Since Yo La Tengo’s discographical accomplishments begin with their mastery of their own song titles, I assumed and fervently hoped that this best-of would boast a neat table indicating recording date and provenance of original release, but instead the booklet comprises readable, fact-impaired essays by two bosom buddies. Those scamps. Research indicates that of the 26 songs on the first two discs, no more than three come from any of their four best albums; that either disc plays as smoothly as any of said four and as deeply as any but I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One; and that the “outtakes and rarities” add-on consistently recalls those moments on said four that you forgive and even enjoy because they’re on their best albums. These aren’t.
I thought this was such a stupid idea that I forgot it after one play when it came out in November 2004. It flunks my redundancy test big-time—almost everything on it is from an album worth owning. But when I finally returned I noticed that (a) 11 of the 16 tracks were from 1971 or earlier and (b) there wasn’t a second that didn’t fit beautifully, “Heart of Gold” and “Harvest Moon” included. At the very least, an excellent conversion