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Deserter's Songs


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Amazon's Mercury Rev Store

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Product details

  • Audio CD (29 Sep 1998)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: V2 North America
  • ASIN: B00000BKI4
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 252,054 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Holes
2. Tonite It Shows
3. Endlessly
4. I Collect Coins
5. Opus 40
6. Hudson Line
7. The Happy End (The Drunk Room)
8. Goddess On A Highway
9. The Funny Bird
10. Pick Up If You're There
11. Delta Sam Bottleneck Stomp
12. Track 12

Product Description

BBC Review

Given their current position in the music industry picture as main stage players at the world’s most highly regarded festivals, it’s easy to forget just how from out of nowhere Deserter’s Songs was. NME’s album of the year in 1998, its makers hadn’t registered on many radars with the preceding See You on the Other Side, and the disappointing performance of said 1995 album had left vocalist Jonathan Donahue, fronting the group for the first time, in a dark place. He couldn’t have predicted how their next long-player would be received.

Deserter’s Songs emerged with little initial fanfare, but soon its beautiful constituent pieces – shimmering psychedelic pop, immersive indie-rock, spectacularly engrossing passages of sumptuous instrumentation – pricked ears in the direction of the New Yorkers. As a whole, the album doesn’t actually hang together that brilliantly – 2001’s All Is Dream is arguably better conceived – but when you’ve got stand-alone songs like Holes, Opus 40, Delta Sun Bottleneck Stomp, The Funny Bird and the gorgeous Goddess on a Hiway in your aural arsenal, who cares that the comparative filler’s not quite up to scratch?

Of the aforementioned offerings, opener Holes sets a fine tone for the best of what follows – woozy, romantic, achingly earnest in its fine articulating of deep emotions, it’s the sort of precedent-setting song that ends many a band’s (reputedly) finest album with the very first track. But there’s better to come here, amazingly, the pinnacle of the record’s impressive pulling on the heartstrings arriving with Goddess on a Hiway. Listening a decade after its original release, its impact hasn’t dimmed in the slightest, Donahue’s plaintive cry that “I know it ain’t gonna last” stirring something untouched by the majority of allegedly affecting outfits, something sitting in the very depths of the soul. It’s a stunning track, still – relatively rudimentary of verse-chorus-verse arrangement, but captivating of execution. It remains Mercury Rev’s most vital recording.

That line – “I know it ain’t gonna last” – could have heralded the end of the band. So disillusioned were they with the reception of See You on the Other Side that Deserter’s Songs was released as something of a swan song. How plans changed: as a direct result of subsequent across-the-board acclaim, Mercury Rev were elevated to mainstream status and have enjoyed considerable exposure ever since. This collection is more than a catalogue classic – it’s the catalyst for a career that might never have been. --Mike Diver

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 3 Sep 2000
Format: Audio CD
"What was all that about?"was my first reaction when I heard this album, I couldn't believe how hyped it was.But as experience has taught me before the best albums are the ones you initially hate so I listened a few more times still not really getting it,but on the umpteenth listen I started to notice it's charms no longer was the lead singers voice annoying and with each subsequent listen it get's better and better and I even like the odd incidental tracks which litter the album, this now ranks alongside OK computer and Moon Safari as one of my favourite albums.It also has the strangest hidden track i've ever heard at the end and I love that too.Play this one full blast with the window open and look at the bewildered faces on people walking past.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By There'd be plenty of stars And not too many on 28 Feb 2007
Format: Audio CD
Arrived hear via The Flaming Lips & now I don't wish to desert this box of delights for some time....maybe it's because i'm working retrospectively ,as many music lovers tend to do & following the theme of finding an artist~song~sound~look~hook that stimulates & I've found Mercury Rev's Deserter's Songs has everything I could wish for...I must admit on the first time of playing the album I was dissapointed,I had just been playing The Lips Yoshimi & how do you follow that?...By playing this album over & over . It has certainly broadened my musical taste as Johnathan Donahue is gifted at finding a beautiful line,taking control & expanding it into something wonderful.Deserter's Songs takes you on a musical journey thro' folk pop softrock jazz blues classical to avant garde.If you are reading this then you are interested in Mercury Rev,invest in the album,play it over & over & enjoy it as one of the most beautiful & complete albums ever produced.Tell me what you think about the trax Holes & Endlessly.I believe Deserter's Songs is exceptional ,so much so,I bought it twice.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 7 Feb 2000
Format: Audio CD
This is an album that you hear and say "they can't be serious, can they?" as you listen to the singer's strangely cartoon like voice and impossibly twee mellotrons and ultra high strings. It's only when you listen to the complex orchestrations that you begin to realise this band is indeed serious. "Deserters Songs" sounds like candy but tastes like something darker, giving us glimpses of an american landscape full of despair, humour and hope. It's an emotional ride, and has the feeling of albums like OK Computer and Achtung Baby, that drift along and leave hundreds of layers of meaning, saying far more than they suggest but never appearing to be pretentiously profound. It even ends with a good ol' downhome footbanger in Delta Blues Stomp, that lifts the spirit and leaves you with a reflective, exciting and technically superb album.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 Mar 2000
Format: Audio CD
Every so often an album comes along that changes your listening tastes. Bought this after reading an on-line review on some American activists site.
Simply, this album is sublime. Full of metaphors of escapism the crashing guitars compete with re-workings of modern, classical string arrangements.
It's American underground's "Screamadelica"
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 Mar 2000
Format: Audio CD
Few albums have ever left you wrapped in emotion all the way through. Whether you listen to the classically-haunting "Holes", the gospel parody "Opus 40", or the amazingly infectious "Goddess on a Hiway", the listener is stuck for the entire 45 minutes. After the drum-drenched upbeat eccentricity of "Delta Sun Bottleneck Stomp", the listener really doesn't know whether to feel hysterically happy or insanely depressed. This album is one of the most beautiful LPs ever written, if only for the permanent enigma of why it was written. In a few words, "Deserter's Songs" is freeze-dried emotion.
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Format: Audio CD
Mercury Rev's 1998 album was undoubtably a turning point, a massively influencial re-envisioning of the pop-rock form that inspired countless imitators. Marginally pre-dating The Flaming Lips' equally stunning The Soft Bulletin by about one year, in my view it began a protracted period of American dominance in indie rock (Radiohead excepting) that remains a decade later. Probably the album for which the term psych rock was invented, Deserter's Songs eschewed the orthodoxy of the period for lush orchestrations, faux-naive vocals, lullaby-like melodies, and kaleidoscopic harmonies. Unlike their British counterparts, their music favoured awe-struck wonder and whistful romanticism over gloom-laden paranoia or the back-to-basics approach of the (slightly later) post-punk revival. Psychedelic without being prog, but too weirdly off-beat to be mainstream, Deserter's Songs had a then unfashionably wide-screen grandeur that enabled the alt-rock scene to once again embrace a broader sonic pallet. Replete with horns, piano, violins and bowed saw the album has influenced countless acts from The Earlies and Animal Collective to Midlake and Grandaddy. A majestic, wide-eyed classic.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By m.burton@videonetworks.com on 9 Nov 1999
Format: Audio CD
A haunting collection of music.
Takes your mind on a laid back trip through a wonderfully textured sonic landscape. From the opener "Holes" through to the "post last track noise" this album woos with brilliantly layered sounds, including some of the best mellotron playing I've heard in a long time.
Only one gripe. The final track - "Delta Sun Bottleneck Stomp" -, though still a good track, with its upbeat tempo just doesn't seem to fit in with the rest of the album. It's not written by the same member of the band as the rest of the material, so that's to be expected. Just seems like an odd inclusion. Maybe to wake you up after drifting along to the rest of the album?
Why is it that bands who have ALMOST hit rock bottom with excesses of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll , but recovered, seem to be capable of producing quality in their work which was not so apparent in previous offerings?
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