My iPod's Albums menu was cluttered up with albums with only one or two songs. The Artists menu was cluttered up with slightly different name variations, such as "Julie Andrews" and "Julie Andrew and Rex Harrison". The answer to this mess is Compilations, or the "part of a compilation" setting in iTunes.
Read more about it here; scroll down just a bit to "this week's Ask iLounge column".
I'm already pretty compulsive about getting album art onto all of my songs. Compilations add a whole new way in which to be obsessive compulsive about fixing my iTunes.
It used to be that all you needed to do to get iTunes to pull down the Album Art for your newly ripped CDs was to set the Album Artist on your songs to match the iTunes store's Artist. Not anymore, as I discovered when I ripped a couple of new discs.
To get the Album Art directly from iTunes, you must match both the Artist track Name (Title), and Album on a single local track song to the Album Artist and Album title from the iTunes store. This isn't too difficult to do manually. Once I've ripped all the tracks, each with it's proper track name and artist, I just change the first track. I then ask iTunes to get the album art, and change the first track back to the correct Artist and Name. iTunes then applies that Album Art to all the tracks in that album.
This works well enough most of the time, but the logic behind it isn't quite right.
For instance, on the Monty Python's Spamalot — Original Broadway Cast Recording, the first track is the orchestra tuning up. The name of the track is "Tuning", and the artist is "Orchestra". This is the correct information, from the CD insert itself. But to grab the Album Art, I needed to change that track's Artist to "Monty Python", and the Album to "Spamalot (Original Broadway Cast)". Clearly, since Monty Python is merely a fictional titular construct, he cannot perform an entire Broadway musical. And of course each track has a different artist; a variety of artists perform each song.
This behavior is even more incorrect for the variety of trance and techno compilations I have. The iTunes store knows that, on Bond Beat & Bass — The Elektronika James Bond Themes, track 1 is called "Intro", by "O.T. Zehn". But iTunes won't download the Album Art until I change the track's Artist to "Various Artists".
There's a song I wanted, just one single track. I would have bought it from iTunes ($.99), but you can only get the single track by buying the whole album ($9.99). Every other song on the album is available separately, just not the one track that I want. Bastards! (I'm pertty sure the recording label is the bastards, not Apple.) But I showed them. I found a single with the track I want, and 2 remixes, for only $5 at Everyday Music, as a used import. Ha! You get nothing, corporate fat cats!
One of the links in the previous entry on album art has been shut down for now. Doh! But the Flex Version still works, and you can determine album names from there.
Fortunately, Discogs tends to have high resolution cover art for a variety of albums. I recommend that you get them while the getting's good.
I got an iPod Nano (black like a ninja) for my birthday - just a few days early. Thank you, hubby! With it comes iTunes 7, and the fabulous new CoverWorks / album art features. So now I'm obsessed with finding cover art for all my esoterica. Here are some links to help you similarly afflicted audiophiles / obsessive compulsives find nice high-res art, unlike that on Amazon.com.