The career of Alanis Morissette has been long and winding, despite the fact that the average music fan cannot see past her 1995 breakthrough "Jagged Little Pill," the best-selling album ever by a female artist. Now, it is finally catalogued on "The Collection," a disc that spans the last decade of the Canadian singer/songwriter's music.
Those of the opinion that a hit package from Morissette would essentially be a repackaging of Jagged Little Pill have a point; she has released only a handful of hit singles since that juggernaut. Nevertheless, in paving the road that subsequently ensued she released records that were true to herself and did not cash in on her initial success as an "angry" young singer/songwriter. The result has yielded her a rabid fanbase and music that has affected many listeners in a positive way, which is hardly something to look down at.
Nevertheless, "The Collection" is a rather iffy collection that comes off sounding disjointed when it comes to summarizing the Morissette's last decade. Right off the bat, anyone who has even a minimal knowledge of her career will see that some notable singles are missing such as "All I Really Want," the swashbuckling "So Pure" from 1998's "Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie" and "Precious Illusions," a sharp radio-ready single that reached the Adult Top 40 in summer 2002 but ultimately went over everyone's heads. Also, two "personal favorites" she chose for the collection, 1999's unplugged performance of "Princes Familiar" and 2002's excruciatingly sad "Simple Together," sound completely out of their element on a retrospective. Perhaps a better idea would have been a "Hits" and "Misses" pair of releases a la fellow Canadian songstress Joni Mitchell. Still, her unforgettable staples such as "Thank U" and "Ironic" are dutifully included and have not lost their power with the passage of time.
Especially of interest are tracks making their debut on a proper Morissette record. One such is "Mercy," a selection from Jonathan Elias' 1999 project "The Prayer Cycle," an album of swirling, devotional vocals in multiple languages that featured recording artists such as James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt. Morissette sings in Hungarian (her mother's native tongue) on the track alongside the vocals of famed Qawwli artist Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, who passed away immediately before she was asked to join the project. The result is something as spine tingling as it as sophisticated. Included also is her zesty take on Cole Porter's "Let's Do It (Let's Fall In Love)" from the "De-Lovely" soundtrack. Morissette played a bit part in the 2004 film that told the life story of the late tunesmith.
There's also "Uninvited," a fan favorite that Morissette wrote for the soundtrack to 1998's "City of Angels" where she sings not only from the perspective of the main character but also her own in the face of overwhelming fame in "Jagged Little Pill"'s wake. An even stronger inclusion, however, is "Still," which Morissette wrote for 1999's "Dogma" soundtrack. In the film she played the small but crucial role of God, and thus chose to write the song from His perspective.
"I see you altering history/I see you abusing the land/I see you and your selective amnesia/And I love you still."
The biggest slice of ear candy on the disc, however, comes in the form of her take on "Crazy," Seal's classic 1991 hit. A song with a catchy groove and powerful lyrics, it is easy to see why it is one of Morissette's favorite songs.
"Crazy yellow people walking through my head/One of them's got a gun, shoots the other one/And yet together they were friends at school/But we're never gonna survive/Unless we get a little crazy."
The scarce but desirable limited edition of "The Collection" contains improved artwork and a loaded DVD with an hour-long documentary, photographs, overviews of past tour itineraries and three bonus performances including an unreleased track from the mid-90's entitled "King of Intimidation."