Album Review – Throwing Muses


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.

Forthcoming from Throwing Muses


Throwing Muses are preparing to release a compilation entitled Anthology in September. Chosen by the band, the first disc is more of the band’s favourite numbers, while he second disc is b-sides and rarieties.

According to legend, when they wrote ‘Dizzy’ they felt it was too commercial and it is sorta conspicuous by its’ absence; but I am made up that ‘Cry Baby Cry’ has made the cut, as has ‘Bright Yellow Gun.’

The tracklisting is as follows:

Disc One:
1. Garoux Des Larmes
2. Finished
3. A Feeling
4. Marriage Tree
5. Fish
6. Hate My Way
7. No Way In Hell
8. Colder
9. Tar Kissers
10. Mr. Bones
11. Limbo
12. Summer St.
13. Furious
14. Bright Yellow Gun
15. Pretty or Not
16. Flying
17. You Cage
18. Two Step
19. Vicky’s Box
20. Mania
21. Cry Baby Cry

Disc Two
1. Hillbilly
2. Same Sun
3. Amazing Grace
4. Cottonmouth
5. Cry Baby Cry
6. Manic Depression
7. Snailhead
8. City of the Dead
9. Jak
10. Ride Into The Sun
11. Handsome Woman
12. Like A Dog
13. Crayon Sun
14. Red Eyes
15. Tar Moochers
16. Serene Swing
17. Limbobo
18. If
19. Heel Toe
20. Take (Live)
21. Finished (Live)
22. Back Road (Matter of Degrees)

(The two appearances of ‘Cry Baby Cry’ are not necessarily what you think: the first disc is the track that appeared on the ‘Chains Changed’ EP; the latter is the Lennon/McCartney song that appeared on the b-side of ‘Not Too Soon’)

If you’re based in Scotland, you may be interested to know that Chief Muse Kristin Hersh is appearing at Edinburgh’s Cabaret Voltaire on August 18; she is also appearing at the Edinburgh International Festival on August 16. It is also hinted at – in the press release I received today from 4AD- that there may be more Muses live dates too…

Enjoy the following