“Reissue/repackage…re-evaluate the songs…double pack with a photograph…with a tacky badge.”
These immortal words by Morrissey on “Paint a Vulgar Picture” from The Smiths’ last opus Strangeways, Here We Come have been an omen to the band and lead singer himself. Guilty of the crimes he had been seething about so eloquently in that infamous song. Morrissey, himself, is set to release yet another solo hits collection, his sixth compilation since the demise of his former group. The question I have to ask is why? Why is this necessary to subject such a bludgeoning to the fan base who’s so devoted to you?
To be fair, Morrissey isn’t the only one who’s committed these acts against his legions of followers. Many artists are guilty of doing so, and with more annoying results. Even though I’m not a fan of such a practice, there are bands that justify releasing a “best of” by adding a track or two. But there’s a fallacy to the act of adding new material to a hits compilation—those songs have never been heard before, what makes them worthy of being a “hit” or inclusion on a “best of” CD? I would love an artist to answer that question for me.
For now, my beloved Libertines get to hear it from yours truly. If Time For Heroes is truly a best of collection, what happened to “Music When the Lights go Out?” And, why no “Good Old Days,” one of the most quintessential of Libertines tracks? Now boys, why are you doing this to us? I know that things are looking up for you but how about a little quality control over the release of your back catalogue recordings? Why would you try to swindle your fans with such a shoddy compilation? Why not add new or unearthed tracks? And don’t even try to justify the release of Time for Heroes by saying that the addition of “May Day” from the I Get Along EP as an unreleased song. Nice try, but I am not buying it.
I know there has to be a rare track or two in the cans. The inclusion of the Bernard Butler produced tracks, including the re-recorded “Death in the Stairs,” are lovely additions but not enough. Why not release some live tracks or some rarities like the acoustic X-Mas version of “Time for Heroes” from Jo Whiley’s BBC show, where Pete sings “Carlos with his Santa Claus hat?” How about the official release of such classic gems as “Breck Road Lover” and “You’re my Waterloo?”
I have loved The Libertines since the good old days; the brilliant music you have created has changed my life. Why not release a compilation worthy of your legacy of greatness? Here’s hoping the next time you boys get it right. Until then, I won’t hold my breath for a Libertines reunion, but I can at least eagerly await the next Dirty Pretty Things and Babyshambles releases.