I promised to write about this collection 2010-02-17. Yep, almost a year ago. Anyway, here I am and here it is. You’ve been very patient. So I’ll go through it track by track, to reward your patience. You’re welcome.
We all know I love everything Sloan, and this collection is (of course) a staple in my listening queue. The original Hear And Now version of Underwhelmed chugs along beautifully. I like it almost better than the version on Smeared. But I couldn’t choose, that’s like choosing affection between your kids – who does that? Amped bops along nicely, and fuzzes out yummily too. Sleepover takes the pace back several notches, showing off the guitar pedals in their rig. Rag Doll is not an Aerosmith cover (sorry, kid), but it is another slower almost Pumpkins-ish track. Laying Blame brightens things up again, a lovely pop song.
I had Pillow Fight on a weird little compilation EP from years ago called Nevermind The Mollusks, and it was nice to find it here again. A strong rock song. D Is For Driver is a straight-on pop rocker as only Sloan can do it, the studio version of Stood Up is a bluesy rock out of the highest order (great bass, here), while the studio version of Same Old Flame is another Sloan relationship song that seems to not want to get going but, when it does, it’s as sweet as anything else they’ve done. Nice tambourine!
Work Cut Out brings out a little of their love of the Beach Boys’ sound (to me). The song sort of bangs its way through, as though it’s building trnsion, making us wait for a resolution that never really comes. Out To Lunch is a monster blues rocker. This would sound so great live! Glad To Be Here storms in hot on its heels, keeping that stadium-rocking mood going.
Summer’s The Season is more languid, organ to the fore, but a cool track nonetheless. At The Edge Of The Scene brings out the acoustic guitars for the intro (which reminds me so much of another, more famous, song I can’t quite name at the moment). Then it jumps into straight-on Sloan pop rock. Lovely. Had Enough’s piano is (probably purposely) out of tune, which suits the song’s melancholy sweep just fine. Helen is another mid-tempo rocker, the sound more fuzzed-out than usual. The demo for Pretty Together is, well, very pretty. And is it together? Of course it is.
The Russian Futurists version of Are You Giving Me Back My Love’s intro almost makes me shut it off everytime (who needs that crap?), but it’s eventually saved by acoustic loveliness and some funny plinking noises that helps me ignore those long-held notes. Ugh. Step On It, Jean takes us back out on the rock highway, blasting through another night of fuzz-rock greatness. Dirty Nails takes a long time to build (for such a short song) and, when it gets there, it doesn’t go the direction you think it will – instead of grabbing that bluesy riff and rocking on it, we get an almost 80’s pop sound. Cool. May be the first song to have back-up vocals going “slice slice slice.” Haha awesome.
Will You Ever Love Me Again? is pure Sloan pop rock which, to me, sound like an earlier effort but may also not be. I didn’t pay much attention to the chronology, here. I Thought That I Was Ready For You is one of those fabulous middle ground, beautiful harmony pop rockers that Sloan do so well. Tell Me Something I Don’t Know keeps that ball rolling, complete with chugging guitars (what a cool riff). And handclaps! Even Though is a slow song disguised as a slightly faster song, helped along by many layers of instruments and volume. Still, a lovely effort. The Best Part Of Your Life is more pure Sloan pop (love it!) and, finally, the reprise of Believe In Me brings up the rear, stomping along with acoustic guitars that become fuzzy electrics, with the occasional cut-sound electronic-sounding weird bits thrown in. Wow. And, that’s all of them.
So. Whew! What a collection. It’s huge. I love it all. And my overall impression of it? None of these are b-sides. Seriously.
Thanks heaps, Sloan. Make a million more records, wouldja?