Greatest "Greatest Hits" Albums - The 1985 Edition - UPDATED

I've featured Greatest "Greatest Hits" albums here on The Hideaway before but while perusing the Audio Archives, I noticed many of my favorite greatest hits compilations were released in 1985.  (I may have even purchased a few of them.)  So here's a quick rundown of quite literally the best of 1985's best ofs, my Greatest "Greatest Hits" Albums picks for 1985, listed in artist alpha order for your reading enjoyment and listening pleasure.

A supergroup composed of members from Free, King Crimson and Mott The Hoople and signed to Led Zeppelin's vanity label, Swan Song, Bad Company ruled the mid-Seventies behind the powerful vocals of Paul Rodgers.  From 1974 until they disbanded in 1982, the group released six albums which accounts for the number 6 in this album's title though it only includes tracks taken from the band's first five albums.  But are these the Greatest Hits?  From 1974 through 1982, Rodgers and Company landed exactly ten singles on the Billboard Hot 100.  While there are ten tracks on the album (which is how the number 10 made its way into the title), the following five charted singles are not included:
They were replaced by classic rock radio favorites "Run With The Pack", "Shooting Star", "Bad Company", "Ready For Love" and "Live For The Music".  This double-platinum certified seller was followed by a two disc, thirty-three track collection titled The Original Bad Company Anthology in 1999.  Though the group reunited without Rodgers in the mid Eighties and scored a few hit singles, the 1999 collection only includes tracks from the Paul Rodgers Years.  Hence, the Original in the title.

Though my seventh ever post here on The Hideaway back in April 2012 was titled A Pirate Looks At Fifty, paraphrasing a Jimmy Buffet song title, I am not a Parrothead, which is how die hard Buffett fans refer to themselves.  The first song I heard from the guy was the earnest and pretty "Come Monday", a Top 30 hit from 1974, which has all the hallmarks of the trademark Jimmy Buffett sound: vaguely country with vaguely island flavor and flourishes.  His sense of humor emerged later with the huge lifestyle anthem "Margartitaville" and "Cheeseburger In Paradise".  This was the first Jimmy Buffett album I bought and I have purchased a few more since.  Still not a Parrothead.  But are these the Greatest Hits?  By 1985, Buffett had notched eleven charting singles on the Hot 100, nine on the country chart and ten on the adult contemporary chart.  Songs You Know By Heart features thirteen songs from 1973-1979 but omits these Hot 100 hits:
This album has been certified seven times platinum yet devoted Parrotheads (and me) still bought Buffet's four disc box set Boats, Beachs, Bars & Ballads when it came out in 1992, lifting it to quadruple platinum status. (Each disc counts in multi-disc sets towards sales certification.)  One has to wonder if the same die-hard Parrotheads (and me again) bought 2003's Meet Me In Margaritaville: The Ultimate Collection, a double disc hits set that - you guessed it - has been certified double-platinum.
The Cars brilliant fusion of rock and new wave made them instant favorites of mine with their debut single (which kicks off this collection) and their self-titled debut album in 1978 while the band's two appearances on Fridays (originally aired on September 19, 1980 and January 8, 1982) remain favorites of mine.  The band manged to get five albums out before this hits package was released in a lull that saw both vocalists Ric Ocasek and Benjamin Orr release solo albums before rejoining their bandmates to record and release their final album with all five members in 1987.  But are these the Greatest Hits?  When this album came out, the Cars had thirteen Hot 100 singles and ten singles on the rock chart, which debuted in 1981.  One new song, "Tonight She Comes", was included on Greatest Hits and it made it to number seven on the pop chart and topped the rock chart. There are twelve older songs on the album but the following charted hits are absent:
While The Cars Greatest Hits sold more than six million copies on vinyl, cassette and compact disc, a decade after its release came Just What I Needed: The Cars Anthology, a double disc Rhino compilation complete with previously unreleased rarities and extensive liner notes along with all the hits.  That compilation was followed in 2002 by The Cars Complete Greatest Hits, a twenty track chronologically ordered single disc collection that includes the three songs listed above as well as four others that failed to make the first Greatest Hits album.
My copy of this album on vinyl has sixteen tracks but others had seventeen songs while the CD had nineteen tracks.  I eventually got the CD but for a few years the sixteen track album was a huge favorite, getting many spins.  Unlike my usual modus operandi, I don't ever recall dubbing this album to cassette though several songs were mixtape favorites.  By the time I bought this album in 1986, I had four other Costello albums: his seminal Seventies triptych of My Aim Is True, This Year's Model and Armed Forces as well as 1983's Punch The Clock.  But are these the Greatest Hits?  By 1985, Elvis and his cohorts had only scored a pair of Hot 100 singles, a pair of Bubbling Under The Hot 100 singles and three singles on the rock chart here in the States.  In his native UK, The Man had 23 charted singles.  Over there, this album is titled The Man: The Best Of Elvis Costello and has eighteen songs with a slightly different tracklisting.  It peaked at number eight on the British charts while it's American counterpart failed to crack the top half of the Top 200.  To answer the question, all but one of the US singles is included on The Best Of Elvis Costello and the Attractions:
Despite the lack of singles chart success and its lowly peak on the album charts, The Best Of Elvis Costello and the Attractions still manged to go platinum in America.  It was Costello's second US compilation, after 1980's non-hits rarities round-up, Taking Liberties aka Ten Bloody Marys & Ten How's Your Fathers in the UK.  Many compilations of Costello's work followed but my favorites are the double disc Girls Girls Girls (1989), which Costello himself selected, sequenced and wrote extensive liner notes for, and 2007's single disc comp featuring a tracklist also selected by The Man himself, The Best of Elvis Costello: The First Ten Years, which as you might have surmised is my favorite period in his lengthy and ongoing discography.
Thanks to my buddy Mike in drafting class dubbing me cassette copies and our teacher Mr. Rusk allowing us to listen to our Walkmans (Walkmen?) while we drew, I was familiar with Depeche Mode's first three albums before Graduation in 1984.  I kept up with the band's releases, adding their first US compilation People Are People and their fourth studio album, Some Great Reward, to my vinyl library shortly thereafter.  My roommate Doug was the first to bring Catching Up With Depeche Mode, a sampler of their first four studio albums, home.  It was the band's second compilation here in the States within eighteen months and though esteemed critic Robert Christgau called it a "half-assed" and referred to the songs as "tuneful technotopia and death-fluff", he gave the album a B+.  Are these the Greatest Hits?  By 1985, the Mode had seven singles on the Dance chart and two on the Hot 100 here in America.  Back in the UK, the had a dozen consecutive hit singles including five Top 10s.  A month prior to the November release of Catching Up..., the band had released The Singles 81»85, a single disc chronological singles compilation featuring eleven previous hits and two new songs, both of which cracked the Top 20 over there.  Three US singles from the dance chart are not included on Catching Up... because they are on the earlier People Are People:
The Eighties compilations deserve credit for paving the way for Depeche Mode to finally breakthrough in America in the Nineties and beyond with seven consecutive Top 10 albums and four Number One songs on the modern rock chart. Compilations like the double disc The Singles 86»98 (1998) and single disc The Best Of Depeche Mode, Volume 1 (2006) followed.
I became a fan of the Gap Band after hearing their "You Dropped A Bomb On Me" being played on a R&B station out of Houston in my Texas Grandpa's GMC truck while he and I stood in the middle of a cow pasture on a ranch near Washington-On-The-Brazos trying to repair a barbed wire fence we had inadvertently snapped while tightening it in July 1982.  After that Summer, I bought Gap Band IV, went back and got Gap Band III and then welcomed Gap Band V: Jammin' when it was released in 1983.  I skipped buying subsequent Gap Band titles until I saw this on the shelf one day.  Though I already had eight of the ten songs, I still bought it.  Are these the Greatest Hits?  By the time Gap Gold came out in March 1985, the Wilson Brothers had logged five Hot 100 singles and eighteen singles on the R&B chart.  All five crossover singles are present and accounted for on Gap Gold.  In 1986, I picked up The 12" Collection and then The Best Of The Gap Band (1995) and 12" Collection & More (1999).   The latter two albums are part of the wonderful Funk Essentials series.  Never did get any other Gap Band albums.

When it comes down to the music of the J. Geils Band, my personal tastes seem to run perpindicular to most peoples.  I came late to the house party, jumping in on the Love Stinks album in 1980.  Freeze Frame was one of my most listened to albums in 1981 but the following year's live Showtime! album and it's single "I Do" left me cold.  I rebounded with Peter Wolf's Lights Out album in 1984 and the band's last studio album, You're Gettin' Even While I'm Gettin' Odd, in 1985.  I bought Flashback: The Best Of The J. Geils Band strictly for the single edit of "Come Back" which I could never find on 45.  Are these the Greatest Hits?  From 1971 up through 1984, J. Geils Band gave us seventeen Hot 100 singles and five on the rock chart.  The oldest songs on Flashback are from 1978's Sanctuary album so for our purposes we'll only count the singles released between 1978 and 1984.  That leaves us with eleven singles on the Hot 100 and all five singles on the rock charts.  A few are missing from this album:
After recording eight albums for Atlantic Records in the Seventies, the band signed with EMI in 1978.  In 1979, Atlantic issued Best of The J. Geils Band, recounting their hits from 1971-1977.  Flashback: The Best Of The J. Geils Band covered their time on EMI from 1978-1984.  1992's double disc Houseparty: The J. Geils Band Anthology, spanning their entire career, was an instant purchase and a catalyst for me purchasing their entire back catalog, especially their two earlier live albums.  I also picked up their career-spanning single disc Best of The J. Geils Band in 2009 and I anxiously await a digital version of that ignored and much maligned 1985 album I mentioned above.
Greatest Hits Volume I & Volume II by Billy Joel is one of the Greatest Greatest Hits Albums of All Time as evidenced by its 23 times platinum designation in the US, tying it for third place behind Thriller and the album listed at number one below.  As far as actual copies sold, it currently ranks as the eighth best selling hits compilation, according to the RIAA, behind:
  1. Eagles - Their Greatest Hits [1971-1975] (1976)
  2. Elton John - Greatest Hits (1974)
  3. Simon & Garfunkel - Greatest Hits (1972)
  4. Bob Marley - Legend (1984)
  5. Beatles - 1 (2000)
  6. Kenny Rogers - Greatest Hits (1980)
  7. Journey - Greatest Hits (1988)
It's worth noting that Joel's collection is the only double album of the bunch and one of the few presenting the hits in mostly chronological order.  Are these the Greatest Hits?  When this album was released in July 1985, the Piano Man had placed twenty-six singles on the Hot 100 including six Top 10s and a pair of Number Ones.  Over on the adult contemporary chart, Joel posted twenty singles including six chart toppers.  He even had seven singles make the rock chart.  This album has twenty-five tracks including two new songs which were released as singles and made the Top 40.  These are the Hot 100 singles from 1973-1985 not on this album:
* Most of the first pressings of the album (both vinyl and CD) feature "Honesty" but not "Don't Ask Me Why".  All later pressings include "Don't Ask Me Why" but not "Honesty".

Three album cuts appear in lieu of the songs listed above: from The Stranger, "The Stranger" and "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant"; and "New York State Of Mind" from Turnstiles.  In addition, first pressings of Greatest Hits... had the charted live version (#17 in 1981) of "Say Goodbye To Hollywood" while later pressings replaced it with the original 1976 studio version   Also, five songs appear in edited-for-time permutations on first pressings though they were later restored to their full length in later pressings.  Greatest Hits Volume III followed in 1997 and included "Keeping The Faith" from the list above.  The Essential 3.0 came along in 2008, featuring forty-three songs spread across three discs but my favorite Billy Joel hits compilation is the concise and chronological 2010 single disc simply titled The Hits.

The main reason for this seems to be a record label cash grab as Manilow had left his long time label Arista and signed a contract with RCA for four albums.  Then the man that signed him left company, the first album (Manilow, 1985) did poorly, the second even worse (soundtrack album from TV movie based on his song "Copacabana") and the final two albums of the short-lived deal were hits compilations for Latin markets (Spain and Brazil).  By 1986, he was back with Clive Davis and Arista.  I have this album on vinyl and always thought it was a K-Tel release until I opened it and saw the Arista label.  Are these the Greatest Hits?  From 1971 until 1985, Manilow had twenty-six singles on the Hot 100 and thirty on the adult contemporary chart, including a whopping thirteen Number Ones.  With "only" twenty tracks, obviously some pop singles were left off:
Before the gold selling Manilow Collection there was Greatest Hits in 1978, a nineteen song double album, and Greatest Hits Volume II in 1983.  In 1989, all new collections titled Greatest Hits Volumes I, II and III were released followed by the four disc box set The Complete Collection And Then Some in 1992.  The definitive Ultimate Manilow set the gold standard a decade later but I also picked up Essential 3.0 in 2010 featuring 42 tracks across three discs at a helluva nice price.  (Seriously, why couldn't they have put out these Essential 3.0 collections back in 1985, at the dawn of the CD do-over.  I have five or six of them now and am always looking for others.)
Close friends, heads of state and family as well as other devoted Hideaway viewers, know that Long Distance Voyager, the 1981 album by The Moody Blues, is my jam.  I even had a girlfriend refer to my eyes as "the moody blues".  But I digress.  The band had been around twenty-one years by 1985 but only one hits compilation, the double disc This Is The Moody Blues, had been released here in the States.  I have and love that album but it gives no indication how the band would reconvene after a couple of self-imposed exiles to create the masterpiece that is Long Distance Voyager. Though they would go on to release three more albums in the Eighties, I cared not a whit.  The only reason those three albums are even in my collection is because my wife loves them almost as much as she loves the music of the Alan Parsons Project, which is kinda what they sound like to me: a bad Alan Parsons Project.  Are these the Greatest Hits?  Looks like The Moody Blues sent eighteen singles onto the Hot 100 in their first three decades of existence.  Given that Voices In The Sky has but ten tracks, these are those unheard voices:
The twelve song UK version of Voices In The Sky was released in late 1984 and features some of the songs above but omits others that appear on the US version that came out in June 1985.  The album is a disjointed listen and doesn't give proper perspective to the band's work.  And to be truthful, though they have had some wonderful singles, The Moody Blues are more of an album band, best enjoyed in a single forty minute session.  A Greatest Hits album came out in 1989 but it featured more of their latter day, post-Long Distance Voyager work at the expense of their classic Sixties and Seventies output so I bought it but quickly passed it on to someone else like placing a problem pet with new owners.  Sadly, the exact same album was released the following year under a different title and bearing different artwork.  I first came across 1997's The Very Best of The Moody Blues while flipping through the discs at the public library.  Took it home, made a copy and soon found a used copy at one of the new, used CD shops that started popping up around that time.  The next year, I again came across a disc at the library, this time it as the double album The Moody Blues Anthology, a chronologically ordered, thirty three track set.  I still have the music CD-R copies I made of those discs as I never got around to buy the set myself. There have been many many other Moody Blues compilations since but I've stood my ground.
My allegiance to the studio precision of Steely Dan's music came out of nowhere - they were one of the few bands my father never showed any interest in yet whenever I heard one of their tracks on the radio, it called to me.  Still my first SD album was 1982's Gold followed mere month later by the double album Greatest Hits from 1978.  One of my major record club coups was picking up the Citizen Steely Dan  1972-1980 boxed set for $10.  Have since picked up most of the original albums in best quality mastering (post 1998) because the music therein is so worth it.  Also scored Gold (Expanded Edition) with "4 additional recordings" cause I am a sucker for those sorts of things.  Unless I miss my guess, A Decade Of Steely Dan was one of the first CD only compilations that began appearing in 1985 like The CD of JB below among the Honorable Mentions.  Are these the Greatest Hits?  Becker and Fagen were no strangers to the charts, pegging fifteen Hot 100 singles and seven adult contemporary singles. These five charted singles didn't make the cut for A Decade...:
All of the songs above (except the one from 1981) had appeared on Greatest Hits and none of them were on Gold nor Gold (Expanded Edition) not even among the latter album's 4 additional recordings.  The peerless Steely Dan is one of those artists whose compilations outnumber their studio albums and that's fine.  I got mine and I'd do it again.

Honorable Mentions:
Share your favorite Greatest Hits compilations in the Comments below.


  1. I picked up many of these when I was first building my CD collection in 1990 (the year I got my first CD player). Greatest Hits albums were the perfect way to build a library fast of some of the best songs from these artists.

  2. You are right on point about buying compilations to build a CD library. For me, there was always one or two songs missing from those discs but I worked with what they gave me. It seems stupid now but on those rare occasions when we dubbed discs to tape, I'd take the opportunity to sneak in my picks and rearrange the tracklisting. But once recordable CD came to town, it was game over. My hits, my way, all of the time. Then the challenge became to find those one or two songs on disc rather than vinyl.

    My first CD player was a gift from my closest friends at Christmas 1986. By that time I had already accumulated some 20-25 discs mostly as gifts because everyone thought I already had a CD player already because I was THAT guy. My friend Steve got a Fisher CD player in 1985, paid way too much for it (it was first model the base exchange ever carried) but it worked so I would go over to his house and listen to my collection. Even recorded the beautiful prisitne digital sound to cassette on occasion.

    Bruce Springsteen's Live 1975-1985 box is most often the one I say when asked what my first CD was but I think I got Led Zeppelin's fourth album a few weeks before that one.