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Greatest Misses

The most embarrassing “Greatest Hits” omissions


Artist: Thomas Dolby
Collection: Hyperactive (1997)
Omission: “Europa and the Pirate Twins”

    Even before “She Blinded Me With Science” went top 10 and immortalized Thomas Dolby as a one-hit wonder, album-rock stations gave listeners two great reasons to buy The Golden Age of Wireless. (Or, confusingly, the simultaneously available Blinded By Science EP, which also contained the hit). The first was “One of our Submarines.” The better was “Europa and the Pirate Twins,” a melodic ache for lost friendship propelled by an upbeat maelstrom of production.


    Dolby probably knew he was in trouble when “Europa,” the first single after “Science,” became an MTV hit, but didn’t make the top 50. Still, he has included the song on every one of his five (!) hits compilations, except for the 1997 release “Hyperactive.” That collection contains songs so obscure I couldn’t remember their titles five minutes after looking at a track listing at Amazon.com, but not “Europa.”

    No attempt to capsualize Dolby’s career is complete without “Europa,” although “Hyperactive” does contain the previously unavailable 8-minute mix of the song “Hyperactive!” called “Get Out of My Mix,” which features the random and frequent interruptions of the “Science!” guy.

    Just to further confuse things, a 1999 compilation, also called “Hyperactive!” but with the exclamation point, does contain “Europa.”

    As it should.

Where to get the track(s):

    Track available on: The Golden Age of Wireless, The Best of Thomas Dolby, Retrospectacle, and Hyperactive!

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Artist: Duran Duran
Collection: Decade (1989)
Omission: “New Moon On Monday”

    While it’s impressive that Duran Duran managed to include all but one of their Top 40 hits onto their first greatest hits CD, Decade, the one they left out was a big one. “New Moon On Monday,” a #10 hit from 1983’s Seven and the Ragged Tiger, was one of those quintessential ’80s records that helped define the sound of the decade. Still, all of the other tracks on Decade were genuine hits (except “Planet Earth” and “Girls on Film,” which should have been hits), so it would be hard to pick one to leave out to make room for “New Moon” (except, perhaps, “Skin Trade.”) Then again, with Decade clocking in at only 60 minutes, there was plenty of room without cutting any of the other tracks.


    The band has since atoned for this omission with the 1999 release of Greatest, which included “New Moon,” almost all of their ’90s hits (although not, unfortunately, 1993’s “Too Much Information”) as well as all of the songs from Decade.

Where to get the track(s):

     Seven and the Ragged Tiger; Greatest

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Artist: Peter Gabriel
Collection: Shaking The Tree: Sixteen Golden Greats (1990)
Omission: “In Your Eyes”

    Peter Gabriel leaving “In Your Eyes” off his greatest hits collection is one of the most unforgivable slights to music fans in the history of the universe. Gabriel might as well have stopped by the houses of each of his fans and given each a punch in the face. The idea, of course, is to make sure people continue to buy So, the album from whence “In Your Eyes” came. But, as if to add insult to injury, he packs Shaking The Tree with other album cuts from So: “Red Rain,” “Don’t Give Up” and “Mercy Street,” in addition to Top 10 hits “Sledgehammer” and “Big Time.” So not only do you have to buy So, but you get to listen to most of it (minus, of course, “In Your Eyes”) on Shaking The Tree anyway.

    Whoever made this decision needs to be strapped to a chair and forced to listen to “This Is The Picture (excellent birds)” at peak volume for 72 hours every week for the rest of their life.

Where to get the track(s):

    Kindly see above.

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Artist: Human League
Collection: The Best of The Human League (1999)
Omission: “Don’t You Want Me?”

    Check out the track list for this 1999 compilation:

1. Love Action (I Believe in Love)
2. Mirror Man
3. Open Your Heart
4. Sound of the Crowd
5. Don’t You Know I Want You
6. Life on Your Own
7. Seconds
8. Hard Times
9. Do or Die
10. Heart Like a Wheel
11. Lebanon
12. Get It Right This Time
13. Louise
14. Kiss the Future
15. Human
16. Let’s Get Together Again

    There’s some great stuff here. But where in the name of Falco is “Don’t You Want Me?”, the band’s first Number One single and the record that helped kick off ’80s synth pop? The simlarly titled “Don’t You Know I Want You” is not mistakenly named; it’s a different song. It’s bad enough that the top 10 song “(Keep Feeling) Fascination” is missing (even record label execs are only human), but for a screw-up like this, those responsible should be exiled to waitress-in-a-cocktail-bar status.

Where to get the track(s):

    Every other Human League compilation in existence.

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Artist: Billy Idol
Collection: Greatest Hits (2001)
Omission: “Mony Mony (Live)”

    What do you do if your biggest hit is a “live” version of one of your earlier, littler hits? Well, in Billy Idol’s case, you put the earlier, littler hit version on your “Greatest Hits” CD, and leave off the bigger hit version. This is, of course, an interesting reversal of the evil practice, common in the early ’80s, of replacing a legitimate studio hit with a live version on the “Greatest Hits” CD (e.g. a live “Hot Blooded” on Foreigner’s “Records,” a live “Roundabout” on Yes’ “Classics.”) Yet it’s not entirely without merit, as a number of radio stations across the country opted to play the studio version of “Mony Mony” instead as the live version was climbing to its #1 peak in 1987. (The studio version peaked at #107 in 1981.)

    Still, since the live version was Billy’s sole #1 hit, and it’s not available elsewhere except as an expensive import, it would have been nice to have both versions included.

Where to get the track(s):

    Idol Songs (Import)

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Artist: Michael Jackson
Collection: Greatest Hits HIStory Volume I (1995, 2001)
Omission: “Say Say Say”

    The problem in compiling a Greatest Hits collection for Michael Jackson is Thriller. With seven Top 10 hits, it’s pretty much a Greatest Hits album by itself. The same is true, to a lesser degree, with Bad. That means that painful omissions are almost guaranteed; rare is the artist who puts all the hits from their biggest album on their Greatest Hits collection (although Cyndi Lauper comes to mind as an exception.) Still, that doesn’t make the omissions of “Human Nature” and “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” from Thriller any less disappointing. And what about “Dirty Diana”? That song hit #1 and is left off the set, while “Heal The World,” a much lesser song (peaking at #26) is inexplicably included. (Hey Michael: Don’t call it Greatest Hits if you’re going to ditch the #1 singles and keep the #26s. Call it Michael’s Inexplicable Favorites instead.)

    But the real cringer is the omission of “Say Say Say.” This was Michael’s second-biggest hit of the 1980s, after “Billie Jean.” It sold over a million copies, topped the pop charts for six weeks, and isn’t available on any Michael Jackson album. Perhaps he didn’t want to pay Paul McCartney the rights (or he asked and Paul told him to take a hike), but whatever the reason, the set suffers greatly from its absence.

Where to get the track(s):

    “Say Say Say” is included on Paul McCartney’s All The Best compilation (although “Maybe I’m Amazed” isn’t, but that’s another story.)

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Artist: Cyndi Lauper
Collection: Twelve Deadly Cyns ...and then some (1994)
Omission: “The Goonies ’R’ Good Enough”

    You have to respect Cyndi for putting all her Top 40 hits from She’s So Unusual on her greatest hits CD (Twelve Deadly Cyns... and then some.) They’re all there: “Girls Just Want To Have Fun,” “Time After Time,” “She Bop,” “All Through The Night” and “Money Changes Everything.” So it’s hard to be too upset at her for leaving off “The Goonies ’R’ Good Enough,” the sole Top 40 hit missing from Twelve Deadly Cyns. While admittedly not her strongest song, “Goonies” did manage to reach #10 on the pop charts and is unavailable anywhere else, except as an import, so it would have been nice to have it on one CD with her other hits. Still, other than perhaps including She’s So Unusual album track and Prince cover “When You Were Mine,” the collection is pretty complete for a single-CD set.

Where to get the track(s):

    Time After Time: The Best of Cyndi Lauper (import).

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Artist: Huey Lewis and The News
Collection: Time Flies: The Best of Huey Lewis and The News (1996)
Omission: “Back In Time”

    Normally, when a band leaves a great song (in this case, 1985’s “Back In Time”) off a compilation, the excuse is that they don’t want to hurt the sales of the original album. But “Back In Time” wasn’t from an original Huey Lewis album: it was released only as a b-side to “Power of Love” and as a track on the Back To The Future soundtrack. Why would they care about its sales?

    Unfortunately, the omissions don’t end there: not only are Top 10 hits “I Know What I Like,” “Perfect World” and “Hip To Be Square” left off, but so is “Jacob’s Ladder,” a #1 hit from 1986’s Fore, and among the best of the band’s post-Sports work. The frustrating thing is, they already had a decent blueprint for a greatest hits CD: 1992’s import-only Heart of Rock & Roll: The Best of Huey Lewis & The News. All the above songs (except for “I Know What I Like”) show up there, along with “Walking On A Thin Line” and “Small World,” which didn’t make the Time Flies cut either.

Where to get the track(s):

    For “I Know What I Like,” you’ll need to get Fore, which also has “Jacob’s Ladder” and “Hip To Be Square.” “Small World” and “Perfect World” are available on Small World, “Back In Time” is available on the Back To The Future soundtrack, and “Walking On A Thin Line” is available on Sports. All of the above tracks, except “I Know What I Like,” are also available on the import CD Heart of Rock & Roll: The Best of Huey Lewis & The News.

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Artist: Madonna
Collection: Immaculate Collection (1991)
Omission: “Dress You Up”

    With thirteen Top 10 hits (eight of them #1), three songs previously unavailable on any Madonna album, and two new tracks that would also hit the Top 10 (“Justify My Love,” “Rescue Me”), it’s pretty hard to complain about the song selection on Madonna’s Immaculate Collection.


    Hard, but not impossible. For example, where are the title tracks to the albums True Blue (#3 in 1986) and Who’s That Girl (#1 in 1987)? And how about the back-to-back #5 hits “Angel” and “Dress You Up” from Like A Virgin? Those last two, especially, were great ’80s tunes and some of Madonna’s best and catchiest. The fact that those hits were not included (nor other great tunes that weren’t big radio hits, such as “I’m Burning Up” and “Oh Father”) is more a testament to Madonna’s amazing commercial success in the ’80s than any deficiency on this collection; the only two songs on the collection that didn’t make the Top 10 were “Holiday” and “Into The Groove,” and Madonna couldn’t very well leave those great tracks off the set.

Where to get the track(s):

    Madonna issued an Immaculate Collection “companion” EP entitled Holiday Collection that includes “True Blue,” “Who’s That Girl” and “Causin’ A Commotion” (a #2 hit from the Who’s That Girl soundtrack.) You can also find “True Blue” on True Blue, while “Angel” and “Dress You Up” are available on Like A Virgin. You can find “I’m Burning Up” on Madonna and “Oh Father” (along with fellow omission “Keep It Together”) on Like A Prayer.

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Artist: George Michael
Collection: Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael (1998)
Omission: “I Want Your Sex”

    Most of the time, when artists leave their greatest hits off their Greatest Hits, the “middle” songs, chronologically, are the first to go. It is truly rare for an artist to leave out his first solo hit*, especially one that spent two weeks at #2 on the pop chart despite a boycott from a handful of conservative radio stations. But on Ladies & Gentlemen, George Michael has omitted the original “I Want Your Sex” that we all remember, in favor of the less-direct “I Want Your Sex (Part II),” the Faith album track that most of us fast-forwarded through on our tape decks. Why the omission? It’s not as though Michael has had some sort of post-Faith religious epiphany and is now ashamed of his, earlier, “naughtier” work; indeed, disc two of Ladies & Gentlemen starts off with “Outside,” his none-too-subtle ode to lookin’ for love in all the wrong places. Maybe he just doesn’t want to hurt sales of the Beverly Hills Cop II soundtrack.

    *You could argue that, technically, “Careless Whisper” or “A Different Corner” (both included on Ladies & Gentlemen) were solo hits before “I Want Your Sex,” despite the fact that they were released on Wham! albums. Just don’t try to argue that his Aretha Franklin duet, “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” (also included), is a “solo” song.

Where to get the track(s):

Faith; Beverly Hills Cop II soundtrack

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Artist: Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
Collection: Greatest Hits (1993)
Omission: “Jammin’ Me”

        Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “Jammin’ Me” made its mark in history as the only Bob Dylan-penned song in history to directly diss Joe Piscopo. (Or if not the only, certainly one of the first.) The song, a #18 hit from 1987’s Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough), asks the world to “take back” everything and everyone from Vanessa Redgrave and Eddie Murphy to Iranian torture and El Salvador, and is one of a number of great Petty tunes left out of the 1993 Greatest Hits CD.

    Also missing is “Woman In Love (It’s Not Me)” and the #3 Stevie Nicks duet “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” (both from 1981), 1983’s “Change of Heart,” and “Love Is A Long Road,” a great Petty solo album track from 1989.

Where to get the track(s):

    “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” is available on the Stevie Nicks albums Bella Donna and Timespace: The Best of Stevie Nicks. “Jammin’ Me” is available on Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough), “Woman In Love (It’s Not Me)” is available on Hard Promises; “Change of Heart” is on 1983’s Long After Dark, and “Love Is A Long Road” appears on Full Moon Fever. All four are included on both 1995’s 6-CD boxed set Playback, and 2000’s 2-CD set Anthology - Through the Years. Anthology also includes “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.”

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Artist: Prince
Collection: The Hits/The B-Sides (1993)
Omission: “Batdance”

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sp;   It’s always baffling when a song that hit #1 on the pop charts fails to make the cut for a “Greatest Hits” collection. But that’s just what happened to “Batdance,” Prince’s chart-topping single from 1989’s Batman soundtrack. Perhaps because the song was as much movie promo as work of art  featuring dialogue clips from Michael Keaton, Kim Basinger and Jack Nicholson (“This town needs an enema”) mixed with Prince’s funky guitar work  the Purple One decided to leave it off his three-CD The Hits/The B-Sides set. What’s worse, the four-minute version that hit the top of the charts is no longer even available on any other CD (the Batman soundtrack contains a six-minute mix). Other notable omissions from The Hits include 1986’s “Mountains” (#23 on the pop charts) and the full-length “When Doves Cry” (an unforgivable “single-edit” of the song appears instead, fading out right as the guitar solo begins.)

Where to get the track(s):

    For “Mountains” and the full-length “When Doves Cry,” you’ll need to get the soundtrack albums they first appeared on: Parade/Under The Cherry Moon and Purple Rain, respectively. For “Batdance,” you’re probably out of luck unless you can find a used CD single from 1989.

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Artist: Soft Cell
Collection: Soft Cell/Marc Almond - Memorabilia: The Singles (1991)
Omission: “Tainted Love”

    Say what you will about Men Without Hats, but at least they (or their label) had the sense to put both versions of “The Safety Dance” on their greatest hits CD. No such luck with Soft Cell’s 1991 “singles” package. Not only does Memorabilia: The Singles not have the “Tainted Love/Where Did Our Love Go” medley, it doesn’t even have the original “Tainted Love” at all.

    Yep, you read that right, Soft Cell’s greatest hits CD doesn’t have “Tainted Love” on it. Really. It does have two new (1991) versions of the song, but not the original ’80s version everybody knows.

Where to get the track(s):

    While there are several other Soft Cell anthologies available, depending on the version you’re looking for (and how interested you are in other Soft Cell songs), you might be better off picking up one of the many ’80s compilations that “Tainted Love” appears on. Priority Records’ Rock of the 80’s Volume 2 and UTV Records’ Pure 80s both have the two-and-a-half-minute radio edit, while the nine-minute extended version of the “Tainted Love/Where Did Our Love Go” medley is available on Richard Blade’s Flashback Favorites Volume 3.

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Artist: Bruce Springsteen
Collection: Greatest Hits (1995)
Omission: “Cover Me”

    When Bruce Springsteen returned to the singles charts in 1984 with “Dancing In The Dark,” he produced a string of ten Top 10 hits unbroken until 1988. Of those ten hits (seven of which were from his Born in the U.S.A. album), only five made it onto his Greatest Hits CD. Among the casualties: “Cover Me,” a #7 hit from Born in the U.S.A. (the title track only made it to #9). “Cover Me” was the only single from that album written in a minor key, which gave it a unique musical edge that would have been missed on Born in the U.S.A., and is missed on Greatest Hits. Also missing are “I’m On Fire,” “I’m Goin’ Down,” b-side “Pink Cadillac,” and 1987’s “Tunnel Of Love,” arguably the best single of Bruce’s late-80s career. (Greatest Hits does include another great minor-key cut: the long unavailable “Murder Incorporated.”)

Where to get the track(s):

Born in The U.S.A.

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Artist: Van Halen
Collection: Best Of - Volume I (1996)
Omission: “I’ll Wait”

    Van Halen has had some great songs over the years: “You Really Got Me,” “Hot For Teacher,” “Black And Blue,” “Love Walks In.” Unfortunately, none of those songs are on their greatest hits package (Best Of - Volume I.) Neither is “Finish What Ya Started” or “Best Of Both Worlds.” Or any song at all from from 1982’s Diver Down album (you remember: the one with “(Oh) Pretty Woman” and “Dancing In The Streets.”)

    The sheer breadth and scope of the omissions on this collection is astounding. The worst offense, though, is “I’ll Wait,” the #13 follow-up to “Jump” from 1984. This is a song that was a great rocker (featuring wailing guitar and keyboard solos from Eddie Van Halen) as well as one of their biggest pop hits. Were they worried no one would buy 1984 if they included “I’ll Wait” on their hits CD? Why? Fans will still need to buy it if they want “Hot For Teacher.”

    The liner notes do helpfully provide a complete album discography, listing the tracks from each album, so the listener can read along and frequently exclaim with frustration at how many great songs Best Of leaves out (including, also, “Jamie’s Cryin’” and “Top of the World.”) Of course, you can always look at it this way: at least they saved a lot of great songs for Volume II.

Where to get the track(s):

    For the David Lee Roth tracks, you can find “I’ll Wait” and “Hot For Teacher” on 1984; “Jamie’s Cryin’” and “You Really Got Me” on Van Halen; “(Oh) Pretty Woman” and “Dancing In The Streets” on Diver Down.

    For the Sammy Hagar tracks, you can find “Love Walks In” and “Best Of Both Worlds” on 5150; “Black And Blue” and “Finish What Ya Started” on OU812; and “Top of the World” on For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.

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Artist: Yes
Collection: YesYears (1991)
Omission: “Leave It”

    In 1981, Yes released Classics, a best-of compilation that committed the cardinal sin of greatest-hits sets: it replaced the band’s two most popular songs, “Roundabout” and “I’ve Seen All Good People,” with live versions. Not even single edits, mind you, but live versions, of their only two songs to make the Top 40. Ten years later, having accumulated four more Top 40 hits, the band released a four-CD boxed set, titled YesYears, that covered the band’s work from their late ’60s beginnings through 1990. Surely, on a four-disc set, some five hours in length, they could somehow manage to squeeze in all six of their Top 40 hits, right? Nope. “Leave It,” the infectious four-minute pop masterpiece from 90125, was nowhere to be found. Not the original version, not the synth-ier single edit, not the hard-to-find, dance-club-friendly “Hello/Goodbye” mix, not even the a cappella version.

Leave It

    It was truly a bizarre omission. This was a classic ’80s tune, and one of their biggest hits of the decade, second only to “Owner Of A Lonely Heart.” (At least they weren’t brazen enough to leave that off the set.) The next year, they released a condensed two-CD greatest hits package, YesStory, which repeated the sin, and compounded it by leaving out both “Leave It” and “Love Will Find a Way.” A year after that, they boiled it down to a single CD, The Very Best Of Yes, which restored “Leave It” but not “Love Will Find A Way.” Now, in 2002, they have finally released a greatest hits package that collects all six of their biggest hits... on a five-CD boxed set.

Where to get the track(s):

    “Leave It:” 90125, The Very Best Of Yes, In A Word (5-CD set)

    “Love Will Find A Way:” Big Generator, YesYears (4-CD set), In A Word (5-CD set)

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Artist: ZZ Top
Collection: Greatest Hits (1992)
Omission: “Velcro Fly”

    ZZ Top’s 1992 Greatest Hits CD mixes tracks from their earlier Best of ZZ Top collection with some (but not all) of their hits from the ’80s. Of the band’s four Top 40 hits from the 1985 Afterburner album, only two (“Sleeping Bag” and “Rough Boy”) made the cut; “Stages” and “Velcro Fly,” their most memorable track from that album, aren’t included. Most of 1983’s Eliminator album is well-represented, but the original Legs is replaced with a remixed version, and 1979’s “I Thank You” is nowhere to be found.

Where to get the track(s):

    The original “Legs” is available on Eliminator; “I Thank You” is available on Deguello, and Afterburner contains “Stages” and “Velcro Fly.”

CDs from Amazon.com

Huey Lewis - Sports
Huey Lewis & The News
Sports - Expanded Edition

with 5 extra tracks

Dire Straits - Brothers In Arms
Dire Straits
Brothers In Arms


Duran Duran
Greatest


Ray Parker Jr
Greatest Hits

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