Headbangers’ Brawl 5/6: Greatest Hits Overload?

Posted by on May 6, 2011

Headbanger’s Brawl is a weekly column where Metal Insider’s Bram and Zach take a moment to debate and analyze two opposing sides of a topical issue occurring in the world of metal and/or the music industry.

Today, EMI announced that they will be releasing a new Iron Maiden hits package called From Fear To Eternity: The Best Of 1990-2010 on June 6. The 2 disc compilation features Maiden material from, you guessed it, the past two decades, including songs from the band’s less than a year old The Final Frontier. This makes the sixth compilation album the band/their label has released in their entire life span. Maiden now joins the ranks of Motley Crue and Rush (just to name a few) with having a crap load of hit packages. With that in mind, Bram and Zach discuss in this week’s Headbangers’ Brawl the purpose of releasing greatest hits albums and debate whether having so many compilations is excessive.

Bram: There are a lot of reasons bands release greatest hits albums. Ok, actually, it’s less the bands themselves and more the labels’ ideas. I think that in reality, maybe one greatest hits album per decade is all that’s needed, but it doesn’t work out that way. Look at Motley Crue. Every time they change labels, which is often, there’s a greatest hits comp that comes out. Unnecessary? Perhaps, but it seems to be paying off for them. Also, it should be noted that the June 6 release date suggests that it’s a UK release and there’s no word on whether it’s a U.S. one. Maiden’s huge here, but they’re even bigger back home.

Zach: See I can’t dis the “hits compilation” itself, for they serve as great ways for fans to get a taste of a band, and sometimes leads those fans into buying the actual full album. But I guess what bewilders me more than the fact that some bands have over 5 hits compilations (I love you Iron Maiden, but why the hell would I want a 2 disc cd featuring the best of 1990-2010?!) is that people still buy them. For a while, as we were doing Metal By Numbers, I would be amazed to see that Crue’s new compilation CD was constantly selling and charting in the top 200. Who seriously doesn’t at this point in their lives own either an actual Crue album or at least one of their previous hit packages?!

B: I think the reason to have a Maiden compilation from 1990-2010 is essentially that there hasn’t been one yet. That sounds kind of lame, but with the band’s recent set list consisting of mostly music from the Janick Gers years, there isn’t a definitive compilation of that. Sure, the first seven albums are their classics, but there’s a whole new generation of fans that grew up with the latter day stuff, and if they’re going to buy records, might as well give them the chance to.

Z: But if you did indeed grow up with the later stuff, then wouldn’t you most likely already have those albums? It’s not like the material featured on this compilation is that old. Hell, Brave New World came out only ten years ago, while Final Frontier just last Summer. What are the chances that fans who grew up with this material don’t already own those albums? Same deal goes for the latest Crue package. For the exception of a few tracks from Saints of Los Angeles, and a remix of “Animal”, it pretty much was tracks that everyone most likely already owns.

B: The hardcore fan is a completist. That means they’ll likely have the albums, but if there’s a few new songs/new art/a DVD etc., they’re going to want to have that. And as for the casual fan, or someone that went to a recent Maiden show and was turned on to the band, that’s where a greatest hits comp comes into play.

Z: Even if the band already has a crap load of hits compilations available for purchase?

B: It depends on how big the band is. But as long as record labels exist, they’re going to repackage music by bands that sell.


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Categorised in: Headbangers Brawl