“I do remember my first purchase: the Partridge Family's 'Greatest Hits.' I got it for $3.99 at a failed chain of pre-Wal-Mart-type stores called Jamesway. God, I'm old”. ..........Trent Reznor
Fun fact – the original concept of albums developed from compilations! In the early 20th century, individual 78 rpm records were compiled in a bound book like a photograph album, and this format eventually evolved into the single vinyl, 331⁄3 rpm, LP ‘albums’ we all know and love.
Sadly, after many years of cheesy major label cash ins, compilations have acquired a bad name among ‘serious’ music collectors. For example, the EMI compilation series ‘Now That’s What I Call Music’, now approaching it’s 40 th anniversary, simply compiles the label’s biggest hits. Its currently up to Vol. 112, with most volumes going double or triple platinum. However, the ‘Triple J Hottest 100’series, approaching it’s 30 th anniversary, does carry a bit more credibility, as its compiled from the top 100 songs of the year as voted on by Triple J listeners.
So it's easy to overlook just how influential well curated compilation albums can be. Not including artist compilations, like the seemingly infinite number of Beatles’ collections available, the range of Various Artists compilations span a wide range, including label compilations, DJ mixes and curated genre and era collections.
Any list of highly influential compilations would have to include Harry Smith’s 1952 ‘Anthology of American Folk Music’, a curated collection of rare 78rpm recordings of American roots music that pretty much triggered the 1960’s folk revival, with its re-release in 1997 again influencing a whole new generation of ‘freak-folk’ artists. And a major influence on punk bands was Lenny Kaye’s ‘Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era’, which compiled psychedelic and garage rock singles from the 1960s. While closer to home, Ripper Records‘AK ‘79’ has had an enduring influence on NZ punk.
Influential label compilations include Flying Nun’s very own ‘Tuatara’,Kompakt’s ongoing ‘Pop Ambient’ series, Warp Records’‘Artificial Intelligence’, while no ‘80’s collection would be complete without a copy of Cherry Red’s 1982 release ‘Pillows and Prayers’.Cherry Red have also re-released ‘C81’ and ‘C86’, the highly influential NME cassette releases from the ‘80’s.
And, of course, the new millenium saw the rise of DJ mixes, with !K7 Records’‘DJ Kicks’ series currently up to release number 77, Azuli’s ‘Late Night Tales’ up to Vol. 50, and the ‘Fabric’ series winding up in 2018 with its 100 th release.
Yes, it can be pretty overwhelming, however, here at Flying Nun we do our best to sort through our media saturated environment to stock what we consider to be the pick of the compilations available on vinyl.