***Amazon lists the title of this release incorrectly. The correct title is 'Never More Than Now - The ABC Collection'.***
Universal surely is milking the ABC back catalogue with yet another pressing of ABC hits and favorites added to their discography. Only a year after 2006's double-disc 'Gold' release and three years after 2004's 3-disc 'Ultimate Collection' anthology comes this new 2007 2-CD (double jewel case) anthology release from Spectrum/Universal. Of course, a number of single-disc ABC collections have flooded the market in recent years as well, probably a few too many to list here. Is it really worth adding another compilation to your collection?
First of all, I must commend Universal for putting out this release with stunning sound quality -- for some, this may be reason enough to add this set to the shopping basket. It was for me! As I was skimming through the tracks I was pleasantly surprised to hear that all the tracks were very well remastered, most likely the result of the recent 2005 album remastering, enough to give this release high points for audio alone.
Secondly, the tracklisting is interesting and unusual, yet fits for 'The ABC Collection' title. It's just that -- a collection of hits, rarities, b-sides, album cuts, and favorites. It doesn't claim to include the biggest hits and all the singles, so I can't knock the release down for what is and what is not included.
Included are rarities such as "The Look Of Love (Part 3)" and "All My Heart [Live From Boston]" on disc 1 to b-sides such as "24 Carat Plastic" and "Never More Than Now [Kraushaar Mix]". Including alternate versions of "The Look Of Love" and "All Of My Heart" hold this collection above some others for the simple reason that we don't get the repetitive originals again, as much as I love them. This is the first time I've seen "Part 3" of "The Look Of Love" on CD. Why did it take so long?
I do not own all of ABC's albums, but I quite enjoy several of the album cuts presented here on this release, including "Hey Citizen!" from 1983's 'Beauty Stab' and "Paper Thin" from 1989's 'Up'. I suppose most fans and even casual listeners already own several of these cuts on previous collections, but perhaps the real reason for this release is not only to celebrate the 25th anniversary release of ABC's first album, 1982's 'The Lexicon Of Love', but also to introduce the band to a whole new generation of music fans.
Unlike 2004's 'Ultimate Collection', no ABC material is licensed from other labels, including EMI's 1991 'Abracadabra' and BMG's 1997 'Skyscraping'. It's all Neutron/Mercury/Universal material, which is understandable, considering licensing from other companies isn't always possible.
With that aside, throwing "Be Near Me [Munich Disco Mix]" at the end of disc 2 seems so out of place. It should have been presented on disc 1 instead of the original album version, which is readily available on a number of releases. It seems so out of place here since no other tracks are repeated twice elsewhere on the discs in alternate versions, with the exception of "Poison Arrow"/"Theme From 'Mantrap'". Disc 1 clocks in at 77 minutes. Disc 2 clocks in at 74 minutes. Surely, there was room on Disc 2 for another track.
If you are interested in a random selection of ABC hits, favorites, rarities, b-sides, and select album tracks in excellent sound then I recommend this collection for a brief overview of ABC material. If you want the hits, stick to something like 2006's 'Gold' or even 2004's 'Ultimate Collection' -- although I recommend the latter set since it has the best sound quality out of all the releases. Or, perhaps pick up one of those single-disc hits collections. Nonetheless, since Universal is on an ABC reissue and compilation spree, may I suggest remixing their albums in 5.1 audio next? ;)