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
"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."