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As a die hard music fan, I usually tend to by greatest hits albums from my favorite bands. It just depends on what songs are on the album, whether or not it is missing any songs, and if so, how many songs it doesn't have that it should. I thought that Warrant's first greatest hits compilation, "The Best of Warrant", was pretty good, with only a few exceptions: If I would have compiled the tracks for that compilation, I would have replaced the accoustic version of "I Saw Red" with the original version, I would not have chopped off the last few seconds of "Bed Of Roses", and I would have replaced "Sure Feels Good To Me" with "You're The Only Hell You're Mama Ever Raised". Other than those small flaws, I thought that it was an excellent compilation. I will say, while Warrant's most recent greatest hits album, "Then and Now" does have a few pros to it, for the most part, it is a dissapointing compilation.
This CD was released by CMC International Records,who signed Warrant after Columbia Records had dropped them. When Warrant was signed to CMC, they released the following albums: "Ultraphobic" (1995), "Belly To Belly: Volume One" (1996), and their first live album, "Warrant Live: 1986-1997"(1997).
This album is a bit of a follow up to "The Best of Warrant". It takes a look at the era when Warrant had become a grunge band, and with the exception of "Machine Gun", a song that appeared on the third Warrant record, "Dog Eat Dog" (1992), which found Warrant expirimenting with some grunge material, all of the live songs on here either originally appeared on Warrant's first two albums, "Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich" (1989)and "Cherry Pie" (1990). The three songs taken from "Ultraphobic" are "Followed", "Family Picnic", and "Stronger Now", and the three songs taken from "Belly To Belly" are "Feels Good", "Indian Giver", and "A.Y.M.". The cuts from the live record are the live versions of "D.R.F.S.R", "Down Boys", "Heaven", "Cherry Pie", "Uncle Tom's Cabin", and "Machine Gun".
Now, on to my thoughts of the record. What is wrong with this compilation? The answer is simple: too many live songs. I usually don't have a problem with greatest hits albums that have more than one or two live songs on there. Slaughter's "Extended Versions" album, which took ten out of the twelve songs on their "Eternal Live" live album, was a pretty good compilation of live songs, although I would have left out the short, two minute version of "Spend My Life" and might have chosen more live songs to be on the record,most likely unreleaesed live stuff. Since the live songs on this record are songs that appeared on Warrant's first three albums, the problem that evolves around this record is that this possibly could have been a career spanning compilation with the exceptions of two live cuts. If I would have been the compilation producer for this album, or if I was just checking things over, I would have let the live version of "D.R.F.S.R." remain in it's place as the opening track for this album, but I would have replaced the live version of "Machine Gun" with the live version of "I Saw Red". As already mentioned below, "Machine Gun" does sound (and I am using a different word for when I say this)pretty cool when it is performed live, but having the live version of "I Saw Red" on here would have made up for the fact that the accoustic version of that song replaced the original version of it on Warrant's first greatest hits compilation, and not only that, it sounded beautiful when it was performed live: It started off with singer Jani Lane singing and keyboardist Danny Wagner doing an excellent job at playing his keyboards, and then halfway through it, the guitar, bass, and drums kicked in. Having the live version of "Heaven" on here is a little bit pointless, since Warrant did not bother to do the full-length version of it on their live record. When the compilation producer for this album was compiling all of the tracks for this record, what was he/she thinking?
As for the studio tracks on this record, the selections were pretty good. A lot of people didn't like "Ultraphobic" and "Belly To Belly", becuase they were both grunge sounding albums and also becuase Warrant was giving up on their original roots. The best choice for the studio songs was definitely "Family Picnic". A lot of people don't know this,but when "Ultraphobic" was released in 1995 and Warrant released that song as a single and sent it to radio stations without telling them who they were, after it had been edited for radio (keep in mind that it was about child abuse), radio stations played it, even though they didn't know who it was. Soon after that was when radio listeners heard it and really liked it, and soon after the people listening to the radio really liked the song and wanted to hear it more, radio stations stopped playing it once they knew who it was, becuase the time was 1995 and if you were a member of a hair metal group that was not Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, or Posion, then you were in trouble with trying to get another big hit, even if the song you were releasing as a single fit in with the new kind of music that had been big for about four years and was getting a lot of airplay on the radio. Too bad, becuase that was when "Family Picnic" almost became a hit and almost helped make "Ultraphobic" make the charts (because of the whole thing between Warrant and a lot of the radio stations back in 1995 is probably what screwed up the comeback Warrant almost made). I enjoyed "Ultraphobic and "Belly To Belly", but I can see why a lot of die hard Warrant fans didn't. I will admit, it took me a few listens to get into "Ultraphobic",but even though I am not what you would call a fan of grunge, it was not a bad album. As for "Belly To Belly", it was a little bit of both blues and grunge, and while it was definitely not as good as D.R.F.S.R., Cherry Pie, or Dog Eat Dog, it was kind of a nice and relaxing album that someone could have put on and listen to in hopes of falling asleep while listening to music.
Another pro for this album is that it kind of bids farewell to Warrant singer Jani Lane, who left the group last year and was replaced by Jaime St. James, the lead singer for the obsecure 80's hair metal group Black 'n Blue, a band that was produced by Gene Simmons and featured KISS' current guitar player, Tommy Thayer. Warrant is putting out a new full-length studio record this year with St. James at vocals, and not counting their cover record, it is their first full-length studio record in nine years, ever since the album "Belly To Belly" was released. It also marks Warrant returning to their orignal roots with a bit of a new twist (or at least that's what they said on their website), so that's good to know. The "Then and Now" series usually feature rare photos and a few small liner notes about the band, and that is a nice touch for a greatest hits package.
Overall, with this being such an uneven compilation, my recommendation is to save up some cash, get "The Best of Warrant" if you don't have it instead of this, and also wait until the new Warrant album is released this summer. I can see why CMC would possibly hesitate to do a career spanning compilation for Warrant,especially since their first three albums were not released by CMC, but it still would have been a nice touch for this package. It also might have helped sales, since most Warrant fans had a negative reaction to "Ultraphobic" and "Belly To Belly". If CMC did not want to put any songs from D.R.F.S.R., Cherry Pie, or Dog Eat Dog on this record, then this album could have done with four live songs and the two original songs off of Warrant's cover record, 2001's "Under The Influence". Warrant released that album off of their own record label, Down Boys records, but even though Warrant left CMC a long time ago, since Warrant released their covers album off of their own record label, why does it matter? Warrant didn't know about it when Sony Records first released "The Best of Warrant" but they knew about this record, so there is a good chance that they might have said yes. But CMC didn't do either of those following things, and as mentioned below, this is a pretty good sampling of Warrant live and in concert, but for the most part, it is just a poor cash in attempt for music from one of the most succesful (and in my opinion, one of the best)bands of the hair band era: Warrant.