In the course of Chris Isaak's career, he has released nine extraordinary albums, twelve singles, been nominated for two Grammy awards, acted in several motion pictures and starred in his own critically acclaimed TV series. His legendary shows with his longtime band Silvertone have entertained tens of thousands of people for over two decades. Even his hair has its own fan club. And yet, this highly praised herald platinum-selling artist has never released a greatest hits album.
Hard to believe, no? Well, unlike some artists who roll out a greatest hits package after, say, their second album, Isaak waited until he actually had enough hits to legitimately describe the collection as such.
"Shouldn't a greatest hits collection after two records be called 'Greatest Hit'?" Isaak asks. "I guess I've just always been too busy making records. Plus, it takes a while before you really want to compile everything. But after going through all the songs to make the Best Of, I feel like we have good stuff."
Good stuff. That's typical Isaak self-deprecation- it's much more than good stuff. Best Of Chris Isaak-the CD and accompanying DVD, which features 18 video clips by such esteemed directors as Gus Van Sant, Bruce Weber, Herb Ritts, Mary Lambert and Jean-Baptiste Mondino-take listeners on a gratifying musical journey through the Stockton, Calif., native's two-decade career, showcasing his stellar songwriting; smooth, dusky baritone (and tender falsetto that will alert your dog); and effortless brand of stylish retro-cool.
The album displays Isaak's many different musical personas: the rockabilly rebel ("Dancin'," "Baby Did A Bad, Bad Thing," "Speak Of The Devil"), the brokenhearted crooner ("Wicked Game," "Somebody's Crying"), and the breezy acoustic storyteller ("San Francisco Days," "Two Hearts"). It includes two brand new songs, the elegant "King Without A Castle" and the break-up exhortation "Let's Have A Party," as well as two covers: Cheap Trick's power-pop anthem "I Want You To Want Me," a live favorite previously unavailable on any of his CDs ("It's kind of fun to do something a little different for me," Isaak says), an inspired version of his hero Roy Orbison's classic lovelorn ballad "Only The Lonely," and a stirring never before heard acoustic version of "Forever Blue."
"What a sweet guy Roy was," Isaak says. "We opened for him one time and after the show I said to him, 'I don't know if I write hits or not,' and he said, 'You write hits, you just don't know it.' It was exactly what I needed to hear at the time to keep me going for another year."
That was before noted director David Lynch used "Wicked Game," a spare, moody ballad from Isaak's third album, Heart-Shaped World, in the film Wild At Heart. The song went Top Ten in 1991, and the video, a steamy Herb Ritts-directed clip featuring the singer rolling around on the beach with a topless Helena Christensen, made Isaak a star. "'Wicked Game' really put us out there," he says. "We were on the road at the time, and got to ditch our van and get into a bus. For the first time in years, we got some sleep!" ….