Anthology Season

Logically, I should probably own a few anthologies – I’m the kind of person who would. But, despite having listened to New Order‘s Retro a few times, I remain decidedly underwhelmed by the concept. So this year’s influx of anthologies in our line of music comes as something of a shock to the system, and it’s worth taking a moment to consider what’s actually in them.

Marc Almond – Trials of Eyeliner – The Anthology 1979-2016

Marc Almond announced his first, and it finally enters the shops on 4th November. Here are some quick statistics:

  • Number of discs: 10
  • Number of tracks: 189
  • Retail price: £120

Discs 1-4 are History, a collection of Marc’s favourite album tracks over his impressively long career.

Then Discs 5-7 are Singles, a complete collection of the Soft Cell, Marc and the Mambas, solo, and collaborative hits.

Discs 8-10 are Gems, a set of fanclub releases, collaborations, tracks from soundtracks, demos, and previously unreleased recordings.

You also get a 64-page hardcover book full of photos and images from Marc Almond‘s personal collection.

More details here.

The verdict, for me: you probably need to be a bigger fan than I am.

Erasure – From Moscow to Mars – An Erasure Anthology

Erasure are currently still busy celebrating their thirtieth birthday with some lovely vinyl editions, and also this, released on 21st October:

  • Number of discs: 13
  • Number of tracks: 200
  • Retail price: £80

Discs 1-3 are Erasure – The Singles, another collection of all the Erasure singles. Since we only got Total Pop! in 2009 and another collection just last year, this seems a bit unnecessary.

Discs 4-5 are Erasure by Vince Clarke and Andy Bell, with one disc compiled by each. There are some interesting inclusions, and it would definitely be worth hearing, but probably not one that even the most devoted fan would pick up too often.

Discs 6-7 are Erasure – The B-Sides, an incomplete selection of Erasure‘s b-sides. There are a lot of gems on here actually, and it’s good to see so many of them in the same place at once. Probably worth a listen.

Discs 8-9 are just called Remixes, and are yet another selection of new and old Erasure remixes. There are some interesting looking new ones, such as Little Boots taking on Blue Savannah, but I think you would need to be a completist for this.

Disc 10 has been done before as well – Erasure – Live! is another edited selection of live highlights throughout the years.

Disc 11 is Rarities, some of which haven’t actually been released before, so might be worth the odd listen now and then.

Disc 12 is a nice inclusion, an audio documentary called A Little Respect – 30 Years of Erasure, presented by Mark Goodier from off of the olden days, and with contributions from various contemporaries.

Finally Disc 13 is a DVD release of The Wild! Tour, previously only released on VHS, so probably a nice addition for completists.

Pre-orders also get six unreleased bonus downloads, although it’s difficult to believe there’s anything to write home about among them.

More details here.

The verdict: despite the bargain price, I can’t see a strong reason to buy this one except for the b-sides collection. Hopefully that will come out separately one day.

The Human League – A Very British Synthesizer Group 1977-2016

The smallest of all the anthologies, and probably the one with the oddest artwork (see link below). Released on 18th November, the vital statistics look like this:

  • Number of discs: 4
  • Number of tracks: 92
  • Retail price: £80

There are just four discs on this one, although you do get a 58-page book too. Discs 1 and 2 are the complete collected singles from 1978 to the present, collected for the first time without any omissions.

The rest of the tracks are really just bonus material on a glorified best of. Disc 3 contains early versions of a lot of tracks, although many of them aren’t singles, so this is probably one for fans only.

Disc 4 is a DVD, containing every single one of their promotional videos and a collection of their BBC appearances.

There’s also a triple LP and double CD version containing just the singles, and they’re also touring the whole thing this Autumn.

More details here and here.

The verdict: very tempting, if the price decides to drop to something much more reasonable.

The best of the rest

Also coming out this Autumn are:

Sophisticated Boom Box MMXVI, an enormous 19-disc box set from Dead or Alive, including all the albums as two or three-disc sets, some of which have never actually been released in the UK before, as well as some DVDs and impressive packaging, all for just £118. Definitely one for bigger fans than me, but worth investigating if you’re into that kind of thing.

The Early Years 1965-1972, an astonishing 27-disc set from Pink Floyd, collecting albums, singles, unreleased tracks, singles, videos, and memorabilia from their early years, costing several months’ salary but possibly worth it if you’re an über-fan. More details here.

Depeche Mode take advantage of one of their many years off with a complete collection of videos, Video Singles Collection. This is a three-disc set containing the videos from 1981-2013, including a whole load of material that has never been released on DVD before, plus commentaries. Details here.

Sales Analysis – 2015

This post is a little late this year, but at some point in the first half of a new year, I normally like to take a bit of time to muse over the main headlines relating to the music “industry” in the preceding year. In case you missed them, here are the reports for 2014, 2013, and 2012 respectively.

If you still download music, you’re a dinosaur

The internet transformed the music industry from around 2004 onwards, initially with just illegal downloads, and then, until a couple of years ago, an explosion of legal downloads. That was starting to change in 2014, and by last year, the download was as dead as a dodo.

The number of streamed tracks has pretty much been doubling year-on-year recently, and the trend continued with 26.8 billion streams last year. Audio streaming now accounts for 22.1% of all music consumption in the UK.

I’m a dinosaur, apparently, by the way. There are far too many CD cases in my house already…

Revenues are on the up again

Overall music industry revenues in the UK had been steadily dropping for the entirety of the last decade – sales have continued to slump, streaming hardly contains any money for anyone except the people who make the app, and only live revenues have been increasing in a meaningful way.

This year, for the first time in a very long time, revenues did actually climb by an impressive 3.5%. Which still only puts them back to 2012 levels (that’s barely more than half of what they were in 2005), but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. There’s some detailed analysis and number-crunching here.

Germany, always a strong market, grew by 3.9%, meaning their music industry is now comfortably in third place, with the UK in fourth place, and the USA and Japan in number 1 and 2 respectively. While the Germans celebrate their luck (or happiness), Billboard magazine was rather more pessimistic about the situation in the US.

Everybody loves vinyl

Back in 2012, I questioned the repeated reports of a “vinyl explosion”, as the numbers didn’t seem to back it up. Every year since, I seem to have been proved entirely wrong, which just goes to show what I know. This year saw growth of 64%, meaning it broke the 2 million mark.

Last year’s total (1.3 million) was the highest since 1995, and this year’s is “the biggest for 21 years” (which may mean we’ve now beaten 1995 too).

Having said that, according to a recent Mark Radcliffe show, half of people who buy vinyl never actually listen to it, so the current resurgence may not last forever…

Two-thirds of albums sold are still on CD

Given that the CD format was officially pronounced dead about a decade ago, album sales are still surprisingly healthy. They dropped by just 3.9% from the previous year, which is far slower than it used to be. In fact, I suspect CD album sales are still roughly around the levels they were at in the early 1990s, which really isn’t that bad after all, although it’s difficult to judge, as the only figures I’ve seen prior to 2000 are for “deliveries” rather than sales.

Everybody loves Adele

Adele‘s comeback sold 2.5 million copies in its first 6 weeks, meaning more people bought that album shortly after it came out than bought an LP over the entire year. Yes, apparently she managed to sell 3.1% of all music sold in 2015. Which is quite impressive, to say the least. More on that here.

Understanding that makes it rather less surprising that 13.7% of all music consumed globally is British (I think the article is actually for the preceding year, but the trend is definitely positive), and that 53.5% of music sold in the UK is homegrown. Which is very healthy indeed.

Eurovision 2016 – Part 2

In yesterday’s post, we looked at the two semi-finals, but what exactly happened in the final this year? This was the one you watched, and as you got ever more and more intoxicated, the entries seemed to become more and more bizarre.

The new voting system, which we touched on yesterday, upset viewers so much that apparently a third of a million of them have signed a petition asking for a recount. The EBU, guilty of bring us the song contest every year, apparently think they have done enough already.

What changed this year was that every country got two lots of votes: a jury vote, and a televote. Most of the voting went entirely as you might expect: the further east you travel the more everyone likes Russia; the former Yugoslav countries all get along very nicely; and only Malta likes the UK. Everything is entirely as usual, except for the bizarre inclusion of an Australian entry, which the juries loved a lot more than the televoters.

So why even bother with the jury vote, especially given the apparently questionable behaviour of one of the juries? Well, let’s allow the EBU to figure that out. Ultimately, neither the juries nor the public had their way, and neither Australia nor Russia won.

The UK this year managed 62 points, which sounds impressive until you realise that only put them in 24th place out of 26 entries, and they have only performed worse on four occasions.

Australia, having broadcast the contest annually since 1983, and having participated many times by sending their artists via other countries, made their debut last year, and inexplicably returned this year. Not only that, but they ended up doing so well that they actually won the jury’s vote, with nine countries picking them for the magical douze points.

But ultimately, loved by pretty much everybody, this year’s winner was the Ukranian entry, so next year will take us further easy again.

 Eurovision 2016 – Part 1

One of the most exciting/camp/pointless (delete as appropriate) events of the year took place just a couple of days ago, and yielded a rather unexpected winner. But the Eurovision Song Contest is so big these days that just one contest is nowhere enough – we need three: the final, but also two semi-finals.

This year’s contest was in Sweden, and included a surprise entry from Australia, who were entered into one of the semi-finals, while Portugal and Romania decided not to waste their money this time around.

The first semi-final, last Tuesday, saw several hundred points being awarded to each of Hungary, Croatia, Netherlands, Armenia, Russia, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Austria, Azerbaijan, and Malta. Then the second brought success for Latvia, Poland, Israel, Serbia, Lithuania, Australia, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Georgia, and Belgium.

Let’s take a detailed look at the finals tomorrow, where a new scoring system led to a Danish jury member getting pretty confused, and apparently actually meant that Australia missed out on the win, which would have made for some interesting logistics if the rules hadn’t been changed. And of course Russia ended up very upset indeed.

More tomorrow!

Record Store Day 2016

Backlash aside, I always feel as though we should try and stir up a bit of excitement for this weekend’s Record Store Day, as we did in previous years. Here are some of the releases that caught my eye…

  • a-haHits South America – five previously unreleased live tracks (12″ EP, 3,000 copies in the US, also in the UK and Germany)
  • AirCasanova 70 – four remixes including two by Brendan Lynch (12″ “maxi transparent splatter vinyl”, Canada, UK,  Germany, and Netherlands)
  • David BowieThe Man Who Sold the World (12″ picture disc, 5,000 copies in the US, also Canada, Germany and Netherlands), TVC15 (7″ picture disc, 5,000 copies in the US, also Canada, Germany and Netherlands), and I Dig Everything – The Pye Singles (12″ EP, 7,500 copies in the US, also Canada)
  • CassiusAction EP and 8 Beats (both 12″x2, Germany only – the latter also in Canada)
  • ChvrchesEvery Open Eye Remix EP (12″ EP, 5,000 copies in the US and Canada)
  • John Cooper Clarke – Ou est le Maison de Fromage (180g coloured vinyl, UK only)
  • Étienne de CrécySuper Discount 1, Super Discount 2, and Super Discount 3 (all UK only, format not stated)
  • Dead Can DanceAnastasis (2xLP, 1,500 copies in the US, also Canada, Germany and Netherlands)
  • 808 StatePacific – three remixes (12″ EP, 2,000 copies in the US, also in the UK,  Germany, and Netherlands)
  • EuropeThe Final Countdown 30th Anniversary – three tracks including new remix (12″ electric blue vinyl, UK only)
  • Frankie Goes to HollywoodRage Hard (The Making of a 12″) (12″ EP, 2,500 copies in the US, also in the UK,  Germany, and Netherlands)
  • The Future Sound of LondonAccelerator plus Andrew Weatherall remix of Papua New Guinea and Stolen Documents (black heavy weight LP in printed inner bag with hand-numbered 7″ vinyl, UK and Germany only)
  • Heaven 17(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang (repressed 12″, Canada, UK,  Germany, and Netherlands)
  • Jean-Michel JarreE.S.Exit (7″, Canada, UK,  Germany, and Netherlands)
  • Kings of ConvenienceQuiet is the New Loud, Versus, and Riot on an Empty Street (LPs, UK,  Germany, and Netherlands)
  • MadonnaLike a Virgin & Other Hits (12″ pink vinyl, reissue of 1984 Japanese EP with Obi Strip, 4,500 copies in the US, also in Canada, the UK and Netherlands)
  • Mike OldfieldNuclear (7″ picture disc, Canada, UK,  Germany, and Netherlands)
  • The OrbThe Orb’s Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld (4xLP, UK and Netherlands)
  • The ResidentsThis is a Special DJ Record of The Residents’ Alleged Music. Please Do Not Steal It! Keep it at Your Station – We Need the Radio Airplay (LP, 1,500 copies in the US, also in Canada, the UK,  Germany, and Netherlands)
  • Soft CellSex Dwarf – including remixes by The Grid (12″, Canada, UK,  Germany, and Netherlands)
  • Alan Partridge – Knowing Me, Knowing You (picture disc, UK only)
  • Doctor Who – Genesis of the Daleks (LP blue vinyl, 2,500 copies in the US, also in the UK,  Germany, and Netherlands)
  • Dr. Who and the Daleks / Dr. Who – Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. (LP box set, UK only)

Good luck trying to find any of those. More information for the US here, the UK here, Germany here, and various other countries here.

Flop? The Best of Erasure’s Compilation Albums

As with Jean-Michel Jarre, whose compilation back catalogue we examined here, Erasure have just added yet another one to their list. I was actually surprised how well it performed on the charts, but it proves that they are finally being recognised as they legends they truly are.

But is Always – The Very Best Of their best compilation, or should you go for a different choice? Once an artist has more than a couple of choices on the market, it can be very difficult to choose. Let’s attempt to find out by spuriously but studiously scoring each of their compilations. Firstly, what tracks do you get on each one?

UK Chart Position Pop! The First 20 Hits (1992) Hits! The Very Best Of (2003) Total Pop! The First 40 Hits (2009) Pop 2! The Second 20 Hits (2009) Essential (2012) Always: The Very Best Of (2015)
Who Needs Love (Like That) (1985) 55 * * * *
Heavenly Action (1985) 100 * *
Oh L’Amour (1985) 85 * * * *
Sometimes (1986) 2 * * * * *
It Doesn’t Have to Be (1986) 12 * * *
Victim of Love (1987) 7 * * * * *
The Circus (1987) 6 * * * *
Ship of Fools (1988) 6 * * * * *
Chains of Love (1988) 11 * * * *
A Little Respect (1988) 4 * * * *
Stop! (1988) 2 * * * *
Drama! (1989) 4 * * *
You Surround Me (1989) 15 * * *
Blue Savannah (1990) 3 * * * *
Star (1990) 11 * * *
Chorus (1991) 3 * * * * *
Love to Hate You (1991) 15 * * * *
Am I Right? (1991) 22 * * *
Breath of Life (1992) 8 * * *
Take a Chance on Me (1992) 1 * * * *
Lay All Your Love on Me (1992) *
Voulez-Vous (1992) *
Who Needs Love (Like That) (Hamburg Mix) (1992) 10 * *
Always (1994) 4 * * * * *
Run to the Sun (1994) 6 * *
I Love Saturday (1994) 20 * * *
Stay with Me (1995) 15 * * *
Fingers & Thumbs (Cold Summer’s Day) (1995) 20 * * *
Rock Me Gently (1996) * *
In My Arms (1997) 13 * * *
Don’t Say Your Love is Killing Me (1997) 23 * *
Rain (1997) * *
Freedom (2000) 27 * * *
Moon & The Sky (2001) * *
Solsbury Hill (2003) 10 * * *
Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me) (2003) 14 * * *
Oh L’Amour (August Mix) (2003) 13 * +
When Will I See You Again (2003) *
Video Killed the Radio Star (2003) *
Everybody’s Got to Learn Sometime (2003) *
Breathe (2005) 4 * * *
Don’t Say You Love Me (2005) 15 * *
Here I Go Impossible Again (2005) 25 * *
All This Time Still Falling Out of Love (2005) +
Boy (2006) +
I Could Fall in Love with You (2007) 21 * *
Sunday Girl (2007) 33 * *
Storm in a Teacup (2007) * *
Always 2009 (2009) * *
Be with You (2011) *
Elevation (2014) *
Sometimes (2015 Mix) (2015) *

The Scoring

Firstly, Erasure are a British duo, so it seems reasonable to score each album by the number (and size) of the UK hits that it contains. Let’s award a tenth of a point for each Top 100 hit; an extra point for each Top 40 hit; another for each Top 20 hit; one for each Top 10 hit; and another for a Top 5. Multiple tracks from the same release won’t get any extra points, and neither will the bonus tracks on Total Pop. By my calculation, that gives us:

Pop! The First 20 Hits (1992) Hits! The Very Best Of (2003) Total Pop! The First 40 Hits (2009) Pop 2! The Second 20 Hits (2009) Essential (2012) Always: The Very Best Of (2015)
Tracks 21 20 41 20 16 20
Top 100 21 18 36 15 13 17
Top 40 18 17 33 15 12 15
Top 20 17 16 27 10 11 15
Top 10 12 11 16 4 6 12
Top 5 6 7 8 2 3 9
Total Carried Forward 7.4 6.9 12.0 4.6 4.5 6.8

Any compilation worth its salt should always contain a reasonable cross-section of existing material. We should therefore award points for each album that was available at the time of release. These will be distributed as follows:

  • Over 90%: 10 points
  • 80-90%: 9 points

… and so-on. For the sake of this calculation, we’ll be pretending that Union Street doesn’t exist. That gives us the following scores:

Pop! The First 20 Hits (1992) Hits! The Very Best Of (2003) Total Pop! The First 40 Hits (2009) Pop 2! The Second 20 Hits (2009) Essential (2012) Always: The Very Best Of (2015)
Total from previous table 7.4 6.9 12.0 4.6 4.5 6.8
number of studio albums represented / available 5 / 5 10 / 10 12 / 12 7 / 7 * 7 / 13 10 / 15
Album points 10 10 10 10 5 6
Total Carried Forward 17.4 16.9 22.0 14.6 9.5 12.8

* Even though there were 12 albums available when Pop 2 appeared, it seems unfair to penalise it when it only ever claimed to be a second volume, so I have awarded it the full 10 points here.

Most of the compilations charted, so let’s give them a bonus for performing well, in line with the singles points above:

Pop! The First 20 Hits (1992) Hits! The Very Best Of (2003) Total Pop! The First 40 Hits (2009) Pop 2! The Second 20 Hits (2009) Essential (2012) Always: The Very Best Of (2015)
Total from previous table 17.4 16.9 22.0 14.6 9.5 12.8
UK Album Chart Peak 1 15 21 9
Bonus points 5 3 2 0 0 4
Total Carried Forward 22.4 19.9 24.0 14.6 9.5 16.8

Since Total Pop is a double album, it is gaining slightly unfairly here. Clearly a double album appeals less to the casual fan. By choice, you might go for the cheapest, so let’s subtract the difference based on difference from the cheapest, using the current price of each release (courtesy of Amazon UK).

Pop! The First 20 Hits (1992) Hits! The Very Best Of (2003) Total Pop! The First 40 Hits (2009) Pop 2! The Second 20 Hits (2009) Essential (2012) Always: The Very Best Of (2015)
Total from previous table 22.4 19.9 24.0 14.6 9.5 16.8
Current CD Price £4.99 £5.00 £11.66 £9.47 £13.59 £12.99
Current Download Price £7.99 £12.99 £6.19 £7.99
CD Price Difference £0.00 £0.01 £6.67 £4.48 £8.60 £8.00
Download Price Difference £1.80 £6.80 £0.00 £1.80
Points deducted 0 0.1 6.7 4.5 0 1.8
Total Carried Forward 22.4 19.8 17.3 10.1 9.5 15.0

Some of these releases come with a nice set of bonus features, so let’s add a point or two in honour of them…

Pop! The First 20 Hits (1992) Hits! The Very Best Of (2003) Total Pop! The First 40 Hits (2009) Pop 2! The Second 20 Hits (2009) Essential (2012) Always: The Very Best Of (2015)
Total from previous table 22.4 19.8 17.3 10.1 9.5 15.0
Optional Bonus Features None Bonus disc with megamix Box set with live disc, extra downloads None None Two bonus discs of remixes
Points Added 0 1 5 0 0 5
Total Carried Forward 22.4 20.8 22.3 10.1 9.5 20.0

Finally, it definitely isn’t fair to listeners if you don’t try to squeeze as much as possible onto each disc, so we should subtract points for wasted space on each disc. A release therefore loses a point for each minute below 78 minutes of total possible duration.

Pop! The First 20 Hits (1992) Hits! The Very Best Of (2003) Total Pop! The First 40 Hits (2009) Pop 2! The Second 20 Hits (2009) Essential (2012) Always: The Very Best Of (2015)
Total from previous table 22.4 20.8 22.3 10.1 9.5 20.0
Possible Duration 78:00 78:00 156:00 78:00 78:00 78:00
Duration 78:24 77:52 155:54 77:30 61:02 76:01
Points deducted 0 0 0 0 -17 -2
Final score 22.4 20.8 22.3 10.1 -7.5 18.0

So there you have it! Always: The Very Best Of may be performing well in the charts as we speak, but we have proved using actual maths that it’s not quite as good as some of its predecessors. Depending on how much of a completist you want to be, you should choose between Pop! The First 20 Hits, and Total Pop! The First 40 Hits instead.

And please spare a brief thought for poor Essential, which managed to end up with negative points…

The Essential Guide to Jean Michel Jarre Compilation Albums

If you were paying attention, you may remember me musing previously on the somewhat bewildering array of compilation albums by Jean Michel Jarre (or Jean-Michel, as he appears to have finally settled on styling himself). Circumstances sadly require that we revisit the topic, this time in tabular form for completeness.

In the interests of simplicity, I’ve opted for the short English titles here.

The Essential Jean Michel Jarre / Musik aus Zeit und Raum (1983) The Essential (1976-1986) (1985) Images (1991) The Essential Jean Michel Jarre (2004) Aero (2004) Essentials (from Essentials & Rarities) (2011) Essential Recollection (2015)
Oxygene 2 (1977) * * * * * * *
Oxygene 4 (1977) * * * * * * *
Oxygene 6 (1977) * * * * *
Equinoxe 1 (1978) *
Equinoxe 3 (1978) * * *
Equinoxe 4 (1978) * * * * * * *
Equinoxe 5 (1978) * * * * * *
Equinoxe 6 (1978) *
Band in the Rain (from Equinoxe 8) (1978) * * *
Magnetic Fields 1 (1981) * * * * *
The Overture (from Magnetic Fields 1) (1981) *
Magnetic Fields 2 (1981) * * * * *
Magnetic Fields 4 (1981) * * *
Magnetic Fields 5 (1981) * *
Orient Express (1982) * *
Fishing Junks at Sunset (1982) * *
Souvenir of China (1982) * * * * *
Arpeggiator (1982) * *
Ethnicolor (1983) * *
Zoolook (1983) *
Zoolookologie (1983) * * * * *
Wooloomooloo (1983) *
Diva (1983) *
Second Rendez-Vous (1983) *
Fourth Rendez-Vous (1986) * * * * *
Last Rendez-Vous (1986) * *
Revolutions (1988) *
London Kid (1988) *
Industrial Revolution (1988) *
Calypso 1 (1990) * *
Calypso 2 (1990) *
Calypso 3 (1990) *
Computer Weekend (1991) *
Moon Machine (1991) *
Eldorado (1991) *
Globe Trotter (1991) *
Blah Blah Cafe (1991)
Chronologie 4 (1994) * *
Chronologie 6 (1994) *
Oxygene 8 (1997) *
C’est la Vie (2000) *
Bells (2000) *
Gloria, Lonely Boy (2000) *
March 23 (2002) *
Aero Opening (2004) *
Aero (2004) *
Aerology (2004) *
Aerozone (2004) *

The most essential of the Essential albums

The only reasonable thing to do is to try to score each album. The first thing to look for on a compilation is “the hits”, but this didn’t seem to be readily available, so I’ve had to base this on the UK charts, concluding that his biggest hits are roughly as follows:

  1. Oxygene 4 (#4, 9+2 weeks)
  2. Fourth Rendez-Vous / Rendez-Vous 98 (#12, 5+6 weeks)
  3. Oxygene 8 (#17, 3 weeks)
  4. Oxygene 10 (#21, 2 weeks)
  5. C’est la Vie (#40, 2 weeks)
  6. Equinoxe 5 (#45, 5 weeks)
  7. London Kid (#52, 3 weeks)
  8. Revolutions (#52, 2 weeks)
  9. Chronologie 4 (#55, 2+1 weeks)
  10. Tout est Bleu (#79, 1 week)

One point will therefore be awarded for each of those. This is clearly a little unfair, so let’s also award a point for each of these arbitrarily selected “famous” tracks:

  1. Oxygene 2
  2. Magnetic Fields 2
  3. Souvenir of China

Since everybody loves an exclusive track or two, one point will also be awarded for any new material, up to a maximum of two per compilation. Let’s see what that gives us so far…

The Essential Jean Michel Jarre / Musik aus Zeit und Raum (1983) The Essential (1976-1986) (1985) Images (1991) The Essential Jean Michel Jarre (2004) Aero (2004) Essentials (from Essentials & Rarities) (2011) Essential Recollection (2015)
Hits 2 2 4 7 2 3 3
Bonus Hits 2 3 2 2 2 3 3
Exclusive tracks 0 0 2 0 2 2* 0
total carried forward 4 5 8 9 6 8 6

* Although Essentials doesn’t contain any new material on its main disc, the bonus Rarities disc does, and it deserves some extra points for the bonus disc anyway.

Any compilation worth its salt should always contain a reasonable cross-section of existing material. We should therefore award points for each album that was available at the time of release. These will be distributed as follows:

  • Over 90%: 10 points
  • 80-90%: 9 points

… and so-on. Since The Concerts in China is one of Jarre’s most iconic works, this has been counted as a studio album in this instance. This gives us:

The Essential Jean Michel Jarre / Musik aus Zeit und Raum (1983) The Essential (1976-1986) (1985) Images (1991) The Essential Jean Michel Jarre (2004) Aero (2004) Essentials (from Essentials & Rarities) (2011) Essential Recollection (2015)
Total from previous table 4 5 8 9 6 8 6
Number of studio albums represented / available 4 / 7 5 / 8 8 / 11 10 / 16 9 / 16 9* / 17 8 / 17
Album Points 6 7 8 7 6 6 6
Total Carried Forward 10 12 18 16 12 14 12

* Again, this includes the tracks from the first two albums, which are included only on the Rarities disc. If this seems a little unfair, don’t worry – we’ll penalise it later for its playing time.

This next test might be a little unfair to the early albums, but we need to ensure each decade is fairly represented. In an attempt to award points in accordance with Jarre’s popularity, let’s award points as follows:

The Essential Jean Michel Jarre / Musik aus Zeit und Raum (1983) The Essential (1976-1986) (1985) Images (1991) The Essential Jean Michel Jarre (2004) Aero (2004) Essentials (from Essentials & Rarities) (2011) Essential Recollection (2015)
Total from previous table 10 12 18 16 12 14 12
Includes tracks from 1969-1976 (1 point) 1
Includes tracks from 1977-1983 (5 points) 5 5 5 5 5 5 5
Includes tracks from 1984-1992 (3 points) 3 3 3 3 3 3
Includes tracks from 1993-2000 (3 points) 3 3 3 3
Includes tracks from 2001-2015 (1 point) 1 1
Total carried forward 15 20 26 27 24 32 23

Finally, it definitely isn’t fair to listeners if you don’t try to squeeze as much as possible onto each disc, so we should subtract points for wasted space on each disc. Entirely arbitrarily, anything released after 1990 loses a point for each full minute below 78 minutes; and anything released from 1983-1990 loses a a point for each minute below 60.

The Essential Jean Michel Jarre / Musik aus Zeit und Raum (1983) The Essential (1976-1986) (1985) Images (1991) The Essential Jean Michel Jarre (2004) Aero (2004) Essentials (from Essentials & Rarities) (2011) Essential Recollection (2015)
Total from previous table 15 20 26 27 24 32 23
Duration 50:08 48:35 72:12 66:20 73:35 70:11 74:17
Points lost -9 -11 -5 -11 -4 -7 -3
Grand total 6 9 21 16 20 25 20

From this, we can conclude that the 2011 Essentials & Rarities collection, for all its imperfections, is the one to go with for now if you’re looking for a Jean Michel Jarre collection with the word ‘essential’ in the title.

You may also find the Beginner’s guide to Jean Michel Jarre helpful.