There's been a bewildering array of Jean-Michel Jarre 'best of' compilations over the years, and you might well wonder if any of them are worth owning if you've got most of his classic albums. This "Images" one, from 1991, probably counts as one that completists will indeed want to own. It's got three exclusive tracks on it (Moon Machine, Globe Trotter and Eldorado - admittedly none of them are stunning, just out-takes really), and pretty much all the other tracks are different versions to the ordinary album ones. This ranges from simply shorter edits (e.g. Oxygene Part 2), to beefed-up versions with different some parts re-recorded (e.g. Equinoxe Part 4, which has new drums etc), to entirely new recordings (e.g. a studio version of Orient Express).
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This 'best of' album was originally released in 1991 and then again in 1997, but this time digitally remastered and with 3 extra tracks. It's not merely another compilation album as it has three tracks exclusive to it: 'Moon Machine' (a rare b-side), 'Eldorado' and 'Globe Trotter' (both written for a special concert that sadly never happened). 'Moon Machine' is a quirky, rhythmic, sound-driven rather than tuneful little piece that was recorded for, but left off the Rendez-Vous (1986) album. 'Eldorado' has an ethnic feel to it and is one of those tunes that stick in your head for days. It has been played live a few times since and was adopted as the UNESCO theme for tolerance. 'Globe Trotter' is an adrenaline-pumped sequencer driven track and one of my favourites of his.
Another feature of this album is that the tracks have been mixed together to create a continuous flow of music, with no gaps, like they are on Oxygene (1976), Equinoxe (1978) and many other JMJ albums. I don't think it works quite as well on a compilation, as the different styles from various eras of Jarre's career can sometimes jar when mixed together but it does not detract from the music overall.
Some of the tracks here have been rerecorded, they are: 'Magnetic Fields 2' (an improvement on the original), 'Equinoxe 4' (not as good as the original), 'Orient Express' (a slight improvement) and there is a shorter live mix of the 'Second Rendez-Vous'. Other tracks have been shortened such as 'Ethnicolor 1' which is rather irritating as you don't get the great climax to it, but it's almost inevitable that the long tracks get edited down on a compilation like this.
Many of Jarre's greatest hits are here including 'Oxygene 4', 'Equinoxe 5', and the 'Fourth Rendez-Vous' but there are also some lesser known pieces such as 'Computer Weekend', 'Calypso 3', 'Wooloomooloo' and 'Blah Blah Cafe' (one of my favourites). There are some glaring omissions too: no 'Magnetic Fields 1', 'Souvenir of China' or 'Revolutions' but you can't have everything for a single disc compilation, and all of his studio albums up to Waiting for Cousteau (1990) are represented.
Buy this album if you want a great introduction to his music and particularly if you're a fan and don't have the exclusive tracks offered on this disc. If you want a more up-to-date compilation that features music from the albums Chronologie (1993), Oxygene 7-13 (1997) and Metamorphoses (2000), then go for Essential Jean-Michel Jarre (2004).
P.S. remember to buy this digital remaster of 'Images' and not the original edition as the sound is better and you get more music, including the great 'Zoolookologie'.
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