Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Compilate Me

Yes! More long lists of albums I'm catching up on! Terrible for you (the reader), great for me (the blogger). The beat goes on, in semi-alphabetical order:
  • Big Dipper - Supercluster: The Big Dipper Anthology (2008 - 3 CDs). Denis gave me Heavens and Craps to listen to, which led to this. This anthology is almost everything they ever recorded (the two albums mentioned above plus the EP Boo-Boo; only the album Slam is not included), plus bonus tracks, PLUS an entire unreleased album! All for under $20 as well. If you're a big fan like Denis, you get Boo-Boo, bonus tracks, plus the unreleased album that you never owned: quite a good deal. If you're just getting to know them, like me (although I did know The Embarrassment, Bill Goffrier's former band), you get most of the band's output, including gems like "She's Fetching," "All Going Out Together," "Man O' War," "Loch Ness Monster," "Younger Bums," and the epic "Faith Healer." Incidentally, those are just the highlights for Disc One (!). This collection grows on you as you give it more listens.
    Verdict: Highly recommended. As I wrote this review and listened to this album, it climbed from the CD Rack into my Portable CD Case, and eventually Disc 1 (
    Boo-Boo/Heavens) ended up in my Car CD Changer. Compilation index rating is high value: low on the longtime fan ripoff because of the price point versus the amount of rare/unreleased material AND the extensive liner notes (they have band comments on every song as well as commentary on the unreleased album), extremely high on the casual fan rating. Three CD's for $18... that is simply perhaps the best deal ever. Take them up on the deal, assuming there are any left (there were only 5,000 copies made).

  • The Godfathers - Birth, School, Work, Death: The Best of the Godfathers (1996 - 1 CD). The title track is what brought me here; they don't stray far from it with their other songs. I like the sound, although it is a bit repetitive. Less edgy rockabilly indie rock. I'll listen to it in the future.
    Verdict: Recommended if you like "Birth, School, Work, Death." Compilation index is low value for the collector, high for the average fan -- it's all the latter will ever want or need. CD Rack.

  • Guided by Voices - Human Amusements at Hourly Rates (The Best of) (2003 - 1 CD). Thanks for Scott for this one. Matador blows up the Compilation Index again (they are responsible for the Big Dipper anthology too) with this "Best of" CD, released at the same time as the "Best of" box set. This is what I am sure the record business calls a "worst practice": by giving consumers a choice, you immediately split your potential buying audience, as well as instigate the process of actual thought. For example, let's say Fred hears that GBV is releasing a greatest hits album. Fred's a "completist" (i.e., must own everything Bob Pollard and GBV have ever done, including things like one of the 200 vinyl singles they gave to friends in 1983, or copies of a "bootleg" of Pollard's piano recital at age 11), and thus his salivary glands are immediately activated; typical record policy is to keep him in this frothy, frenzied state until he and his hard-earned cash are soon parted. The "box set vs. single CD" options interrupts this state -- confused, Fred looks at the actual merits and tracklists of each and begins to use that part of the brain that controls rational thought as part of this process. Fred will then actually consider not only whether to get the box set or the single CD, but also the possibility that (gasp!) it's not worth the money because he has everything already. For me, this CD is just my speed: great overview with some tasty tunes. (As for Fred, he reluctantly give in to rational thought: it really wasn't worth it to get the either the single CD or the box set. However, in a moment of weakness, impulse control once again clubbed rational thought over the head with the notion that he needed all of GBV's music in ONE place [how convenient!], that he needed to support the band [how altruistic!], that he needed the 35-page deluxe booklet [how nerdy!]... basically, that he needed it. Six months later, he sits staring at the dusty box set, wondering what he was thinking.)
    Verdict: Recommended. High value for the casual fan; the hardcore fan will want the box set.
    CD Rack.

  • John Lennon - Lennon Legend (2007, 2003, 1997 - CD, DVD). What I want out of a John Lennon compilation is the best of the best of his solo work plus his half of Double Fantasy. I'm in luck! This is exactly that. It is TERRIBLE, however, that they are selling essentially the same compilation for the third time in the last ten years; undoubtedly they will sell a slightly repackaged version again in 2013.
    Verdict: Recommended if you fit my criteria. Compilation ripoff factor is off the charts on this one -- any time you keep trotting out the same horse with a different colored saddle you know it's not right. The DVD clips are cool.

  • Orange Juice - The Glasgow School (2005 - 1 CD). Edwyn Collins' old band. Things I liked associated with this album: 1) Collins' song "A Girl Like You," which he did solo; 2) the sentiment of the title The Glasgow School; 3) the joke that "O.J." is short for guilty. Things I liked on this album:

    Verdict: Not recommended. Pile of Death, which (as you might of guess) means the Compilation Index is pretty much at 0.

  • Jay Reatard - Singles 06-07 (2008 - CD, DVD). I mentioned Jay Reatard here, but this is a better starting point. It's more consistent yet more varied musically, and it's catchier yet darker. It's where I'd start -- a very nice compilation.
    Verdict: Highly recommended. Portable CD Case. Compilation index is assumed to be high value, as I believe that only four tracks are available on CD at the moment, while at the same time it's a good overview.

  • Siouxsie and the Banshees - The Best of Siouxsie and the Banshees (2002 - 1 CD). Ron got me back into Siouxsie after declaring "Dear Prudence" better than the original version by The Beatles (heresy!) and "Cities in the Dust" to also be "desert island CD worthy." Then I began taping 120 Minutes on VH1 Classic (not the original shows, which is too bad, but pop-alternative "hits" from the 80's and 90's) and realized there are actually a ton of tunes I really like by them.
    Verdict: Highly recommended. High on the ripoff scale for hardcore fans, but great for an overview of some excellent songs. A few mis-steps ("Peek-a-Boo" comes immediately to mind) keep this out of the Car CD Changer, and instead in the Portable CD Case.

  • Linda Thompson - Dreams Fly Away (1996 - 1 CD). Linda Thompson has an unbelievable voice. This compilation showcases that for sure, and it's the best album I've heard of hers. I was shocked at the amount of content that was unreleased on this compilation; that gives it value for completists and casual fans.
    Verdict: Recommended, and scores great on the compilation index. CD Rack.

  • Elliott Smith - New Moon (2007 - 2 CDs). There are certain artists that, on principle, I hate. Not dislike, not grudgingly acknowledge as "great, but," not "willing to listen to but not really into." Hate. I fundamentally hated Elliott Smith and his approach to music. Would politely listen while quietly seething underneath the surface. Hate. And the only way I even was willing to listen to this album was because of Sean -- he forced it down my throat. Bought a copy for me (and one for Scott), packaged it up, and sent it our way because it moved him so much. Love. I open the package. Hate. I listened to it. Confusion. Then again. Grudging acceptance -- no, more than that. I cannot bring myself to say it -- it's... it's... sigh. Alright, I can't deny it. It's... love. Love. Love, love, love. If I can love it, so can you.
    Verdict: Highly recommended. Would be a Car CD Changer album if it were a little more up tempo. Love.
- Snilch

1 comment:

Seano said...

I just wanted to add that I bought it for Snilch and Bish on the day it came out - along with my copy - because it Elliott Smith's family donated the first $200,000 of the profits to Outside In, a non-profit organization that provides transition help for homeless kids as well as a low-income clinic (free for street folk) for the community. The fact that it was incredible was certainly an addition. I'm just glad it worked and helped point out to Snilch just why I love Smith's work so much (Bish was already more open to him, having admitted to enjoying the first album)

Though I can understand how it'd annoy th' Monstah... :)

- Th' Grouchy Marxist