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Slowdive
Just For A Day (reviewed), Pygmalion, Souvlaki (re-issues)
Castle Music/Sanctuary Records Group
www.slowdive.co.uk


I suppose this is just what happens to fans of bands that never quite hit the mainstream during their own time… I spent a lot of time and money tracking down all the import EP's from Slowdive's three records, reveling in the glorious otherwise unreleased tracks, many that most folks would never hear. And then, some ten years later, Sanctuary Records comes along and re-releases all three of the seminal shoegazer band's records and includes all those hard to track down b-sides and EP tracks. On top of that, they throw on a really amazing set of performances from the band's John Peel Session. Wow. Great for the music buying public, but a bit of a slap-in-the-face to us old school diehard fans. I suppose I'll live.

Sometimes in the rush of the everyday, or in the ever-present flood of new music, we forget to take a moment to listen to those older records that remind us why we love music as much as we do. Slowdive is like that for me. Taking a few hours to bury my ears in the washes of gentle guitars and keyboards of Just For A Day is, simply put, heavenly. Hearing this music transports me back to the days of scavenging record shops for the newest imports from the other side of the pond, and finding many an aural treasure. It cheers me to relive the happy memories of ordering ten dollar import singles and eagerly waiting for the day when they might arrive so that I could hear those mysterious tracks that were not included on the full length record. Included here are all the extra songs from the Just For A Day singles, including the amazing "Slowdive", which still hits me with the full impact that it had when I originally heard it, sending shivers down my spine and tingles through my ears. The haunting "Avalyn 1 & 2", the droning and supersonic "Morningrise", the slow atmospheric rise of "Losing Today" are all included here. The band's brilliant cover of Syd Barrett's "Golden Hair" is almost indistinguishable from the original, but somehow maintains that timeless sense of purpose that many of Barrett's songs still have. And let us not forget to mention the timeless near-pop perfection of the most beautiful Slowdive track of all, "Shine".

I've got all these b-sides on their original release EPs, but the true bonus on this disc is three songs from a Peel Session that are simply stunning. The mixing on these tracks is stark and really highlights the live abilities of Neil Halstead and Co. These tracks prove just how much of that lush, swirling maelstrom of sonic loveliness was real musicianship and not studio trickery. This version of "Catch The Breeze" is worth the re-release alone, but coupled with all the other bonus material that many people have probably never heard, this is quite a treasure trove for shoegazers.

Also re-released with accompanying bonus material are Slowdive's second and third records, Souvlaki and Pygmalion. Souvlaki includes the b-sides from the EP releases, many of which were on par - if not better - than the actual album tracks. Listening to all of these records in succession leaves a true appreciation for the talent of the band and the strides they made in their sound in such a brief amount of time… and just how did they go from electronic bleeps to the haunting country-style melodicity of Mojave 3? Perhaps with a few more listens, I can better determine that.

-Embo Blake

Track Listing:
1. Spanish Air
2. Celia's Dream
3. Catch The Breeze
4. Ballad Of Sister Sue
5. Erik's Song
6. Waves
7. Brighter
8. The Sadman
9. Primal
10. Slowdive
11. Avalyn 1
12. Avalyn 2
13. Morningrise
14. She Calls
15. Losing Today
16. Golden Hair
17. Shine
18. Albatross
19. Catch The Breeze (Peel Session 4-21-91)
20. Song 1 (Peel Session 4-21-91)
21. Golden Hair (Peel Session 4-21-91)


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Mike Doughty



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