ufoIt’s that time of the week again when our resident Classic Rock columnist Self Made Man chews the fat.

And this week he turns his attention to the value of the Best Of album – namechecking just a few of the discs that spawned a lifelong love of rock’s biggest names.

Remember to check out Self Made Man exclusively here every week. 


It’s at about this time of year that record companies release “Best Of” and “Greatest Hits” packages of some of the biggest bands in the world.

And many sell many more than the studio albums from which their contents are cherry-picked. An obvious example is The Eagles’ Greatest Hits which is among the top ten best sellers of all-time.

I place “Best Of” albums in two very distinct brackets and both serve a very useful purpose.

Looking at my own collection, I have numerous “Best Of” albums” but paradoxically, the ones I never listen to are those released by my favourite bands. I’ll explain later.

And then there is the casual collection. Itemised in this section, I have albums by such diverse acts as The Boom Town Rats, Blondie, Blur, Cream, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Dusty Springfield, The Doors, Elvis Costello, The Kinks, Mamas and Papas, Motorhead, Uriah Heep, Ocean Colour Scene, The Police and Roxy Music.

Generally these are bands I like to dip into occasionally but none would appear in my top 30.

So while I enjoy listening to The Police’s singles, I’ve never been tempted to explore them more closely.

It’s the same with Elvis Costello and Dusty Springfield. I’m a casual fan of their music but wouldn’t call myself an obsessive.

If that’s the casual collection, I’ll call category No. 2, the tasters.

The first “Greatest Hits” records I ever bought were “24 Carat Purple” and “The Story Of The Who” as a teenager in the late 70s.

Listening to them sparked a lifelong love affair with Deep Purple and The Who.

Those two vinyl LPs are gathering dust in my attic and probably haven’t been played for over 30 years.

That’s because they whetted my appetite to such an extent that I went out and bought the studio albums so that I could explore the two bands even more. 

I got into Neil Young in my 30s after listening to “Archive”  – a collection of his finest songs from the previous two decades.

Now I have more than 30 albums by Young and the only one I never listen to is “Archive.” It served its purpose but is now musically redundant.

A few years ago when Led Zeppelin released Mothership, quite a few friends of my eldest son, who was 17 at the time, bought it.

I bumped into one of them at a 21st birthday party last week and asked him if he still listened to it. He doesn’t because he went out and bought Zeppelin’s eight studio albums.

A few days earlier, a mate of mine lent me greatest hits albums by the Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan, bands from the 70s, of which I had very little knowledge.

I’ve enjoyed the music so much – particularly Steely Dan’s – that I want to hear more from them and yesterday I ordered Steely Dan’s first two studio albums.

In return for those “Greatest Hits” loans, I gave my mate UFO’s Strangers In The Night and The Answer’s Rise to listen to.

I’ll be seeing him tomorrow. Wonder if he’s bought Lights Out or New Horizon yet?

Ian Murtagh