I am a music obsessive. I love discovering an artist and digging into their back-catalog, down to b-sides and compilation tracks. Even with artists I already love I can find neglected periods in their history that deserve reappraisal. But sometimes I want to separate the wheat from the chaff and listen to just the best bits. And frankly, with so much music at my fingertips I don't always want to hear the second tier material, deserving as it may be. That's where a well-compiled collection does the job. But inevitably, I find there are key tracks missing, a single disc doesn't satisfy or an artist's huge catalog requires a bigger overview. I'm lazy, I want an easy starting point to build a playlist. At this point, here's what I do:
First I read about existing compilations on Allmusic.com and Rateyourmusic.com, my go-to resources for reviews.
If there's a clear winner, I'll pick it up or recreate it if I own most of it already.
I will often make a spreadsheet and collate tracklistings across comps - this is a quick way of determining if any obvious tracks are missing. If something shows up on four out of five comps but not the one I picked, I'll add it to mine.
Sometimes I'll review the I Love Music or Steve Hoffman forums - they're great sources of discussion for people like me and they usually have threads discussing artists best tracks.
Lastly, I'll add my own picks if I'm very familiar with an artists catalog.
This has served me very well. As I said, I'm lazy - I don't want to listen to and rate tracks off 10 albums! But as I'll discuss, once in a while that is exactly what I do. In the coming posts I'll share how I improved upon, or created, artist compilations.
I told you I was obsessive!