D&D’s Greatest Hits

So here’s an analogy for Next, and once again I’m going with music.

Successful bands usually end up putting out a Greatest Hits compilation after a handful of albums. Sometimes this is just to fulfil contractual obligations (see: live albums), and always, it’s designed to make a stack of cash. (Lets please pretend it’s the age before downloads made my record collection obsolete and made me cry about how much money I’d spent on… say…. Deacon blue)

Now, the Greatest Hits isn’t really designed for the diehard fan. They already have all the earlier records right? They probably have the Japanese imports and picture discs too. No, the Hits package is for the casual listener, the one who doesn’t really have a big music collection, the one who ‘likes a bit of everything really’. There are way more of these people than there are the diehard (with the exception of Marillion) and when they get behind something, and it becomes available in the Malls and High Sts and garages and so on, then these things can go on to make an absolute mint.

Carry On Up The Charts by The Beautiful South. No-ones favourite band ever, becomes number one in the album chart for 17 years (approx)

The die hard fan doesn’t mind or object particularly. In fact, if there’s the lure of a new track or a rare b-side, they’ll probably get it too. But they won’t ever play the thing. They would much rather return to the source, one album at a time.

For illustration, Pink Floyd. A band with defined eras, from the Syd Barrett nursery pop songs, to hifi exploration, to Roger Waters therapy, to Dave Gilmours pension plan. All discreet, all worthy, all Floyd. I could happily listen to any one piece of the Floyd oeuvre at any time, blissfully. I can’t listen to Echoes (the Hits package) in one sitting. It reminds me of the originals (in a good way) and sends me packing back to them. Having the songs sitting cheek by jowl just doesn’t feel right. They’re not in the right sequence, and they’re missing my favourite one, and they included that dodgy one. Grump.

It doesn’t matter that the original albums were never perfect, that they each contained at least one poor song. That’s fine. The fan forgives.

And that, is where D&D Next finds itself. D&Ds Greatest Hits, remixed, with bonus tracks.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “D&D’s Greatest Hits

  1. Richard

    The problem with “bonus tracks” is the question over why they didn’t make the original album in the first place.Fill in your own answer here but for me it’s usually because they weren’t good enough. I have a good old pile of cds picked up to replace worn or inaccessible vinyl and I can’t think of one where I’ve listened to the bonus tracks more than once. I might have a skewed view because I’m an old fart who likes a piece of work to capture a moment and be the finished article that I can judge and pontificate over tediously; I don’t want stuff added later like some sort of apology for not giving me 60 minutes of stuff when 35 was perfectly acceptable, and manageable quality-wise, at the time.

    With D&D Next I can’t really see what its purpose is and I almost totally agree with all of the analogies above. I know what Pathfinder is; I know what was attempted with 4e; I know what the OSR stuff is trying to do although for the life of me I don’t know why; I don’t know what DCC is doing TO me, and that’s the point which makes it not OSR; I think I know what 13th Age is all about and although I don’t have it I suspect it knocks Next into a cocked hat by having some sort of concept focus.

    I say I “almost” agree because I do think Next is a greatest hits but I think it’s like one of those albums from the seventies; “Top Chart Hits”, followed by the small print, “not the original artists”.

  2. Great analogy. I agree with everything you wrote except that in fact those Pink Flyd albums are perfect :)

    I like the way dnd next is shaping up. It is accessible and full of the dnd essence. It is like a CCR greatest hits: The hits are all there, need nothing else! Pop in the tape and lets run through the jungle.

  3. Rich

    Doesn’t really help those of us who thought the first three (and a half) albums were crap, but the latest one was ace, because none of the tracks off the newest disk are on the compilation…

  4. I’m not sure it’s Greatest Hits as much as recently uncovered session tapes from the recording studio basement. Yes all your favorite songs are here, but they’re unlikely to compare with your favorite version of the popular track.

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