Greatest-hits packages make excellent gifts for music lovers who want an introduction to a legendary band. Compilations can vary -- some feature just the hits, while others include lesser-known songs to give a fuller portrait of the band's sound. These 10 best-of collections, listed alphabetically by band, nail the essence of their respective groups -- and will hopefully open the door to further exploration of these bands.
The only quibble you could make about Green Day's greatest-hits record is that it came out before the release of American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown, which obviously contained their fair share of hit songs as well. Still, International Superhits! ably compiles their '90s highlights, offering a more consistent collection than any of their standalone albums could hope to achieve. Their path from bratty punk-rockers to mature songwriters (who were still pretty bratty) can be chronicled here.
True fans grumble about this Guns N' Roses collection because it focuses on familiar radio staples rather than including some of the band's best material that never made the charts. But no one can argue that this best-of doesn't live up to its title -- it is, indeed, the band's greatest hits. Ballads, covers, and hard rock songs are all included, offering strong proof that the band succeeded at making danger and paranoia hugely successful.
Oasis juggle their chronology (and the definition of "hits") on Stop the Clocks. Ignoring Be Here Now, which had its share of singles, this best-of grabs most of the band's peak moments while making room for obscure songs that are just as terrific as their radio smashes. (In 2010, the band put out a longer two-disc collection, Time Flies, but it's a little too weighed down with minor singles to be as satisfying.) The Stop the Clocks track list bounces around from album to album, but it's a surprisingly cohesive collection -- and it culminates with their finest song.
The title of this greatest-hits album is obviously meant to be ironic -- the 18 tracks collected on Rotten Apples are the best of the bunch. Arranged chronologically, Rotten Apples does a superb job of showing the progression of Smashing Pumpkins from dreamy shoegazing rockers to stadium-filling superstars to moody experimentalists. Holding it all together is frontman Billy Corgan's ethereal, yearning voice.
Focusing almost completely on their radio songs, Soundgarden's A-Sides hits a lot of the highlights of the band's final three albums. But some choice early tracks are also included, helping to illuminate how Chris Cornell and the rest of the guys sounded when they were still struggling to establish a sonic identity. And unlike 2010's Telephantasm, it's not filled with weaker live versions of well-known songs.