Review Summary: Someone’s getting the best, the best, the best, the best of Foo.
Was anybody really that surprised when it was announced that the Foo Fighters would be releasing a greatest hits package? If anything, the only surprise has been the fact it’s taken so damn long to happen.
Over a span of six records, you’d be foolish not to give the band credit where credit is due. After all, it’s not every day that the band that stemmed from a bored drummer wanting to try and make some music after the singer in his band dies evolves into one of the biggest entities in modern rock music.
What’s great about the band especially is that even people who don’t register themselves as fans can happily admit to enjoying at least a couple of the band’s singles. It’s not as if there’s slim pickings, either. Essentially, if you’ve turned on a radio in the past decade, there’s a good chance you’ve heard a few of the band’s songs. Each single carries that sturdy rock edge, driven by big guitar and an even bigger chorus – sure, you might not be crazy about them, but it’s a little hard to not at least like them.
It’s for this reason the Foo Fighters’ Greatest Hits
is more than just a stocking filler for this holiday season. It is a landmark of a band nearly fifteen years into their career, and a near-perfect arrangement of the songs we’ve grown to love over the years. The older stuff holds up well – “Big Me”, from the self-titled record, still has dollops sweetness and understated charm, whilst “This is a Call” maintains that out of nowhere sucker-punch when the guitar tone switches into overdrive and the drums charge through your speakers. And if we’re talking Foo singles from this era, who could even try to forget “Everlong”, regarded by many as Grohl’s post-Cobain piece de resistance
. In a flurry of Taylor Hawkins’ high-speed drums, matched up with dual guitar crunch and Grohl’s vocals nailing both restrained melody and unleashed screech-singing, the band nailed their collective sound in a four-minute montage of everything that has contributed to the band’s longevity. Hell, put it this way - the song’s so good, it’s on here twice (the acoustic version closes most versions of the release).
One could easily accuse the band of weakening and declining in overall quality following the release of The Colour and the Shape
. Singles featured here, however, such as “The Pretender”, “All My Life”, “Learn to Fly” and “Best of You”, are more than willing to contradict this mindset. It’s these tracks that perhaps best represent their respective albums – admittedly, something a single probably shouldn’t be doing; but the songs themselves are so well-structured and enjoyable it’s easy to ignore. “The Pretender”, the opener from 2007’s Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace
rollicks along consistently on an edgy groove before roaring through that unmistakably excitable, anthemic shout-along of a chorus. In Your Honor
’s “Best of You” brings the tempo down slightly, but keeps the energy levels at a high – especially following the second chorus, with the introduction of Chris Shiflett’s buzzsaw guitar break that scales the heights of the instrumental section at an impressively quick rate. Yes, at this point in their career, the Foos could have released pretty much anything and they’d still be packing stadiums. The fact there was still quality material to be found, nonetheless, is impressive and a merit to the band themselves.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Greatest Hits
CD without at least one or two new tracks. The problem with this, however, is that most bands know this; and therefore put significantly less effort into them. Indeed, lethargic songwriting is what hinders the twangy “Wheels” and the jarring, uneven “Word Forward” (which can’t decide which kind of Foo Fighters song it wants to be) – there’s no spark or engaging accessibility here. The former features some lovely harmonies from Hawkins and Shiflett in a call and response with Grohl’s rambling chorus lines, but has little else to offer. The latter, meanwhile, drags from the get-go; burdened with cheesy acoustic guitar, a lame-duck chord progression and ill-fitting scowls of “they’re just ***ing words!” that completely belie the dorky “Farewell, Jimmy/Goodbye, youth” that commences the song.
Additionally, it wouldn’t be a Greatest Hits
CD from a major label created sans the band’s blessing without some glaring omissions. So “Skin and Bones” was a hit, yet the Orange County
soundtrack single “The One” was not? Furthermore, of the five singles released from There is Nothing Left to Lose
(including the fantastic “Generator” and “Next Year”), only two are deemed worthy of inclusion? Granted, there’s only so much time we’ve got for the band, but the selections present only just get the green light – a few tweaks and we could have gotten a lot more value for money.
Sure, the “Greatest” is a little questionable at times (the new tracks, the slightly cheesy “Long Road to Ruin” et al.). Don’t try questioning the “Hits” element, though. The bulk of what we have here is certified rock radio gold. Foo Fighters’ Greatest Hits
works for all kinds of fans – the diehards can complete their collection and have all the band’s great videos with the bonus DVD; and the passing fan can see the release as a mixtape for people who aren’t willing to wade through entire albums. The system works. Thanks, Dave.