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RetroSpective: The Best Of Suzanne Vega

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Audio CD, April 22, 2003
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RetroSpective: The Best Of Suzanne Vega + Tales from the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles + Solitude Standing
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Few singer-songwriters can intoxicate with a phrase and a melody like Suzanne Vega, and no other anthology can boast this: 21 of her hits, album gems and choice rarities! Luka ; the DNA remix of Tom's Diner ; the international hit Marlene on the Wall , plus Left of Center; No Cheap Thrill ; her new songs Penitent and I'll Never Be Your Maggie May , and more!

It's the rare singer-songwriter whose emotional confessions rise above bathos to find true resonance with their listeners; rarer still the one who can connect their audience with the plight of everyday strangers. Suzanne Vega not only managed that feat on her unlikely, child-abuse themed breakthrough hit "Luka" in ‘88, but opened the door for a renaissance of intelligent, female folk-oriented music in the decade that followed. This 21-track anthology spans Vega's career before and since, a chronicle of cool, sharp-eyed detachment infused by a restless, oft-underrated sense of musical invention that spans club-mixes (the "Tom's Diner" here was originally a "pirate" deejay mix by DNA that Vega wisely adopted), Latin jazz ("Caramel"), electro-percussive rhythm explorations ("Blood Makes Noise," "99.9F," and ""Woman on the Tier" from the Dead Man Walking soundtrack) neo-classicism ("Small Blue Thing") and a sharp-edged pop sense ("I'll Never Be Your Maggie May," "Book of Dreams") that can't be denied. That it's all still clearly rooted in a diverse pantheon that includes Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and Woody Guthrie is all the more remarkable. Rarities include "Left of Center" from the Pretty in Pink soundtrack, a live "Queen and the Soldier" and previously import-only "Rosemary." Also features all lyrics and the insightful recollections of Vega colleague/Patti Smith guitarist Lenny Kaye. --Jerry McCulley

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song TitleArtist Time Price
listen  1. LukaSuzanne Vega 3:51$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Tom's Diner (7" Version) [feat. Suzanne Vega]DNA 3:48$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Marlene On The WallSuzanne Vega 3:40$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  4. CaramelSuzanne Vega 2:53$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  5. 99.9 FSuzanne Vega 3:15$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  6. Tired Of SleepingSuzanne Vega 4:22$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. Small Blue ThingSuzanne Vega 3:55$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  8. Blood Makes NoiseSuzanne Vega 2:28$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  9. Left Of Center [feat. Joe Jackson]Suzanne Vega 3:29$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen10. (I'll Never Be) Your Maggie MaySuzanne Vega 3:46$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen11. In LiverpoolSuzanne Vega 4:43$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen12. GypsySuzanne Vega 4:03$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen13. Book Of DreamsSuzanne Vega 3:23$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen14. No Cheap ThrillSuzanne Vega 3:09$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen15. CalypsoSuzanne Vega 4:11$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen16. World Before ColumbusSuzanne Vega 3:25$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen17. Solitude StandingSuzanne Vega 4:39$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen18. PenitentSuzanne Vega 4:16$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen19. RosemarySuzanne Vega 2:43$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen20. The Queen And The Soldier (Live In Switzerland - 1991)Suzanne Vega 5:01$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen21. Woman On The TierSuzanne Vega 2:26$0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 22, 2003)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: A&M Records
  • ASIN: B00008PRS4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,814 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Tim Brough VINE VOICE on May 13, 2003
Format: Audio CD
The first time I heard Suzanne Vega was a dj only copy of "Marlene On The Wall," staccato vocals delivered with velvety precision against a crisp but folksy background. I was hooked. That led me to her debut album and my friends probably wishing I'd shut up already about this great new record I'd discovered. From that debut album on, gratefully, Suzanne Vega never remained stuck in a mold. She grew in confidence (the a cappella opening to "Tom's Diner" being particularly gutsy) and courage to tackle weightier topics, such as the abused child of "Luka."
"Book Of Dreams" was one of the most peculiar pop records I recall from 1990. The album it came from, "Days Of Open Hand" was almost hallucinatory in its consistent referral to dreams and vague impressional memories. Oddly enough, there were no hits here after the massive success of "Luka," but "Tired Of Sleeping" catches the weariness of stardom better than a screaming heavy metal away-from-home song ever could. Stranger still, it was the bootlegged DNA remix of "Tom's Diner" from the previous "Solitude Standing" that became Suzanne's final big hit.
That success gave her even more incentive to push the envelope. Maybe it was the influence of Nine Inch Nails at the time, but "99.9 Degrees" played with distortions and electronica to make an album that - while still firmly rooted in folk - stretched its world view. "Blood Makes Noise" may be one of the best songs about AIDS ever written, complete with the denial that goes with "the thickening of fear."
A four year wait eventually gave us 12 songs of "Nine Objects of Desire." Suzanne returned to relationships with the terrific "World Before Columbus" (featuring a couple of Elvis Costello's Attractions) and the jazz inflected "Caramel." It was about as far removed from "99.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Mars Velvet on August 1, 2003
Format: Audio CD
What a superb collection of songs by this fascinating singer/songwriter/storyteller. The collection not only spans her career but also takes you through at least 4 different styles of music! Here are some of my impressions:
"Luka" was the breakout hit that introduced Vega to radio listeners. A bit folk and a bit of sophisticated tailoring with words and production. A heartfelt story about a child coping with abuse.
"Tom's Diner" offers a slice of life depicting a morning at a diner having coffee and peoplewatching. Originally accapella this collection has the DNA hit remix.
"Marlene On The Wall" has a fast paced vocal delivery over strumming guitars making this a fan fave at concets.
"Caramel" from the album NINE OBJECTS OF DESIRE came to me as a complete surprise! A beautiufl soft vocal over samba jazz which will remind listeners of the early 60's movement of Brazillian jazz and lounge music. It sits comfortably with other Latin lounge hits like "Corcavado" and "Girl from Ipanema". This song is indeed.....a treat.
"99.9F", "Blood Makes Noise" and "Woman on the Tier" show off Vega as an extraordinary industrial music artist. The first is catchy, the second is brilliantly strange, and the third is a disturbing piece from the film DEAD MAN WALKING..
"Left of Center" has an urgent beat that will have you singing this hit from PRETTY IN PINK all day long!!
"(I'll Never Be Your) Maggie May" is a reaction to the song by Rod Stewart! Very interesting lyrics and a neat notion to answer someone else's song!
"Solitude Standing" and "The Queen and the Soldier" show off Vega's folk infuence in epic storytelling.
There are many other gems including "In Liverpool", "Small Blue Thing", and "Book of Dreams".
This is a fine collection for any devout Vega fan or the newcomer to intelligent songwriting. You will enjoy this great CD!
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By H3@+h on April 29, 2003
Format: Audio CD
I can't believe that this Retrospective came out last week, and it isn't even in the top 1000 sellers. Too bad for all those people that don't realize how talented Suzanne Vega is. This is an amazing, and lengthy collection of her best songs from her first album to her last. Whether you're a fan of her folkier stuff, or her more upbeat songs like "Blood makes noise" and "99.9 farenheit degrees", this has got it all. Included of course is her breakthrough hit "Luka", and "Tom's Diner" featuring DNA. My current favorite is "(I'll never be) your Maggie May". It's Suzanne's take (not cover), on the Rod Stewart Song. So good. This also has her songs from the movies "Dead man walking" and "Pretty in Pink". I saw her live this week, and she put on a great show. She was very nice and down to earth. Of my past 10-20 cd purchases, I might just enjoy this one the most.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By W. Andrews on June 27, 2003
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
For those that remember 'Luka' or Tom's Diner and always wanted a copy, but the thought of buying a whole album seemed a bit much, this is the ticket. If you heard 'Caramel' in The Truth about Cats and Dogs, here is a chance to hear more of that smooth voice. This is also a great chance for an old fan to catch up. Great gift CD, Best-of's are generally well received.
For the American fan, this is a great chance to hear the hidden jewel "Rosemary". Rosemary was recently voted as a top pick by her fans. Rosemary is perhaps the best combination of her lyric writing talent, music writing and performance, and vocal work. This would be money well spent.
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