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12 by...

In an effort to 1) make sure this blog has more regular content and 2) roll with the digital times, I'm instituting a new feature. So in addition to my sporadic reviews of albums, and the occasional rant about whatever is on my mind, you can look for 12 by... every week.

But what is it all about? Well, any music obsessive worth his or her muster has made at least one custom "best of" mix for his or her favorite artist, right? Best of collections are a tried-and-true tradition, and yet they are so often poorly done. (Read extensive thoughts on the matter here).

My idea is that there are many many artists who only need a 12 track best-of, and nothing more. Consider those 20th Century Masters Millenium Collections. Certain artists (Donnie Iris, Go West) are perfect for it and others (Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder) are not. You can't summarize Elton John or David Bowie in 12 songs.

Ironically, the number 12 comes from James Taylor's Greatest Hits album. I cannot imagine a more perfect summary of his music, even though he has put out many enjoyable songs since its release. I wouldn't pick an artist of his caliber for this project, and yet he sets the standard.

So I'll be giving you an artist, and the only 12 songs you need to know by that artist.

As for what to do with my opinion? Maybe it will serve as a good place to start downloading a certain artist's work. If you already have all the songs I mention, you could use it to make a playlist in your iTunes. Or you could argue with me about the exclusion of your favorite song. Or you could just read and enjoy.

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