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My Bloody Valentine – Things Left Behind

December 2, 2006

To be honest this collection is well due, even if it is just a bootleg, considering it’s already hard as hell to get My Bloody Valentines earlier EPs. It might as well be hard as hell just to get one disk, and by hard as hell, I mean expensive to import. It was done in Japan I believe, which makes no sense to me, but the catch of this release is that it’s a bulk of the earlier tracks the band made all in one place, all remastered. Of course it is pretty easy to argue that MBVs material got pretty reliably better as they went along, it is still essential for fans to get a look at the bands earlier stuff, if not just for the desire for history but because some of it is actually good.

To be exact, the tracks that are on here are the Geek, the The New Record By My Bloody Valentine, Sunny Sundae Smile, and Strawberry Wine EPs, all remastered. The more I think about it, the more I really believe that MBV got better as they went along. I think you could almost maybe go out on a limb and say that they peaked with Tremolo, the final EP, but obviously Loveless is the most precious release, and that came second to last. Conversely, the bands first EP, This Is Your Bloody Valentine, is sort of a punch to the kidney. The sound basically reflects a high school band that can actually write their own material, but doesn’t know how to make their own style, so they rip on The Cramps. Fuck, if you have a song named “Don’t Cramp My Style” and you sound like this, it’s pretty obvious. And yet theres really no reason to listen to listen to that EP for the music or anything, because if you wanted to listen to a Cramps lookalike, why don’t you just fucking listen to The Cramps and call it a day? It’s history, I’ll give it that, and considering that the disk still had a great deal of time in which to fill stuff, it wouldn’t have been criminal to include the seven track TIYBV, but it still sounds like something the cat gacked up most of the time, and speeding up any of original vocalist Dave Conways horrid vocals would surely result in the sound that an adolescent Alvin the chipmunk would make if he got a softball driven into his nads at 80 mph.

There is a growth between TIYBV and Geek, but it’s not too big. Instead of being treated to seven songs worth of shite, you get four songs worth of something bearable. It’s still heavily influenced by The Cramps, but instead it’s something that fans of the aformentioned band might want to check out. Which is only saying so much, because I’m not really a huge fan of The Cramps, but they have their own respectable and distinct sound. It’s just easily immitated. No Place To Go is sort of a rockabily thing, and it’s actually kind of cool. Kind of. Not that anything on this EP is really anything to scream about. Except maybe Sandman Never Sleeps. I’m inclined to scream about that, mostly at Dave Conway. But it is a funny tune, just because it’s so bad. It’s comforting to know that the band went so far from here, really. And to be honest, if you’re into The Cramps or very early JAMC, the first two tracks might be enjoyable. Not that memorable though.

And then there is The New Record By My Bloody Valentine, which actually isn’t bad at all. To be honest, until I got this a few days ago, I had never heard anything before Sunny Sundae smile besides some live takes and sound clips of the really early stuff, so this was new studio material to me. I’ll say right off the bat that this is the first good EP the band ever made. It’s just so confused though, so cutely confused. The band has now dropped their obsession with you know what band and have moved on to straightforward pop. And the bands inconsistencies have been outlined already by the fact that they still have not produced a full scale album, and they wouldn’t for two years or so, in which time they would crank out numerous EPs. Perhaps this was a lack of funds or simply lack of a grounded direction, or possibly even a lack of any obligations, but it really doesn’t matter. It’s a decent EP with some decent songs on it. The band is still far from bliss, but all four songs are enjoyable if you listen to them lightheartedly. Lovelee Sweet Darlene and On Another Rainy Saturday are my personal favorites. But it’s still apparent that the songs don’t really have the pop sensibility that would soon be gained.

And then there is Sunny Sundae Smile, which is in a way the soft transition into the band doing great things. For one thing, Dave Conway is still in the mix. Which really at this point isn’t so bad. This is pretty much the only release where his voice can actually do good, maybe even great things once or twice, but it’s apparent that he really didn’t have any career going for him or anything. The songs on this EP are all great and priceless, really the first great EP the band had. Each song is drawn out in a very structured pop context, with the then famous JAMC noise film in the background blanketing it all. The music stays true to the title and is reminiscent of teenage days of fun. The title track is probably the best one on the album and is very memorable, but once again, all of the tracks are great. Essentially what has happened here is that the rest of the band has moved on to the jangle pop and sweet pop tunes that would be presented in the Ecstacy And Wine era, just with Conway on vocals. Thankfully, his vocals don’t get in the way or anything here. This is an essential EP to have, because it’s easily the best pre-Belinda Butcher release there is. I already had this EP before I got this collection, and I can vouch for the fact that it sounds better than the original masters. Not by much though, almost unnoticable in fact, but those with a trained ear can surely hear a side by side difference. These songs sound glossier and much better, and although it might not be essential for casual collectors to get these remastered EPs just for the sound quality, hardcore collectors will enjoy this change. But once again, it’s not that big of an improvement. It’s just surprising that it’s an improvement at all.

The addition of the Strawberry Wine EP is a bit of a strange gift. Granted, it’s remastered, once again with a very small margin of improvement, but it was a mystery in the first place why this is here anyway. The Ecstacy And Wine release can be found not only on CD but also on vinyl for pretty cheap, and that contains the Strawberry Wine and Ecstacy EPs. So this is not a very difficult to acquire release at all, while The New Record By and Sunny Sundae Smile are hell to track down. Of course getting the original release of Strawberry would be tough, but the songs are not hard to acquire at all. The songs are great though and mark the first release after the reconfigured lineup. By this point in the bands history, all of the band members that would last until the bitter drawn-out end are here: guitarist/vocalist Kevin Shields and drummer Colm O’Ciosoig are still around, and now we have the added bassist Deb Googe and guitarist/vocalist Belinda Butcher. I’m not exactly sure if Deb Googe was included earlier on than this, but regardless of those circumstances, the gangs all here. And this was a pretty interesting shift, allowing not only a female vocalist into the fray but one that is also a guitarist paving the way four layered guitars in the future. This opened many doors for the band, as exemplified with the EPs title track Strawberry Wine, arguably one of the bands best songs ever. The song is a luscious layered rural pop harvest piece, also very reminiscent of the far east in many ways. You can hear Colm in the background with a stomping beat and also the signature unmistakeable drum rolls. And we now have Kevin Shields in the vocal upfront, and Belinda harmonizing all the way through. The results are fantastic. And the two other tracks on the EP are just as good. Never Say Goodbye is a heartwarming piece very simmilar to Strawberry Wine in Feeling, and Can I Touch You is classic pop. Great EP, and the remaster is appreciated, but just a very strange thing to include.

All in all, this is a release that pretty much gives you what you expect. It’s not an official release or anything and pretty much a bootleg, so it’s not from the main mans direction, but it’s still a release nonetheless. And considering that it’s not that hard to acquire, you might be better off than hunting down all the other goodies seperately. They are remastered so that is nice, but once again, the inclusion of the Strawberry Wine EP is confusing and probably unnecessary. Even with that in the mix, the disk still ends under fourty minutes. It just seems to me like they could have crammed in TIYBV and all of it’s shitty glory just because fans who want the early EPs don’t care about quality of music when they are looking for history. And it is interesting to hear Kevins guitarwork in such an early stage anyway. If there was that much space left, and I’m sure Kevin wouldn’t even want to get anywhere close to a lawsuit that would associate him with that shit, TIYBV should have been in here, not that I would really want to listen to it too much. Truth be told, this bootleg has almost all great songs, and it fulfills it’s promises. It leaves the MBV catalogue in a little less obscurity, a much appreciated effect.

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3 comments

  1. I’m really curious. . .

    Andre Obin


  2. what happened to Dave Conway?


  3. I am also curious about Dave Conway. I am estatic (happy) that MBV are once more. If we could get this economy thing right, everything would be great!!



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