Archive for September, 2011

September 27, 2011

By Mister Marlowe

While music singles certainly get artists their face time there’s only so long he, she, or they can stay in the limelight without a full body of songs. And without that full body of work a persona is destined to look like a shallow gimmick rather than a lasting statement. Hence, albums remain the corner stone of modern musicians.

But what about those odd one offs and EP releases that are generally fan only affairs? Non-album tracks usually appear as movie soundtrack filler or spring from odd collaborations and are often best left in mothballs. However, from time to time hidden gems emerge from an artist’s leftovers and make a different statement than any previous or subsequent album.

Here are some of my favorites from the past twenty-four years. Let’s travel back in time…

Crystal Castles featuring Robert Smith – Not in Love (2010)

Though a different version of this song can be found on Crystal Castle’s second self-titled album, it is this rendition featuring The Cure’s Robert Smith that truly soars.  A cover of an early ‘80s song by Platinum Blonde, Not In Love takes the old, mixes it with the new, and shows the way for music’s future.  Quite simply, this track is brilliant.  

The Strokes with Regina Spektor – Modern Girls and Old Fashioned Men (2004)

From the single Reptilia off The Strokes’ second album, Modern Girls and Old Fashioned Men is a tremendous collaboration between two of the most interesting artists of the 2000s.

Belle and Sebastian – Your Cover’s Blown (2004)

Belle and Sebastian is a band that bored me greatly throughout the early 2000s. However, their discoteque style Your Cover’s Blown track from the Books EP is great. If Saturday Night Fever took place in the decade of The Strokes, Eminem, Beyonce, and Lady Gaga this would be the best song on the soundtrack.

Interpol – Precipitate (2001)

From their 2001 EP of the same name, Interpol’s Precipitate is the band’s very best song. It feels both too brief and epic and is one of those rare songs that makes you want to play it again immediately after it ends. In fact, it is my favorite song of the entire decade.

Oasis – Whatever (1994)

Appearing as part of the Whatever EP between Oasis’ excellent debut album and even better follow-up, the single Whatever shows Oasis doing exactly what they do best- that is simple yet snarling verse-chorus-verse pop laden with bombastic strings and a 6:30 running time. Whatever is indulgent yet familiar, breezy and memorable and one of Oasis’ best songs.

Pearl Jam – Yellow Ledbetter (1992)

Though I have never been a Pearl Jam fan I have always been a big fan of Yellow Ledbetter. Other than U2’s One, Yellow Ledbetter was probably the song I listened to most during my high school days. Was it the nearly indecipherable lyrics? The guitar solos? Or maybe it was some kind of instant nostalgia the song brought to me as I listened in 1992 and felt my youth speeding away. Whatever the case, Yellow Ledbetter is the definition of a legendary non-album track.

The Digital Underground – Same Song (1991)

This Is An EP Release is a brilliant collection of six Digital Underground songs. Featuring a handful of remixes and a pair of cuts from the little seen movie, Nothing to Lose the best of the bunch is Same Song. Featuring Tupac Shakur’s debut performance, some excellent piano noodling, and a handful of awesome rappers doing their early ‘90s west coast best, Same Song is am amazing gem from one of the very best and least appreciated rap groups of all-time.

U2 – The Sweetest Thing (1987)

Throughout their career U2 has been known to release well-received B-sides on their numerous singles. Their best is The Sweetest Thing, the B-Side to the Where the Streets Have No Name single. The song doesn’t quite fit the vibe of their The Joshua Tree album so it’s no wonder it wasn’t included. However, that doesn’t change the notion that it remains more than twenty years after the fact a fan favorite and one of their best songs.


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