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Release date: July 7, 2017
Michael Monroe has earned his status as a rock n’ roll icon. From his historic and influential early days with Hanoi Rocks to his latest release, Monroe has been a fixture on the international rock scene since 1981. His ever-evolving sound has ranged from a glam metal take on the Rolling Stones to New York Dolls style punk rock, and David Bowie style pop. Thirty years after his first solo release Finland’s most prolific rock export The Best offers fans exactly what the name would suggest – a mammoth collection of greatest hits, lost treasures and even a new track.
With a total of 29 songs, clocking in at an hour and fourty-four minutes long, it’s impossible to cover each song in this collection, and there are no bad tracks that are easily skipped. Forgotten gems like the Cheap Trick influenced title track to Monroe’s solo debut Nights Are So Long and “Hammersmith Palais” the criminally overlooked rock/punk project Demolition 23 (that gave the world only a single album, The Best reunites us with old friends lost at the back of the CD collection. Back in 1989 MTV introduced Michael Monroe to the world via the video for “Dead, Jail or Rock n’ Roll” featuring Axl Rose, and hearing this track brings me right back to staring at the brightly lit tube hearing the Finn for the first time. Fans of more recent releases will find favorites like “The Ballad of the Lower East Side” and “Old King’s Road.” Every era of Monroe’s career is represented.
Beyond just gathering together some of Michael Monroe’s best tracks, fans will find some extras to add value to this release. Monroe has worked with some legendary artists over the years. The Best includes the saccharin pop “It’s A Lie,” a collaboration with Dead Boys/Lords of the New Church vocalist Stiv Bators, is unlike anything else in Monroe’s catalog. Slash of Guns N’ Roses/Velvet Revolver fame lends guitar work to a cover of the Steppenwolf classic “Magic Carpet Ride.” Unreleased tracks “Fist Fulla Dynamite” and “Simpletown” are the kind of rockers fans would expect, and new track “One Foot Outta the Grave” shows just how alive Monroe’s career is, over three decades from where it began.
Hits collections can be a bit tricky. They either focus on radio hits while sacrificing the artist’s best work, or they include bonus tracks that are throwaways that were unworthy of release in the first place. The Best breaks the mold, offering a truly great selection of songs, both hits and deep cuts. The remastering done on these tracks makes them flow seamlessly, sounding like they were meant to be delivered in a single package. The new and unreleased tracks in this collection are every bit as good as anything Michael Monroe has put out, and shows that the man has more great music left in him. The Best is a truly outstanding collection that reminds me just why I’ve been a fan of Michael Monroe for so many years.
Reviewed by Jim1340