportunity to professionally record and produce The Best Of Street album.