Slowdive – Blue Day

September 11, 2006

Man, being a fan of bands that have so little material is hard. It really is. You have to cling onto every little bit you can get. Some bands are great and yet still have a ton of material. That really feels great. To love a band that has a lot of material, even if a lot of it is mediocre, is a great feeling because there is always something to fall back on. When the hits get old and the bad songs get you down, theres the middle ground to fall back on, and it’s one of the most relieving things a fan can have. What means more, a band that consistantly pulled off fantastic material for the span of only a few albums, or a band that pulled off fantastic material in greater numbers but less consistantly? It’s hard to say. But I really can’t stress it enough… When one of your favorite bands only has so much material, even if all of it is great, it feels lonely sometimes, even lonelier if the band isn’t well known.

When it comes to Slowdive, an admittedly low key and somewhat short-lived band, there just isn’t too much material. But you have to remember that the band never really broke up so much as took a completely different turn and made a transformation from the dark, ethereal, and stormy approach to a more country and pop related field. So yeah, you can go off and listen to Mojave 3 and call it a day, but it’s not going to feel the same. Slowdive is a band that still strongly hovers in great strength, and a point of view shift isn’t going to change that. But no matter what Mojave 3 does, there will always be some type of relief in the releases of Slowdive. If you really look hard enough, there can be some very interesting live stuff and other stuff in low quality, but the bulk of the bands material can be divided up into four groups. The first three groups would be of the bands three albums, Just For A Day, Souvlaki (including the 5 EP, three tracks of which were included on the extended cut of Souvlaki anyway), and Pygmalion, the latter of which I reviewed not too long ago. The last group would be everything in between, all of the b-sides and material from the EPs the band made that kind of jump all over the place. The band actually had a considerable amount of EPs, and when you think of how well planned out and themed each album was, everything else the band made was really of it’s own world. Of course it’s Slowdive, but when you aren’t on a schedule and you don’t have to mix that goddam album, you can kind of get out whatever feelings you want and write whatever you want without having to fit a theme around it.

Before Slowdive decided to get serious with their music and start recording albums, they were a band that played for fun. They took a lot of influence from some earlier ambient bands and a lot from My Bloody Valentine too. You can really hear the Brian Eno and the MBV when you listen to some of the earlier tracks. What Blue Day is is essentially a collection of all the best material that was released on EPs before Just For A Day. So decidedly the tracks are all from their own little worlds because they were never tried to fit together coherently or anything. But that is good, because it makes each song even more of a treat. Keep in mind though, that the problem with this compilation is that it stands in obscurity. There was only so much Slowdive material that was even released before Just For A Day.

In fact, there were only three releases; the Slowdive, Morningrise, and Holding Our Breath EPs collectively contain a grand total of ten tracks. Blue Day has seven. Really, the importance of the three that are missing aren’t that vital. Avalyn II is an extended version of the already included Avalyn I. Catch The Breeze is already included on Just For A Day anyway, and there is no reason to include an A-side in such a collection. And Golden Hair is a Syd Barret cover that is pretty good but not as essential as the rest of the material, as it’s construction is a tad shakey. But fans who would go far enough to get Blue Day would probably be worried about the sake of completion anyway, so it would be annoying not to have those two songs. Granted, Golden Hair can also be found on the 2004 Best Of compilation Catch The Breeze, but while the double disk release isn’t exactly hard to find, it is still grossly expensive, catching a price of over twenty dollars where ever you could find it. It is a bloated release considering that the three albums might as well be bought anyway. So while the lack of Avalyn II and Golden Hair is really not that troublesome, it is still annoying. Beyond that, only so many copies of Blue Day were made. There were several packaged with Souvlaki on it’s first release for whatever reason, and then it was commercially released in Japan and several European countries. So the only way you can really get it is as an import. So what is more worth it? Tracking down the three EPs in their entirety and getting all of the tracks, or finding this rarity and having almost all the tracks that are worth having? That is really a decision you would have to make on your own. And you could also further make the arguement that the 2006 re-release of Just For A Day contains everything on this disk plus all three missing tracks and even more. But I would say this collection is worth the effort it takes to find it, just because it is an antique of sorts and has seven completely ingenious songs.

As far as the music itself goes, every song is brilliant. And not just great, I mean brilliant. You can make some arguements for songs on Just For A Day being shakey and not so good, but all of the bands music from before Just For A Day is grand. The song Slowdive is one of the bands indesputed best, a happy and optimistic take on a dream. Avalyn I is a gorgeous melancholy instrumental. Morningrise is a soaring piece where the MBV influence really shows. She Calls is very much in the vein of Slowdive, a more down to earth sexual glossy song. Losing Today is a dark and beautiful elegy. Shine is almost a lullaby, and is very simmilar to one of the bands later hits “Machine Gun.” And finally, Albatross might be the disks weakest tune, and even then it is an interesting venture, experimenting with different beats and approaches.

So… Really if you like Slowdive you will need these songs somehow. I guess I really wrote all this in response to the songs, not any particular release. But Blue Day is well worth it if you can manage to get your hands on it. It is rare and therefore worth the money, and any really hardcore Slowdive fans wouldn’t be beyond trying to track it down. But really, it’s easier to just get the Just For A Day re-release, which has not only a better sounding Just For A Day but a bonus disk filled with almost all really early Slowdive recordings. The only things missing are the Beach Song and Take Me Down recordings, which are very MBV inspired and poorly recorded vintage Slowdive that was scrapped for the Slowdive EP, and then maybe a few other really low key recordings. So if you are planning on getting Just For A Day or Souvlaki, GET THE RE-RELEASES. GET THE RE-RELEASES. GET THE RE-RELEASES. Even if they are more expensive, you won’t get bitten in the ass later. Slowdive was a band that was still inspired even in their earliest days, and while you really can’t get much better than the actual albums, the odds n ends are essential too, and if you like any of the albums, it’s worth getting them in some way.


One comment

  1. I’m lost in slowdive!!


    great article!

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