Even given the fact that their demise was sudden (if not entirely unexpected), it’s safe to say that the conversation as to which member of Nirvana would go on to have the most successful solo career was hardly a hot topic. If pushed, however, the smart money surely would have been on Krist Novoselic, the enthusiastic foil to Kurt Cobain’s tortured frontman. But the long haired guy at the back? Nice bloke and all that but he was, after all, just the drummer.
Fifteen years later and Dave Grohl hasn’t done too badly for himself. His Foo Fighters have grown from a completely solo studio project to a global status, stadium headlining rock band with six albums and a myriad of awards to their name. And now, also unexpectedly, comes their first greatest hits package (not, as Grohl is keen to point out, their greatest songs). While it will undoubtedly fulfil many Christmas wishes what it doesn’t do is explain quite how this workmanlike band got so big.
Put together in one collection, these sixteen songs reveal a band with only one setting – earnest, heartfelt but ultimately uninspired rock. If Grohl is a sparkling and engaging individual, which he is, something has got lost in translation. The shame is that the songs themselves aren’t bad, just presented in the usual plodding manner. They’re tunes that sound good on the radio for sure and even better when backing one of the band’s fantastic videos, but as great, timeless records go they fall well short.
Frustratingly, the Foos do have moments of potential greatness, when they escape their concrete boots and really soar. -Times Like These’, -Learning To Fly’, -Monkey Wrench’ and -Everlong’ (especially the acoustic version included here) are proof that there is something special here, just something that remains buried on far too many occasions. It certainly shows itself on -Wheels’, one of the two new tracks included. Born of exactly the same DNA as Tom Petty’s -Learning To Fly’, it demonstrates the same texture and knack for a great, harmony led chorus. It’s probably the best thing here, which can only be a good thing. It also means that while Greatest Hits might not change our minds about the Foo Fighters’ merits, it does hint that they could still surprise us in the future. How long though, are we prepared to wait?