Huzzah, the My Bloody Valentine stuff has all been re-released. Some people are wetting themselves over the re-issues of Isn't Anything and Loveless, their re-mastering affording Kevin Shields another opportunity to tinker away at them. For me, though, the versions I have of those two are fine and do not need replacing. The actual excitement here for me was the collection of the classic MBV EPs together onto two CDs (called EPs 1988 - 1991). And they did it properly, including on this all the tracks from the relevant EPs, including the ones that were also appearing on the reissues of the albums. And they threw in some extra tracks too, of which more later.
Listening to the EPs again transports me back to the magical era that was the years 1988 to 1991. If you are my age then there is an element of nostalgia to immersing yourself in music from the time when you were beginning to explore less conventional music, but there is more to that with this. This stuff is genuinely great, and when you put it with the other bands who were pushing the guitar music envelope at the time (Spacemen Three, Loop, the Telescopes, etc.) it is hard not to think that this genuinely was an especially creative period.
With the EPs themselves, there maybe is a certain progression from one to another, though this can be overstated. 'To Here Knows When', the lead track off theTremelo ep, is a bit out there, but some of the other tracks on that disc had a kind of avant rock attack that would not have seemed out of place on its predecessors.
One of my friends mentioned on some social media website (dread phrase) that he had acquired this album and was looking forward to listening to this on headphones for maximum aural pleasure. That is not my recommended way of approaching it - I say instead to blast out it out speakers at high volume. Not at the stupid levels of volume Kevin Shields favours when playing live, obv. (if you are sitting at home listening to music while wearing earplugs you are perhaps not the brightest, but I reckon these recordings need a good bit of volume and they need the sound quality that comes from bouncing round the walls rather than going straight into the ears.
Oh yeah, the bonus tracks. Some people were very excited by them appearing, one obsessive MBV fan I know mentioning that even he had not heard one of the songs before. There are not sleevenotes with this compilation so I cannot tell you when the tracks come from - were they leftovers from the albums, or were they songs recorded for the EPs that did not make the cut? What I can say is that they are pleasant enough to listen to without being essential. They round off the second disc nicely but they do not seem to include anything that will become a new favourite MBV track. The extended version of 'Glider' is nevertheless of particular merit.
One final small thing about the bonus tracks. One of them is called 'Instrumental No. 2', and it features the same programmed drum machine pattern as Madonna's 'Justify My Love' and a Public Enemy track ('Security of the First World'?). When 'Justify My Love' came out I assumed that its producer (Lenny Kravitz or William Orbit or someone) had just sampled the Public Enemy record, but now I am wondering if this might be a preset on one of the drum machines popular in that era. What do you think?
An inuit panda production