WHO knows best?

IS a greatest hits album a milestone or a millstone for a rock band?
That's the question Andy Kent of chart-topping Australian outfit You Am I was contemplating when compiling the songs for the band's latest album, The Cream & The Crock: The Best Of You Am I.

To be successful enough for long enough was certainly worth celebrating with a tribute album. However, to be around so long to warrant a best-of CD showed the lads from You Am I were no longer young bucks but more in the grip of the legendary age group. Then there was the battle for which tunes from a host of songs got a guernsey on a CD to reflect 12 years of recording. "Initially, the project hung like a millstone around everyone's neck," bass player Kent said with a laugh. "We were thinking `has it all come to this?' but the more we thought about it the more we got excited. "Then the arguments started and it all became a bit of a chore."

The band was initially told by the record company the best-of compilation would be limited to 14 tracks. Despite its best efforts, arguments and fights, the band could not negotiate below 35 "must-have" tracks. Of course, there were the walk-up hit singles from the six studio albums - including Berlin Chair, Heavy Heart, Cathy's Clown and Purple Sneakers - but the band wanted more than a best-selling compilation. "We had tried arguing, fighting and even paper-scissors-rock and still couldn't narrow down the field of songs," Kent said. "So we decided we must have a second CD." So Cream and Crock - a two-set CD - was born.

"We just thought fans may have missed out on a favourite song if we were limited to 14 tracks," he explained. "And with a second CD, we could all get our own favourites on as well." The anguish was not over. "My favourite songs change all the time and I'm not like Amity Dry, I don't listen to my own records," Kent said. "Although I must admit, I have a soft spot for How Much Is Enough." So, after 12 years, six albums and dozens of touring trips around the globe, why are You Am I so popular? "Honesty," Kent replied. "Tim (Rogers) makes honest observations in his songs, our attitude to music is driven by what we want to do and not by marketing strategy and we put on a good live show. "I think people relate to that."