Best-of collections are usually a means to bleed the proverbial royalties turnip, but some artists actually offer greatest hits packages as a record of posterity.
Cocco’s last hurrah, the clumsily titled Best + Ura Best + Mihappyoo-kyokushuu, falls somewhere between a greatest hits package and a boxed set with its thoroughness.
Rather than just collect the 11 singles that marked here brief but prolific career, Best + Ura Best + Mihappyoo-kyokushuu supplements those singles with b-sides, a few album tracks and five previously unreleased songs.
In the four years she recorded albums, Cocco produced enough extra tracks on her singles to become something of a fifth album. Recognizing that not everyone would be so thorough to buy her entire discography, Cocco included some of those extra tracks on Best.
Some of those extra tracks are every bit as good as the songs that eventually made her albums.
“Drive you crazy”, with its matchbox twenty vibe, pointed to a creative direction Cocco could have effectively pursued. “Sweet Berry Kiss” reflects its title quite well.
“Guuwa” starts off quietly, only to end on a haunting note, while “Again” shows Cocco at her most introspective.
The same can’t quite be said of the five mihappyoo-kyokushuu, or “unpublished songs”. Of those tracks, only “Mokumaoo” and “Ibara” stand out. “Mokumaoo” offers the kind of majestic choruses that marked “Hane” and “Yakenogahara”, while “Ibara” has a hard rock groove that’s totally Cocco.
The three other unreleased songs — “Amefurashi”, “Shiawase no Gomichi” and “Kutsushita no Himitsu” — tend to disappear into the background.
To round out the disc, Cocco included a few tracks from her overlooked debut album, bougainvillia. Although “Isho” and “Hoshi no Umareru Hi” are both great songs, one of them could have made room for “Hakobune”, a b-side to “Hane ~lay down my arms~” that’s as beautiful as anything Cocco has written.
Perhaps the most surprising gem in Best + Ura Best + Mihabbyokyoku is “Hiyokobuta no Theme Part 2”, a TV theme Cocco recorded for NHK. The light-hearted track has a playful vibe not quite captured in Cocco’s other children’s song.
Unfortunately, only the first pressings of Best include the track on a CD-3 that includes a version of “Nemureru Mori no Oujisama ~haru, natsu, aki, fuyu~” originally released on Cocco’s debut indie release.
In all, Best + Ura Best + Mihappyoo-kyokushuu is a must-have for even the most casual of Cocco fans.