Tuesday, August 9, 2011

More Rarities

I wasn't kidding when I said these Buck 65 tour CDs are addicting... so here's another one. This one is called Pole-Axed: More Rarities, released back in 2006, and according to Buck's website, compiled (he says "recorded") in Paris. Since it's labeled "rarities" not "unreleased" or "exclusives," it's not surprising that most of these have been released before. This is mostly a collection of guest spots he did on releases by artists like Stigg of the Dump, the Molemen, Governor Bolts... stuff like that. The compilation's a little uneven, but by and large, all pretty good stuff.

A couple of tracks are confusingly listed in the track-listing, but nothing actually new, so let's just clear those up real quick. "Styles of Smiles" (helpfully credited "from Granelli album"), is actually the song "Richie's Secret World" from the Jerry Granelli album, Music Has Its Way With Me, which Buck collaborated on as DJ Stinkin' Rich. And while I thought "Centaur (Gordski Rmx)" might actually by an unheard take on the song, it's actually the remix from the Anticon 12" B-side. Gordski's name appears nowhere on that record's label or cover, so I never realized it wasn't by Buck himself... but regardless, it's not version.

So, blah blah blah, that's enough about the previously released songs that us fans all already have. Let's talk exclusives. Now, even if you didn't pay attention to the dates, it's obvious this album closely followed Secret House Against the World, because all the exclusive remixes are from that album.

First up is "Rough House Blues (Masculine Fantasy Rmx)." "Rough House Blues" was always one of the better tracks on the original album, and this remix does a nice job of making it fresh again without taking away what worked about the first version. It features the same (or similar) guitar riff for the body of the instrumental, and the cuts are the same. But the piano has been changed up, and the whole thing sounds down-pitched and darker. And where the short, original mix (it's less than two and a half minutes) ends, this new mix builds into a crescendo with new instruments and non-verbal vocals.

Unlike "Rough House Blues," "Drawing Curtains" really wasn't so appealing. It was interesting, and the production (except maybe for the drums) was effective. But the fact that he shared the vocal duties with Claire Benes (who, to the album's detriment, was all over Secret House Against the World), where they constantly go back and forth, alternating words or phrases in a single sentence, is really abrasive and annoying. It was just the sort of thing that plagued Secret House - it's like he thought, "I'll put a woman speaking with a French accent all over this album and it'll sound really avant-garde, regardless of the fact that her cadence is dull and her delivery's sleepy, lifeless and sucks all the energy out of the songs like a vacuum cleaner." ...Okay, he probably didn't think that second part.

Anyway, Pole-Axed introduces us to the "Crude Version" of "Drawing Curtains." But if you were hoping for an early, temp track Buck recorded all by himself before he laid in Claire's vocals or anything, forget it. In fact, there's barely any perceivable difference at all. This version was just mastered slightly different, maybe? I dunno, every vocal and instrumental bit from this version seems to be on that version, and vice versa. Oh well.

The third and final Secret House exclusive is "The Suffering Machine (Raw Demo Instrumental)." The titling here is a bit odd, since this sounds 100% nothing like "The Suffering Machine" from Secret House... instead, it seems to be the "Raw Demo Instrumental" to another song off that album: "Drunk Without Drinking." I don't know if it's a stupid mistake, or maybe an indication that he was originally planning to record the "Suffering Machine" lyrics to this beat, or what. Anyway, unlike the two versions of "Drawing Curtains," the differences here are easy to identify; there's whole instrumental riffs and elements that are unique to this "Raw Demo" version. It's exclusive just by way of it being an instrumental for a song that was only released as a full, vocal version, anyway; but here we also get to hear a different take on the music and how "Drunk Without Drinking" might've otherwise sounded.

And then the last song on this album is probably it's biggest selling point, because it's a song that is entirely exclusive to this album, and hasn't been otherwise released in any mix or capacity. It's called "Be Careful" and features a big rolling piano loop that could almost have been taken from "Drag Rap/ Trigger Man." The lyrics are a bit lazy, but fun, starting out "be careful, werewolf, the smiling snake still slithers. Pennies in the well, I wanna sing like Bill Withers. Card carrying member: Neighborhood Task Watch, keepin' our children safe from the Sasquatch. Any last thoughts? Some spare change? A little bit? If I live to be a hundred, I will always be illiterate." It's not one of his best, but still good and enjoyable. You definitely get the sense of how this is something he recorded and couldn't find a home for, so a tour CD was a fitting place to make it a little exclusive.

At the end of the day, this is about what you'd expect from a tour CD. Not worthy of being a proper album or suitable for wide release, but as a little scrappy little bonus for the more devoted fans, it's a nice little score. Though, for the fans who have everything (i.e. when all those non-exclusives are already in our collections), it doesn't have all that much to offer... The "Drawing Curtains (Crude Mix)" is pointless, and while "The Suffering Machine (Raw Demo Instrumental)" is interesting, it's not something you'll be going back to for repeat listens. So you have to figure: you'd basically just be tracking this down for one cool remix and one new song which is good but not great. And since only 200 were made, that won't be too easy. So, more of a collector's thing, I guess.

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