Review Summary: One Eighty
There are certain bands that you just don't expect to release a Greatest Hits album. For some bands, a greatest hits compilation would break up the smooth flow of their records, a flow that they work extra-hard on producing. Other bands don't release Greatest Hits simply because they are against the concept of rounding up their most popular tracks and putting them all out on one album. Sometimes, if a band only has a few albums, a Greatest Hits record would be unnecessary when one could just buy all of their studio efforts.
I don't think it would be that far-fetched if I said that I was not expecting A Perfect Circle to release a greatest hits album.
First of all, Maynard is pretty open about his views on greatest hits compilations; he doesn't release any Tool material on iTunes because he wants people to listen to the albums from front to back and not as individual songs. He did allow APC albums to be sold, though, most likely due to Billy Howerdel and James Iha's influence. With that in mind, maybe it's not so crazy that one man's opinion was vetoed out by the rest of the band. Still, there's a certain flow to albums like Mer de Noms
that just get interrupted when tracks that originally transition nicely into each other are haphazardly misplaced on the track listing. That one section of Mer de Noms
from "Judith" all the way from "Sleeping Beauty" is full of flawless transition from brash to calm, creating a perfect flow of balanced emotion. Other bands, like Radiohead, proved that releasing these compilations can completely annihilate what made their individual albums so good in the first place.
However, for a greatest hits collection, Three Sixty
is more than generous with its song selection, offering thirteen tracks (nineteen if you purchase the deluxe edition) of APC’s best singles. It’s pretty diverse with its track listing, with four from each one of their albums plus the new single “By and Down”. The Mer de Noms
portion of the album opens up with “The Hollow”, just like it did on the band’s 2000 debut. The aforementioned “Judith”-“Sleeping Beauty” section is surprisingly left intact, albeit without the latter track, and it still flows nicely together. From Maynard’s angry, fuming attack on his mother on the former to the calming, heartfelt “3 Libras”, Three Sixty
does a good job of showcasing Mer de Noms
’ most popular songs.
, often regarded as A Perfect Circle’s best effort, is represented with some of the band’s most well-known tracks; Chart-topper “Weak and Powerless” and top five follow up "The Outsider" show the catharsis of Maynard's inner demons, whether it be drug abuse or suicidal thoughts. The songs sound great on Three Sixty
(just as good as they do on the radio), but to fully immerse yourself in the greatness of tracks like "Blue" or "The Noose", you have to listen to Thirteenth Step
, front and back in order to truly experience how excellent the songs are. Having "The Outsider" bombard itself between those two aforementioned tracks completely obliterates their buildup and transition. All four songs are absolutely great, but their disjointed placement and flow detracts from their quality.
Following some of the group's best singles is the extremely weak and disastrous eMOTIVe
section, composed of nothing but dark covers of political songs. Equally represented with two covers and two "original" tracks, these four singles are easily the worst part of Three Sixty
. Turning "Imagine" from an optimistic, cry for peace into a brooding, 'all-hope-is-gone' downer may seem like a good idea on paper, but it's just executed so poorly, and the same thing goes for their take on Led Zeppelin's "When The Levee Breaks". There is one light at the end of the tunnel; "Passive", which has got to be one of the best songs A Perfect Circle have ever performed. The previously unreleased track by Maynard and Trent Reznor's project Tapeworm is a sure highlight of the whole compilation: the aggressive lyrical content delivered in a semi-truculent manner surely shines amongst all of the group’s masterpieces.
It’s hard to deny the quality of Three Sixty
’s songs; all but two of them are excellent, and considering the band’s short lifespan, thirteen tracks is pretty abundant. However, the main problem that plagues the idea of an A Perfect Circle greatest hits collection is that it is completely unnecessary. Who actually needs this album? For longtime fans of the band, there’s no new material save for the lone new track, “By and Down”, which is far from their best work. It drags on for far too long, overstaying its welcome, and doesn’t really build up until midway through its five and a half minute runtime. Buying Three Sixty
for the sole purpose of owning "By and Down" really isn't a good idea in the age of mp3s and file-sharing. And if you're just starting to get into A Perfect Circle, then buying their albums separately would be a much better option. They only have two (not counting the horrendous and completely unnecessary listen eMOTIVe
), plus the flow and transitioning of the songs are much better than they are on Three Sixty
. There's no doubting how great these songs are, but in the end, this probably isn't the best method to listen to APC tracks.