Bjork – Greatest Hits

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Album Review by Mark Bayross

With a tracklisting chosen by her fans via her website, Bjork’s long overdue GREATEST HITS is more of a present to her listeners than the usual record company cash-in – she clearly regards her “hits” as the songs that have touched people the most.

Taken from her four ‘proper’ solo albums, from 1993’s exuberant DEBUT through the eclectic POST, the strings and beats of HOMOGENIC and onto last year’s sublime VESPERTINE, this is a collection of songs that could never fail to be stunning.

There’s no chronological order here: the album begins with the unstoppable quartet of ALL IS FULL OF LOVE, HYPERBALLAD, HUMAN BEHAVIOUR and JÓGA, representatives of all four albums, but with a consistency of sound – strings, muffled distortion, solid beats, Björk’s close-to-tears voice – that firmly plants each track in the here and now…albeit Björk’s otherworldly here and now.

There’s not much that can hold a candle to the icy majesty of BACHELORETTE, ISOBEL or HUNTER, while the nostalgia trip of VENUS AS A BOY and the much-played Fluke remix of BIG TIME SENSUALITY provide possibly the only indication that some of these songs are nearly a decade old.

There are no tracks from POST or SELMASONGS, but amends are made by the inclusion of the incredible PLAY DEAD from the “Young Americans” soundtrack, along with IT’S IN OUR HANDS, a new song of ethereal beauty that would easily have fit onto VESPERTINE, and will soon be released as a single.

While GREATEST HITS makes for inspired listening, it only provides a glimpse of Björk’s creativity. The six CD box set FAMILY TREE, released at the same time, delves much further into her work, charting her development from teenage song-writing on the flute, through the Sugarcubes and onto her own selection of representative tracks and orchestral versions recorded by the Brodsky Quartet.

But this is a peerless summary of a unique career so far, with 15 magical songs that show Björk for the unassailable talent she is. Essential.

6 stars