Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Roger Daltrey 5: Best Bits

MCA Records loved to reissue, re-label, and repackage their catalog, but sometimes they were happy with compiling a hits collection for the heck of it. Having already lost the Who to Warner Bros., they also had to contend with the individuals scampering off for solo deals. Since Roger Daltrey had some mild success in his time, Best Bits was one way to recoup.
To their credit, the album didn’t just regurgitate songs fans owned already. The brand new rockin’ opener “Martyrs And Madmen” was written by Steve Swindells, who’d had some input in the McVicar soundtrack, and is a nice surprise. “Say It Ain’t So Joe” and “Oceans Away” nicely balance rock and ballads. “Treachery” is another new Swindells song, based on a very dated synth part, but at least it’s tuneful. “Free Me” and “Without Your Love”, which MCA was wise to license from Polydor, end the side cleanly.
We recommend all of his first solo album, but the “Hard Life/Giving It All Away” suite is probably the best taster here. “Avenging Annie” is always welcome, and we’re still surprised by how much we like “Proud”. The sloppy typography on the back cover makes us suspect it was an afterthought, but “You Put Something Better Inside Me” was an obscure B-side that could have been an album track, so it’s a nice inclusion in this set. (Further shoddy MCA quality control is on the label, where Jon Astley’s first name is misspelled twice.)
There really aren’t any clunkers on Best Bits. It never made it to CD, even on a crappy transfer, but 25 years later, the Rhino label followed a John Entwistle solo compilation with a similarly packed set for Roger. Martyrs & Madmen astoundingly did not include that particular song, nor the other two new ones, but it did repeat everything from Best Bits except “Proud”, added deeper cuts from the earlier albums, and filled out the balance with several tracks from the ‘80s. (“Martyrs And Madmen” was included on the two-CD Gold compilation in 2005, but that track sequence is just so strange we don’t feel like tackling it here.)

Roger Daltrey Best Bits (1982)—
Roger Daltrey
Martyrs & Madmen: The Best Of Roger Daltrey (1997)—3

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