“Volume 2? Did they have a Volume 1?” It seems like a daft question, but you’ll not find the band shouting about their first “greatest hits” compilation as it was one of those contractual obligation farces released to get them out of a contract, and they saw nothing from it financially. Papa Roach urged fans not to buy it at the time (2010), and they’re not the first band to leave a label making such a statement.
So, fast forward a decade and another one appears though the first the band have been involved in. Unlike some “best of” albums, the band haven’t written any new music for it, but there are updated or alternate versions provided for each track. The vast majority fall under the “remastered” banner, one has added guest vocals, four are remixes and two live acoustics are tagged on at the end.
I’ll start with the most recent single, “Broken As Me” which was originally on 2015’s F.E.A.R. album (a title which throws up memories of a Fighting Fantasy gamebook, something nerds of a similar age to myself may recall). Asking Alexandria’s Danny Worsnop stepped in to beef up the vocal output and you can check out the result in the lyric video below. Worsnop’s input is limited (as much as I can tell) to the final bridge where he replaces the original Shaddix recording. Otherwise, this is very much the same as the original.
I dipped in and out of some of the other tracks and I really couldn’t get a huge sense of much being done with the remasters. To some extent this isn’t a bad thing. I’ve heard some remastered albums in the past (Megadeth, I’m looking at you) where you’re left wondering why someone would bugger around with something that the band had nailed on the first outing. No such issues here as there don’t seem to be any daft twiddles, maybe just a little more clarity or bass here and there… and in honesty that could just be a difference in the quality of the recordings I was comparing.
So onto the remixes. “Elevate” (Aelonia Remix or Dr Cool X Babe Remix, depending on which tracklisting I look at) is… not for me. While I admire Papa Roach’s blend of rap/dance and rock – it’s what makes nu-metal after all – this flips the mix too far into dance territory for me. The same attribution (Aelonia or Dr Cool) is given to “Help” and it’s much better, resulting in a different take on the song. More relaxed and soulful, this is what a remix should be, taking the essence of the original and looking at it from a different perspective.
“Born For Greatness (Cymex Remix)” was again too dancey for my tastes, while “Top of the World” is back to Aelonia/Dr Cool and somehow ramps up the samples but doesn’t annoy me. It’s the only one of the four which doesn’t have the original earlier on in the album.
Finally, two acoustic numbers and these really do work. “Face Everything and Rise” and “Leader of the Broken Hearts” were great choices. Often bands try to hammer a song into acoustic form that just doesn’t work, but these two are great.
So, what to make of it? As with any compilation there’s the issue of fans who already have all the original albums. In terms of the majority of tracks, there’s no real reason to add these remasters to the playlist. The remixes are curious, though, and may be worth a spin for those who are into that kind of thing, and the acoustic versions are definite winners. I guess these days, not many people buy “albums” as such so you can take your pick on Spotify. In lieu of a curated playlist on there, this is as good a snapshot of the last decade as you’ll get. And at least they’ll earn something from it, unlike Volume 1.
Greatest Hits Volume 2 is out on March 19th