R.E.M.In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003 (Warner Bros.) Only the omission of moody masterpiece "World Leader Pretend" keeps In Time from perfection. From "Orange Crush" and "Everybody Hurts" to "Imitation of Life" and "All the Right Friends," these 18 post-IRS tracks reveal a band equally adept at plumbing the zeitgeist (new "Bad Day") and plucking indelible melodies out of thin air ("Losing My Religion"). The bonus disc is worth seeking out for alternate versions of "Pop Song '89" and "The One I Love." -- Christopher Gray
THE ESSENTIAL BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN(Columbia) A well-produced companion to previous Springsteen comps, The Essential Bruce Springsteen boasts two discs of anthems from throughout the Jersey troubadour's career, beginning with his carnivalesque "Blinded by the Light" and boardwalking all the way to the searing title track of 2002's The Rising. It's the third bonus disc that's the buried treasure, packing unreleased River-era live rockers, Nebraska-era acoustic tracks, and ending on the heartfelt grace of "Countin' on a Miracle." -- Scott Jordan
BILLY BRAGGMust I Paint You a Picture?: The Essential Billy Bragg (Rhino) Two discs covering Bragg's 20 years as one of England's most outspoken musical activists spotlight his mixture of politics and love songs. Sequenced chronologically, the second disc is less essential, saved by the inclusion of material from the Mermaid Avenue/Wilco sessions. Picture is also available with a 10-song bonus disc, including a live track from earlier this year, a duet with Ted Hawkins, and a remix that merges Bragg with the Hives. -- Jim Caligiuri
TORI AMOSTales of a Librarian: A Tori Amos Collection (Atlantic) Twenty tracks and five bonus-disc videos in a pink digipak, Tales of a Librarian has most of Amos' better-known songs, four new ones (including white-knuckle closer "Jackie's Strength"), and enough off-the-beaten-path cuts to satisfy longtime devotees and Tori initiates alike. A techno remix of "Professional Widow" demonstrates that even librarians need to let loose every once in a while. -- Christopher Gray
BETH ORTONPass in Time: The Definitive Collection (BMG) "Rickie Lee Jones was on my mind," writes post-folkie Beth Orton in the annotation to "She Cries Your Name," beloved opener off her double-wide debut, 1996's Trailer Park. Two more LPs' worth (Central Reservation, Daybreaker) of highlights and 76 minutes later, Rickie and Joni are still on the tip of the tongue. After disc two's remixes and B-sides ("Stars All Seem to Weep," "Safety"), so's the clarion stateliness of another English songbird: Annie Lennox. -- Raoul Hernandez
THE CHEMICAL BROTHERSSingles 93-03 (Astralwerks) How many Chemical Brothers are there, anyway? Sure, there's founding duo Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons, but if Singles reveals anything about the Chem Bros., it's that Noel Gallagher, Bernard Sumner, Wayne Coyne, and rapper K-OS (the latter two featured on two new tracks) are just as much a part of the Chemical mystique. Thirteen tracks, including the spectacularly lame "Hey Boy Hey Girl," cover most (but not all) of the bases. -- Marc Savlov
MOBY18 B Sides + DVD (V2) While most CD/DVD combos are all filler and little killer, 18 B Sides + DVD swims instead of sinks thanks to its visual component being packed to the gills. It's a whale of a collection that skips through lackluster singles' siblings and shifts to a bombastic DVD with enough content for three releases. An entire live set at Glastonbury 2003 charms, as do the dance remixes and 18 outtakes/demos that rival the B-sides. -- Matt Dentler
NO DOUBTThe Singles 1992-2003 (Interscope) Hands up, everyone who thought No Doubt would disappear after "Just a Girl." Me too. Not only are they still here, these OC ska and New Wave geeks have crafted some of the past decade's most indelible pop moments: "Don't Speak," "Simple Kind of Life," "Hey Baby" -- and they're still doing it with a sumptuous cover of Talk Talk's "It's My Life." -- Christopher Gray
Red Hot Chili PeppersGreatest Hits and Videos (Warner Bros.) With the exception of Dave Navarro-era best-forgottens -- "My Friends" on CD plus "Aeroplane" on the DVD -- GH&V is as twisted and tight as the "Scar Tissue" on John Frusciante's arms. His genius, his hits, starting with Mothers Milk on video, and bookended by two new tracks on the audio; "Save the Population" glistens like By the Way, documented in length on the DVD, which includes commentary by the band on their visual Californication. -- Raoul Hernandez
PANTERAThe Best of Pantera: Far Beyond the Southern Cowboys' Vulgar Hits!
(Rhino/Elektra) Believe it or not, there was a time when metal without falsetto wails and/or rap breaks ruled the roost. Texas metal gods Pantera's early-Nineties reign is recast here in much of its glory ("Cemetery Gates," "Mouth for War"), as is their later decline into mediocrity, outside of the eight-minute proggy surprise of 2000's "I'll Cast a Shadow." Ten videos on a DVD follow the same trajectory, augmented by two standout prime-period live cuts. -- Michael Chamy
ROB ZOMBIEPast, Present & Future (Geffen) An obsession with horror flicks, muscle cars, strippers, and Seventies funk-pop -- he's remade both "Brick House" and "I'm Your Boogieman" -- made Rob Zombie one of the Nineties' unlikeliest pop stars. A Howard Stern appearance notwithstanding, the monster riffs and seductive underpinnings of "Super-Charger Heaven," "Superbeast," and "Pussy Liquor" are guaranteed to rev your motor. -- Christopher Gray
UNSANELambhouse: The Collection 1991-1998 (Relapse) From the grainy mess of the Charlie Ondras era up through the sculpted mayhem of 1998's Occupational Hazard, criminally overlooked Brooklyn noise-rock kings the Unsane -- and their album covers -- have always approximated a gory head-on car crash. Ditto with this evenly distributed compilation of material from their five albums. Included is MTV surprise "Scrape," also on the bonus DVD with four other videos and 19 cuts from four live sets from 1992 to 2003. Unsane value! -- Michael Chamy
ROBERT PLANTSixty Six to Timbuktu (Atlantic) Eight solo albums, endless tributes (Elvis, Skip Spence, Arthur Alexander, Rainer Ptacek), and soundtracks/compilations (Porky's Revenge!; Afro-Celt Sound System) should've been sequenced chronologically. After the cheap Eighties techno wears off disc one's solo slapdashery, and pre-Zep Bonzo blues clash against the contemporary B-sides of disc two, Percy's tall, cool croon on "If I Were a Carpenter," "Sea of Love," "Big Log," and "Ship of Fools" remains Kashmir. Ditto an updated "Louie Louie," cut at Arlyn. -- Raoul Hernandez
THE ESSENTIAL JIMMIE VAUGHAN(Legacy) Only two Fabulous Thunderbirds tracks on an Essential Jimmie Vaughan set is guitar-god blasphemy, but since JV's done the solo thing for 15 years now, best to quit dreaming of T-Bird reunions. The Strange Pleasure tracks pack the most wallop, the Hammond B-3 organ thump and doo-wop and gospel backing vocals of Vaughan's Tilt-a-Whirl Band being righteous. Rarity factor: a killer version of the 5 Royales' "I Like It Like That," a Vaughan live staple. -- Scott Jordan
ROBERT EARL KEENThe Party Never Ends: Songs You Know From the Times You Can't Remember (Sugar Hill) Keen claims this is an "unauthorized" best-of, but Sugar Hill has done a magnificent job culling the three albums he made for the label into one disc. At 13 tracks it seems a little short, but if you don't have "Copenhagen," "The Five Pound Bass," "The Front Porch Song," not to mention Keen's famous Christmas ditty, they're all here. Sure to be a party fave on campuses all over Texas. -- Jim Caligiuri
THE EAGLESThe Very Best Of (Warner Music Group) Since most of the known world already owns the laid-back L.A. roots-rockers' greatest hits, this two-disc, 33-song anthology is presumably for latecomers, completists, and the band's accountants. Critics are apt to dismiss their body of work as overproduced, coke-addled FM schmaltz, but it's been mighty influential over the years; consider, for instance, that without "Already Gone" there would be no Drive-by Truckers. -- Christopher Gray
GREG BROWNIf I Had Known: Essential Recordings, 1980-1996 (Red House) Not sure why this stops at 1996, as Brown still records for Red House. It seems they simply ran out of room. Still, this is a superb introduction to one of America's great, yet still relatively obscure, singer-songwriters. Fans will want the set's second disc, a 46-minute limited edition DVD. It contains a 1993 documentary with concert performances, interviews, and a glimpse at Brown's decidedly rural home in southern Iowa. -- Jim Caligiuri
BIG STAR STORY(Rykodisc) Although any attempt at a Big Star best-of was bound to leave apostles fuming at the lineup (where's "Watch the Sunrise"!?), the influential Memphis pop band definitely deserves a better-executed introduction than Story. The well-duh choices -- "September Gurls," "In the Street," "Thank You Friends" -- are all here, but substituting live takes of songs like "Thirteen" and "You Get What You Deserve" for studio versions without even mentioning it in the liner notes is embarrassingly slipshod. -- Greg Beets
SPAINSpirituals: The Best of Spain (Restless) Spain crept under the mainstream radar so thoroughly that bassist/founder Josh Haden (son of jazz legend Charlie) might have been better off if he'd kept his Viper Room residency in lieu of recording the three CDs from which Spirituals is drawn. Thanks to a minor groundswell of critical acclaim and superfan Bono's praises, Spain's effortlessly sweeping murmurs -- think Red House Painters meet Luna on planet Dilaudid -- have become late-night soundtrack staples in Silverlake hipster homes and beyond. -- Marc Savlov
RIDEWaves (The First Time) As their contemporaries languish in obscurity, British shoegazers supreme Ride have undergone a renaissance. After a recent catalog overhaul comes this compilation of 17 BBC radio session tracks from 1990-94. It's Ride all over, from the inspired early singles and Nowhere sculptures like "Dreams Burn Down" through potent Pale Saints and Dead Can Dance covers into the vanilla mediocrity of the last two albums that presaged the descent of Britpop into the tired dreck of today. -- Michael Chamy
TEENAGE FANCLUBFour Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty-Six Seconds: A Shortcut to Teenage Fanclub (Jetset) You forget just how ravishing Teenage Fanclub was until the opening squall of "The Concept" almost obliterates your Polk's high end. That shriek quickly morphs into some of the most abrasively lovely pop ever recorded, led by smart boy Gerard Love's plaintive croon and wry lyrics, and backed by a Glasgow-born sense of songcraft that made Primal Scream seem downright sickly. Three new songs are nearly as fine as anything on Bandwagonesque. -- Marc Savlov
GOODIE MOBDirty South Classics (Arista) Five years feels like 50 since '99's third and final Goodie Mobbing, World Party, and even Soul Food ("Cell Therapy," "Goodie Bag") and Still Standards like "They Don't Dance No Mo'" and "Beautiful Skin" sound like last millennium. T-Mo, Big Gipp, and Khujo have since ceded the Dirty South to their fourth -- Cee-Lo -- and seconds, OutKast, which gobbles up three of the first six courses (outta 15). Classic, conscious, conservative beat boxing. -- Raoul Hernandez
Abby Johnston, Fri., May 24, 2013
Kevin Curtin, Fri., May 24, 2013
Austin Powell, Fri., May 24, 2013
Doug Freeman, Fri., May 24, 2013
Kevin Curtin, Fri., May 24, 2013
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