This Friday just gone marked the release day of this year’s triple j Hottest 100 compilation. The annual selection of tracks serves as a way to collect some of the highlights of the most recent Hottest 100 countdown, and also as a musical time capsule of years past – not to mention the go-to soundtrack for countless afternoon barbecues.
But of course, triple j have released many more compilations throughout their history than just Hottest 100 compilations. From releasing vinyl compilations in their early days, to CD releases as the ’80s waned, triple j have been on the forefront of releasing quality collections of music for years.
So, we decided to have a look back at 12 of the best compilations that triple j have released over the years, and discover what exactly makes them so great.
‘Like A Version 2’ – (2006)
The famous Like A Version segment has been running since 2004, and the fine folks at triple j have been releasing compilation albums that collect the best performances since 2005. But in 2006, they released the second volume of these compilations, frequently said to be among one of the best by numerous listeners. Where else will you manage to see the Eels cover Prince, Gyroscope cover Jebediah, Tegan And Sara cover Bruce Springsteen, or The Drones cover The Beasts Of Bourbon all in one place?
Like A Version 2 also houses The Herd’s classic ‘I Was Only 19’, a cover of the 1983 Redgum song of the same name. The track resonated with listeners so much that it became the first Like A Version cover to make into a Hottest 100 countdown, reaching #18 in 2005.
‘Totally Wireless: The Triple J Acoustic Sessions’ (1993)
If we’re going to take a look back intro triple j history, you’ll see that one of their first compilations was a vinyl EP of their Live At The Wireless program in 1982. This was followed by a live LP in 1984, and by the time the 90’s had rolled around, the station had started to released a series of Live At the Wireless compilation CDs. In 1993, they decided to change things up a bit by releasing a compilation of all the acoustic tracks that bands had played while being recorded by the station.
Dubbed Totally Wireless: The Triple J Acoustic Sessions, the compilation included tracks such as young You Am I performing ‘Embarrassed’, Sydney’s Smudge playing ‘Divan’, their pal Evan Dando of The Lemonheads playing ‘Confetti’, and The Blackeyed Susans performing ‘Oceans Of You’. One of the most memorable tracks from the disc happened to be Sydney band Glide performing an acoustic cover of The Lemonheads’ ‘Ride With Me’. Released only six years before the dissolution of the band due to the death of frontman William Arthur, the track shows a soulful young band in their prime, taking a chance to deliver one of the most beautiful performances they could muster.
‘The Hip-Hop Show’ (2005)
Champions of almost any genre, triple j’s The Hip-Hop Show has been a fixture on the station for years, and back in 2005, the station cemented their love for the genre and program by releasing a CD containing some of the best tracks going around at the time. Filled with a wide variety of hip-hop classics and rarities, tracks from Australia, the USA, New Zealand and England are all present as they take a look back at the tracks that listeners were loving at the time.
Between blistering cuts from Bliss N Eso, Phrase, Mnemonic Ascent, Muph & Plutonic, Mos Def, and the Funkoars, The Hip-Hop Show host Maya Jupiter managed to compile one of the best collections of local and international talent. One of the few albums released by the station containing a strong language warning, it was an unrelenting mix that still holds brilliant replay value.
‘Super Request: Dog’s Breakfast’ (2005)
One of the most popular segments on triple j for over a decade, Super Request allowed listeners to request their favourite tracks to be played on the station. Hosted by Rosie Beaton, Super Request managed to light up the lives of many a listener until it wrapped up in December 2011. But back in 2005, the show’s popularity warranted a compilation CD, or maybe it was just so people could listen to the most popular tracks at home and stop ringing up to request King Missile’s ‘Detachable Penis’.
Super Request: Dog’s Breakfast served as a ‘greatest hits’ of the show up until 2005, and collected the most-requested songs on the program. Featuring tracks such as Rammstein’s ‘Mein Teil’, Machine Gun Fellatio’s ‘Unsent Letter’, Dana Lyons’ ‘Cows With Guns’, and Scissor Sisters ‘Tits On The Radio’, the disc served a perfect party mix for any triple j listener. One of the memorable tracks from the compilation happens to be the insufferably infectious ‘Fridays’ from Matty B, proving that 2005 was a completely different time.
‘The J Files: The Best B-Sides Of All Time’ (2002)
While it’s seen a revival on Double J in recent years, The J Files were a weekly segment on triple j that focused on an artist or theme. Hosted by Richard Kingsmill, his encyclopaedic knowledge proved to be one of the most popular segments for the nostalgic listener up until 2007. The success of the program resulted in a book written by Kingsmill, and a couple of relatively obscure compilations, one focusing on some of the best cover versions of all time, and one focusing on the best B-sides.
Proving that sometimes the A-side isn’t always the best choice, the J Files B-sides compilation flipped some of the more famous singles released in recent decades to find a far better choice of tune. Including tracks like Radiohead’s ‘Talk Show Host’, Oasis’ ‘Acquiesce’, The Jesus And Mary Chain’s ‘Kill Surf City’, and Something For Kate’s ‘Hawaiian Robots’, the disc uncovered some of the lesser known tracks by bands and put them into a well-deserved spotlight. One of the disc’s highlights, Regurgitator’s ‘I Like Your Old Remix Better Than Your New Remix’ proved that the group can actually provide a far better commentary of music than the A-side, ‘! (The Song Formerly Known As)’, could ever hope to.
‘Triple J Unearthed 4’ (1997)
Back in 1995, triple j launched their Unearthed program. Dedicated in ‘unearthing’ some of the best unsigned talent around the country, they used to go state to state, checking out new bands in hopes of finding the best. One of the first Unearthed groups was Grinspoon with their track ‘Sickfest’, which was recorded and released on the first Unearthed compilation CD which focused on areas of the country like Lismore, Bendigo, Townsville, Alice Springs. By the time the fourth Unearthed compilation, triple j had unearthed gold in places such as Cairns, Hobart, Mount Gambier, and a little place in northeastern Victoria called Violet Town.
Kicking off the fourth Unearthed compilation was a then-up and coming band known as Killing Heidi. Fronted by a 14 year old Ella Hooper, the group featured with their track ‘Kettle’, which was instrumental in bringing them to the spotlight, allowing them to record and release classic Aussie songs such as ‘Weir’, ‘Mascara’, and ‘Live Without It’. Additionally, the disc included tracks from Endorphin, who would go on to release classic tracks such as ‘Afterworlds’ and ‘Sex And Violence’, and other groups such as Stealth, and Vinyl. If you ever wanted a CD that captured some classic Aussie bands before they were big, this is exactly what you need.
‘Eleven: A Very Loud Compilation’ (1994)
Eleven: A Very Loud Compilation was the moment that triple j showed their teeth and started to appeal to the metalheads of Australia. While metal music wasn’t exactly a genre that they strayed from, this compilation marked the first time that metalheads had a CD made just for them, and what a CD it was.
Featuring brutal tracks from bands like Tumbleweed, Nine Inch Nails, Revolting Cocks, Tool, and a decidedly un-heavy track from Weezer, Eleven: A Very Loud Compilation captured the very essence heavy metal and brought the best of it to the masses. Aussie bands were also very well represented on the disc, with The Meanies, Powderfinger, Silverchair, and even a young Magic Dirty included within the tracklist.
The very first triple j compilation released on CD, Ambience was a selection of some of the best tracks from their weekly, late-night program of the same name. Compiled by the program’s host, Arnold Frolows, the disc featured a relaxng selection of some of the best ambient bands Australia had on offer.
With tracks from artists like Chris Abrahams, Steve Kilbey, John Elder, and Not Drowning, Waving, Ambience proved to be one of the most relaxing releases in the triple j oeuvre. While the Ambience program no longer exists, and this compilation itself is relegated to the annals of music history, it is a small piece of music history that proves Australia can stand head and shoulders above the rest, regardless of genre.
‘Beat The Drum’ (2015)
2015 saw the 40th anniversary of triple j, showing that they’ve come a long way since they played their first track, Skyhooks’ ‘You Just Like Me ‘Cos I’m Good In Bed’, in 1975. With a series of celebrations undertaken by the station for the big event, one of the largest was a concert called ‘Beat The Drum’ as part of the 2015 Sydney Festival.
Artists such as Ball Park Music, Vance Joy, Gotye, You Am I, and The Cat Empire all came together to perform some of their biggest hits for the concert, but it was the concert’s final artist, the Hilltop Hoods that stole the show. In addition to a variety of their biggest hits, their penultimate track was a performance of their huge hit ‘Cosby Sweater’. Featuring a wide variety of guest artists, such as Illy, Horrorshow, Drapht, Seth Sentry, Tkay Maidza, and Thundamentals, the performance encapsulated some of the biggest and best artists played by the station at the time, proving that they were indeed what makes triple j great.
A precursor to triple j’s Roots n’ All show, their World Music Show was one of the few programs in the 90’s that would broadcast large varieties of music from genres and countries often ignored by even the most alternative radio stations.
With music coming from places as far and wide as Algeria, Monserrat, and Benin, we were also treated to music from our own backyard, with artists such as the Sunrize Band, the Martenitsa Choir, and ArramAieda represented as well. One of the compilation’s most memorable moments came from Kev Carmody, whose track ‘On The Wire’ appeared as one of the closing songs on the disc.
‘Home And Hosed: The First Harvest’ (2003)
In 2003, triple j’s Home And Hosed program decided to start releasing compilations of the music they had been playing on the show. While the show was dedicated to showcasing some of the best up and coming Aussie acts around, it managed to do more than that, effectively selecting a reputable ‘who’s who’ of Aussie music for the year of 2003.
Featuring artists such as Little Birdy, Gerling, Offcutts, Screamfeeder, The Herd, The Panics, Butterfingers, Epicure, Sarah Blasko, and Frenzal Rhomb, the tracklist reads more like a dream Big Day Out lineup than anything else. While Home And Hosed haven’t released a compilation album since their fourth volume in 2006, we can only wait and see if the future will see them return to compilations of this calibre.
‘Before Too Long: Triple J’s Tribute To Paul Kelly’ (2009)
While triple j had been involved in some previous artist tributes before, including the Write Your Adventures Down tribute to The Go-Betweens, and the intriguing JCDC tribute from 2005, it wasn’t until 2009 that they paid tribute to the one and only Paul Kelly. With a live recording of a concert at Melbourne’s Forum Theatre in November of 2009, and a disc full of Paul Kelly original tracks, Before Too Long was a package of musical brilliance.
With the live concert consisting of artists such as Adalita, Bob Evans, Paul Dempsey, Missy Higgins, and John Butler paying tribute to Kelly by covering a great number of his songs, it was truly one of the greatest live gigs to have hit the town that year. Thankfully it was recorded live on both CD and DVD for dedicated fans to purchase later, because it is truly one of the greatest musical tributes ever recorded.