To hear the members of moe. tell it, they don’t feel like they’ve ever released a studio album that accurately reflects the range and character of the band. Smash Hits, vol. 1, the umpteenth ironically-titled greatest hits compilation by a band that has never had any hits, is an attempt to rectify that. The ten songs, all chosen by the band, span most of its 20-year career. Seven of the ten tracks are newly recorded because of questionable recording quality in the band’s early years or difficulty in obtaining the original masters from Sony.
With all the new studio versions, this album will be of interest even to hardcore fans of the jam-band, and it does a decent job of showing what the band is all about. But hearing the moe. of 2010 play early ’90s chestnuts “Yodelittle” and “Mexico” doesn’t miraculously change what are mostly meandering jams into good songs. The two epic tracks, originally from 1996’s No Doy, “Rebubla” and “Buster”, fare much better because they’re stronger songs. In terms of the tracks’ flow, though, it probably wasn’t a good idea to put those two very similar-sounding songs right next to each other, chronological order be damned. The shorter material on the album is well-chosen, from the entertaining nonsense of “Spine of a Dog” to the funky roots-rock of “Captain America” to the country-fried rocking “Okayalright”. The album is a pretty good snapshot of moe. overall. However, with only ten tracks and just one song from each of the band’s two best studio albums (Tin Cans and Car Tires and Wormwood), Smash s, vol. 1 is far from comprehensive. Let’s hope that the band keeps the promise that Smash Hits, vol. 2 is in the works.