Throwing Muses -‘Anthology’ (4AD)
Twenty-five years since the release of the first, self-titled release from Throwing Muses, the band release a career-spanning best-of, their first. The band were formed in 1983 by Kristin Hersh and Tanya Donelly – either step-sisters or half-sisters; even twenty-five years later concurrent press releases seem to contradict each other. The first American band to sign to 4AD (before The Pixies -and QED The Breeders), the band emerged in the second half of the eighties as one of the most original bands that America had ever produced. Very much part of what was dubbed ‘College Rock’ in the States, the band produced an impressive body of work over the course of ten years, calling it a day in 1996 after the release of Limbo, and reactivated in 2003. Donelly joined The Breeders for their first album, Pod in 1990, left Throwing Muses after The Real Ramona in 1991, formed Belly and went solo after two albums.
Being as this is on 4AD and not a major, this album is not a straightforward greatest hits or straightforward compilation of all the best known tracks of the band. The first CD is a selection of album cuts and EP tracks while the second CD is a selection of b-sides. So whilst ‘Bright Yellow Gun’ from University and ‘Cry Baby Cry’ from the Chains Changed EP do make the cut, tracks like ‘Counting Backwards,’ ‘Dizzy’ and ‘Shark’ aren’t here. Thing is: it doesn’t matter. I’ve got most of the Muses back catalogue on vinyl and this compilation certainly opens me up to tracks that I hadn’t thought about in a while like ‘Colder’ and ‘No Way In Hell.’
The second disc has some excellent songs too -‘Cottonmouth’, ‘Snailhead’ and ‘Red Eyes’ to say nothing of covers of ‘Amazing Grace’ (which gets a full workout), Hendrix’s ‘Manic Depression’ and The Beatles’ Cry Baby Cry’ – it’s certainly been made much of that there are two different songs on the same compilation with the same name. (If you’re a geek about these things, you may be interested to note that in terms of White album related covers that the Donelly version of The Breeders covered ‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’ while Hersh solo covered ‘Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey.’)
43 songs in one go from many bands can seem like hard work for many bands’ listeners. Thing is – this compilation is a delight from start to finish. Hopefully it will reawaken interest in a hugely deserving band.
Anthology is released by 4AD on September 19.