June 17, 2012
I always was your girl...
One of my all-time favorite bands, Everything But The Girl, have lovingly remastered and repackaged their first four albums for re-release on the Edsel label. If you have the records already, pony up for them again: the remastered sound is superb, as are the bonus tracks and packaging. Not a surprise given that Ben and Tracey participated so heavily in the process of archiving their early history. They discussed the project, which actually was not their idea, in The Guardian this weekend.
These albums are, of course, very different sonically from their last two albums (the mega Amplified Heart was somewhere in between). For me, the remasters capture an amazing period in British pop: one in which vulnerability, intelligence, wit and DIY spunk were celebrated. With that, here are a few album cuts and rarities worth getting if you decide to pick and choose tracks online. For a far more comprehensive review, read Joe Marchese's at Second Disc.
Ben and Tracey launched their band with some utterly perfect songs, especially the single, Each And Every One. No drunken party jams for EBTG, these tracks are as smart as anything they've done in their 40's.
Each And Every One
Flawless. Why this song, about a woman plagued by insecurity as she ponders her boyfriend's ex, has not been covered a thousand times, I don't know. Adele, are you listening?
Gun Cupboard Love
Love Not Money
When All's Well
Something so utterly British about this. Or maybe it's just the line "my love is like cathedral bells."
This Love Not For Sale
Yes! A cover of The Pretenders song
Charmless Callous Ways
The recording of Tracey's voice with a nice bit of airy reverb is lovely. 1:55 gem.
Easy As Sin
B-side that appears in two versions on the remasters: this is the rare Ben Watt vocal.
Baby The Stars Shine Bright
Come On Home
Appears in multiple versions, all great. Big strings launch a much grander sound for the group. And a new retro bob haircut for Tracey.
Don't Leave Me Behind
Cross My Heart
B-side of Bacharach classic. Tracey's voice changed over the course of their first 4 records. On this she sounds much as she does today.
My favorite of the early albums is Idlewild, the one which inaugurated my love the for the band when I was in college. This jazz-folk-pop hybrid is solid all the way through, but if forced to pick some of the best, I'd choose:
Love Is Here Where I Live
The first song I ever loved by EBTG, about not quite tempted to cheat on her lover
These Early Days
There's also a subtle remix of this on the album as well
The Night I Heard Caruso Sing
Ben Watt's finest moment and one of the EBTG's most moving ballads
Lonesome For A Place I Know
Tears All Over Town
Living On Honeycomb
A b-side that's in my top ten fave EBTG songs.
How About Me
Dyed In The Grain
How did this not make the album?
Hang Out The Flags
Sleek jazz precursor to their follow-up LP, Language of Love.
These re-masters set a standard for a slew of upcoming remasters by the likes of Jimmy Somerville/Bronksi Beat, Breathe and Kirsty MacColl. Tracey's next project comes this fall: A Christmas album.