TV Cream

Cream over Britain

Bonus tracks of our years

It’s a desperately tricky business persuading music fans to invest in a copy of a greatest hits collection that contains material not yet proven by commerce to be a hit or by history to be, well, great.

On the other hand, it’s a desperately tricky business persuading music fans to buy hits they already own. Especially if some of them were never that great in the first place.

What, then, are some of the best and worst examples of the dreaded compilation album “bonus track”? Here are eight efforts, with mixed results, each of which we’ve arbitrarily assessed and then, according to whether it’s a hit or a miss, placed either on TV Cream’s long-established (as of a few hours ago) A-list or Eh? list.

ALBUM: All The Best! by Paul McCartney (1987)

BONUS TRACK: Once Upon a Long Ago

UPSIDES: Whenever Paul dipped into his satchel marked “Songs about songs and me singing them”, he usually delivered a winner (Two Of Us, Ebony and Ivory, Maybe I’m Amazed, The Songs We Were Singing etc.). So is the case again here. A slice of mid-tempo melodious wistfulness is matched by some of our kid’s finest lyrics (“Desolate tunes with a lot to say… Making up moods in a minor key, what have those tunes got to do with me?”)

DOWNSIDES: Macca seems to lose interest two-thirds of the way through. Just when you think he’s revving up for killer middle eight, he opts instead for a repeat of the chorus with half the lyrics replaced by mumbling and, it has to be said, baby noises (“Nay-nur-pla-pla-plah-wen-han-in-han-ee-ha…”). Thankfully he soon reverses out of this cul-de-sac with an ace guitar solo and a cameo on violin from – hey, it’s the late 80s! – Nigel Kennedy.

A-LIST or EH? LIST: A-LIST

ALBUM: The Best Of: 1980-1990 by U2 (1998)

BONUS TRACK: Sweetest Thing

UPSIDES: It’s only three minutes long.

DOWNSIDES: Jesus!* For a start, it’s not even a “new” song: it’s an old B-side from The Joshua Tree era. Second, the “new” version is actually inferior to the original, being slick and soulless where it was once ragged and earthy. It’s also the same bit of tune over and over again, the pianist cocks up the simplest piano riff in diatonic history, and Bono can’t even think of enough lyrics to take us the full distance, chucking in the towel at 2:45 for the line “Doo doo doo doo,” over and over and over again.

A-LIST or EH? LIST: EH? LIST

ALBUM: The Immaculate Collection by Madonna (1990)

BONUS TRACKS: Justify My Love and Rescue Me

UPSIDES: Well, at least Rescue Me has a chorus you can sing along to.

DOWNSIDES: All the huffing and puffing that went on when Justify My Love’s video was released** helpfully distracted the world from the fact the song was, and is, crap. Nobody wants to hear Madonna reciting dirty beat poetry. She’s a singer! If you want to hear badly-rhymed sex chat, try one of Allen Ginsberg or John Shuttleworth’s “raps”. Rescue Me, meanwhile, seems to have been officially erased from Ms Ciccone’s history, being left off the subsequent Celebration greatest hits package. Which is a shame, as despite yet more pervy muttering (“Ooh! Aah! Ooh! Aah!”), it’s 20 times better than its (literal) bedfellow.

A-LIST or EH? LIST: EH? LIST

ALBUM: Discography by Pet Shop Boys (1992)

BONUS TRACKS: DJ Culture and Was It Worth It?

UPSIDES: “We went into the studio with Brothers In Rhythm to record two hit singles for our greatest hits album,” quoth Neil, to which Chris added, on cue, “Obviously, both were flops”. Chart-wise he’s true (at least compared to the Pets’ previous efforts), but DJ Culture was and is far from a flop artistically. A self-confessed attempt to “do another West End Girls” (mysterious chords, spoken verse, sung chorus), it’s one of the pair’s last great “moody” epics, while the lyrics read like an edition of Saturday Night Clive: the Gulf War, materialism, satellite telly, Oscar Wilde, dancing, Madonna and globetrotting.

DOWNSIDES: Was It Worth It? Nope.

A-LIST or EH? LIST: A-LIST for the sublime DJ Culture, EH? LIST for the awfully dated, awfully twee and, well, just plain awful Was It Worth It?

ALBUM: A Life of Surprises: The Best of Prefab Sprout (1992)

BONUS TRACKS: If You Don’t Love Me, The Sound of Crying

UPSIDES: BY 1992 Paddy McAloon had at least 200 unreleased songs in a box under his bed (he now has 600), so his band were never going to have any trouble supplying additional stuff for their greatest hits album. Suffice to say, both are utterly fantastic. If You Don’t Love Me is the best, containing, from 2:31 to 3:02, a chord sequence telegraphed direct from the gods.

DOWNSIDES: There aren’t any.

A-LIST or EH? LIST: A-LIST

ALBUM: Ladies and Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael (1998)

BONUS TRACKS: Outside and As

UPSIDES: “I’d service the community – but I already have.” What a wag! George didn’t really need anything extra to pep up his greatest hits double-disc set (an album featuring the likes of A Different Corner and Praying For Time is not going to suffer from a dearth of quality), but he did so anyway in the shape of a comedy gay song and a superfluous if well-executed celebrity duet.

DOWNSIDES: That bit at the start of Outside where George sings like Barry White is still, even now, profoundly unsettling.

A-LIST or EH? LIST: A-LIST

ALBUM: Carry On Up the Charts: The Best of The Beautiful South (1994)

BONUS TRACK: One Last Love Song

UPSIDES: The promise of the title, i.e. that this would be the last time Heaton and co wrapped their dreary drink-soaked tonsils around a soppy country-tinged ballad, and instead were about to return to doing songs about sleeping in late, Peter Beardsley and self-immolation.

DOWNSIDES: The fact it turned out not to be true. The “limited edition” version of the album loses more points for featuring an “alternative” recording of Let Love Speak Up Itself with one of those imposter women doing the vocals instead of Paul.

A-LIST or EH? LIST: EH? LIST.

ALBUM: Morrissey Greatest Hits (2008)

BONUS TRACKS: That’s How People Grow Up, All You Need Is Me

UPSIDES: Moz leafing through the lexicon of Dr River Song and deciding to call someone a “sweetie”.

DOWNSIDES: “Reissue, repackage, repackage! Reevaluate the songs! Extra track and a tacky badge!” Yes yes, we all heard Steven Patrick railing against the very notion of the bonus track back in the 1980s when he was good and when he brought to all his records a palpable sense of needing sincerity. But this was the noughties when he was crap and when he brought to all of his records a palpable sense of needing the money. Neither of these efforts are much cop, both recycling the same guitar-led mix of muscle and mincing in which Moz has traded since 1992’s Your Arsenal. Worst of all, though, both of the songs turned up on the studio album Years of Refusal barely 12 months later! A tacky badge would’ve been better.

A-LIST or EH? LIST: EH? LIST

*”Yes?” – Bono

** And that was just the people in the video (SATIRE)

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Andy Elms

    July 4, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    Most annoying for The Sweetest Thing was that as it was released in 1998, it was put into the “Best of 1990s” album as well…

  2. fl3m

    July 4, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    The first time I heard the opening bars of The Sweetest Thing I was convinced it was Mark and Lard doing a Shirehorses pisstake.

  3. TV Cream

    July 4, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    …Sentiments that probably led to the two of them banging out some duff notes on their studio piano over the opening bars every time they had to play the song on the air.

  4. @CherryHintonBlu

    July 4, 2010 at 10:29 pm

    Surely “Hey Manhattan!” had been on From Langley Park to Memphis several years earlier?

  5. TV Cream

    July 5, 2010 at 7:45 am

    You’re right! Now corrected.

  6. annoyingmouse

    July 5, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    I felt that the Pet Shop Boys done the same thing with PopArt years later. Flamboyant – brilliant, Miracles – meh. Funnily enough that album didn’t include Was It Worth It?

  7. paulus - bangkok

    July 6, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Macca; slacker!
    Regurge and cash the cheque.
    Hurry, hurry the listeners haven’t caught on yet.
    ‘Blasphemy’ i hear you say… nay, nay and thrice nay… is my respite
    quite simply, in my opinion…. Macca is simply-shite!

    bonus tracks are slacker-tastic!

  8. David Pascoe

    July 7, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    All complaints about The Sweetest Thing are rendered null and void on account of the video being so fantastic.

  9. Applemask

    July 7, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    All You Need Is Me is pretty good. Neither of them should have been anywhere near the studio album though.

  10. Chris Hughes

    July 12, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    One thing we forgot and I think we all did.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=og1HAkjOuL0

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