If Christmas is near, you can be sure gift-giving is on the minds of both record company execs and their potential customers. As a result, you can be sure your favorite music outlet is suddenly, but predictably, brimming with a brand new crop of "best of" and "greatest hits" collections by performers across the music spectrum.

The albums range from the long-awaited to the premature. Many star performers have come out with career- or era-spanning packages, including hit-making bands like Aerosmith, Bon Jovi and INXS and impactful singer-songwriters like Bob Seger, Sting and Bob Dylan.Much of the older music has been "digitally remastered" for the CD age, and often the packagers throw in a fresh song or two that may or may not be "new hits."

In today's After Hours section, Deseret News staff writers critique some of the latest single-disc compilations. The next Weekend Extra entertainment section will follow up with a look at the season's crop of boxed-set anthologies.