Dramarama – The Best of Dramarama: 18 Big Ones

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 5)

VH1 show Bands Reunited decided to cajole the Wonderama-era members of Dramarama into getting back together in 2003. Whatever the impetus for this stunt, I am glad it worked and the relevant episode is entertaining without being insightful. And as a result, Dramarama released another album in 2005 (minus Chris Carter and drummer Jesse), whose title track is fantastic. The next album (Color TV) arrived fifteen years later in 2020, and there are at least a couple of quality tracks on that one, too.

What I Think of This Album

I could have put together a better Dramarama Best of in about 30 seconds. Among other things, this violates a classic rule of such compilations by including rarities – here, a B-side, two covers (one unreleased and one on a rare single), and an acoustic version. Needless to say, these rarities take up space that could have been filled out with much better songs. It also raises the question of who this collection is for. Fans will already own much of this, and newbies won’t be terribly interested in the extras (because, again, they are not very good), so the suspicion is that Rhino rapaciously tried to rope in both sets of listeners with this mess.

And, the choices for the album tracks are all wrong –  every one of the five studio albums is mishandled and ultimately the band ends up misrepresented. “Emerald City,” “Steve & Edie,” “Wonderamaland,” “Train Going Backward,” and “Senseless Fun” have no place on this album. Instead, quality tracks like “All I Want,” “Questions,” “70’s TV,” “Try,” “Ain’t It the Truth,” “Until the Next Time, “In Quiet Rooms,” “Don’t Feel Like Doing Drugs,” and “Bad Seed” are ignored.

And if the compilers really felt like including covers, the obvious choice would have been “I Wish I Was Your Mother” (Mott the Hoople) off of Wonderamaland, and not a) a Dwight Twilley cover that even John Easdale concedes in the liner notes is not satisfactory; and b) a KISS cover that fails to reflect the band’s deep rock knowledge (which, admittedly, is the one benefit of the Twilley cover).

I really have no good reason to own this. I guess it gives me “It’s Still Warm” from Box Office Bomb (the one classic period Dramarama album I don’t own) and the acoustic version of “Work for Food,” and all the songs have been remastered and arguably sound better, but none of those is a terribly compelling reason. In fairness, I think I bought this before I found Cinéma Vérité and after I decided (incorrectly) to get rid of Wonderamaland, so I thought with one album I was making up for three, though the situation has changed now.

It is entirely possible that the most illuminating element of this package is the band’s own list of 18 Rhino “big ones,” which includes the dBs, Mott the Hoople, a power pop compilation, a punk compilation, two Todd Rundgren albums, two Monkees discs, John Cale, and the Zombies.

The Best Thing About This Album

The acoustic “Work for Food” as the hidden track.

Release Date

1996

The Cover Art

So. Lazy.

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