Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Legacy Greatest Hits Reissues

Posted By on Wed, Feb 22, 2006 at 12:00 AM

Daryl Hall & John Oates
Rock 'N Soul, Part 1 (reissue with bonus tracks)

Epic/Legacy

Terence Trent D'Arby
Do You Love Me Like You Say: The Very Best of Terence Trent D'Arby

Columbia/Legacy

Living Colour
Everything is Possible: the Best of Living Colour

RCA/Legacy

The purist argument against greatest hits albums isn't totally flawed. They're often mishandled or scattershot — the discographies of many career artists are muddled with goofy imports or budget-line comps that deliver only one or two durable hits. Hall & Oates, for example, have been anthologized more than a dozen times. The casual fan has to wonder: Which retrospective is best? Sony Music's Legacy Recordings division has gone a long way toward answering this question. Sony's vaults are vast, which usually solves pesky licensing issues. And the solid track listings of Legacy's releases are supported with complete recording information, insightful liner notes and top-shelf remastering. Three of the imprint's latest offerings live up to this standard. But Hall & Oates' reissued Rock 'N Soul, Part 1; Do You Love Me Like You Say: The Best of Terence Trent D'Arby; and Everything is Possible: The Best of Living Colour deliver what the purist's elitist sputtering never will — just the hits please, the highlights, and make them sound better than ever.

Originally released in 1983, Rock 'N Soul revisited Hall & Oates' hitmaking, MTV-broadcast run of the previous three years, including the tickling R&B slink of "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)" and the brightly soulful, irresistibly poppy "You Make My Dreams" and "Private Eyes." Legacy's 2006 reissue is identical, but adds the H20 classic "Family Man," which would be a hit again in 2006 if covered by Spoon.

As for Do You Love Me Like You Say, it's more of a reintroduction than a retrospective. A fiery alchemy of Prince, Otis Redding, libido and ego, Terence Trent D'Arby burned out before he could realize the commercial success of the 1988 singles "Wishing Well" and "Sign Your Name." But his ensuing work was ambitious, frustrating and occasionally beautiful, and for Do You Love Me, Legacy correctly chose tracks that highlight a career of both breakthrough and promise. It includes "Delicate," D'Arby's sweaty 1993 duet with Des'Ree, and the anxious electric funk of "T.I.T.S./F&J." TTD's self-penned liner notes — written under his new moniker Sananda Maitreya — are worth a read for anyone wondering where the enigmatic singer's current passions lie.

Passion was also a guiding principle for Living Colour, the groundbreaking black rock combo that exploded the consciousness of blasé suburban America with the 1988 shredder "Cult of Personality." Everything is Possible is heavy on cuts from Vivid and Time's Up, its 1990 follow-up, and this makes sense — these were the records that weaponized Living Colour's potent sound and vision, as proved by "Funny Vibe" (complete with cameos from Chuck D. and Flavor Flav), "Middle Man," the still-gorgeous "Solace of You," and the righteous, rightly accusatory "Elvis is Dead."

Each of these sets has curious inclusions. (No one needs to hear Hall & Oates' turgid retelling of "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" ever again.) But they're successful at helping us remember, reminisce or even rock out, and those feelings, at the heart of it, are what greatest hits are for.

Johnny Loftus writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

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