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How Many Of Their Songs Do You Know? Now Double It!
on 23 January 2011
Stereophonics are one of those bands where the listener doesn't quite realize just how many songs they know well enough to actually sing along to. One of those rare bands whose songs are so infectiously catchy that even if you're a non-fan or casual listener you'll still find yourself humming along to a track you previously thought you'd never heard before when you read the title on the tracklisting.
First of all there is a difference between a Greatest Hits and a Best Of album. This was an oversight by the record company, as this album is a Greatest Hits collection. Any long-term Phonics fan will confirm that many of the band's best material were not released as singles and therefore don't make the cut here. However it's an oversight which can be forgotten about quite quickly because the band did indeed choose their singles very wisely, there is not really a bad song on the entire LP and it makes for a 'Greatest Hits' which is steadier than that of rock bands with far more reputation and ego.
Most casual fans would probably say off the top of their head they know 3 or 4 Stereophonics songs, maybe one or two of those well enough to sing along with if they had to. However, when listening to the LP you'll indeed be shocked. Starting with the band's biggest overall hit, summer 2005 anthem "Dakota", the band then leap into 1999's "The Bartender And The Thief" before the amazing "Just Looking". Then we get 2001's misunderstood feelgood hit "Have A Nice Day", which is an incredibly cynical song about American life dressed up in a summer acoustic bounce to fool the listener into thinking it's a happy tune.
"Local Boy In The Photograph" is a long-time classic now and it's immediately followed up by 2003's epic "Maybe Tomorrow" which sees Jones' voice in excellent form. By the time you hit the halfway point on "I Wouldn't Believe Your Radio" you'll have remembered you know about half the album's tracks.
We get two new tracks here, too. The soft but not great "You're My Star" is a worthy effort but not worthy of being on their best of collection for sure, and "My Own Worst Enemy" - a track which will remind you why Stereophonics are suddenly relevant in the rock scene again after disappearing for a few years at the start of the millenium decade. This is indeed one of their finest rock performances to date.
Kelly Jones possesses one of the trademark voices of the rock scene today, his hacksaw tainted vocals sound never-more-impressive than when they're towering over a building guitar riff and in the last five years the band have rediscovered the rock drive which has resulted in some of their best material to date. In the follow-up to this album the band released a new LP, "Keep Calm And Carry On" which saw them create another 5 tracks which could have made this collection.
Stereophonics are perhaps unfairly tagged in the rock industry and not givent the credit they deserve, but in listening to this album one thing remains constant throughout, Stereophonics ultimately have the last laugh. The proof is in the quality of the songs, and any Greatest Hits collection where a casual listener can sing along with half the LP is indeed a great achievement.