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Great...but not the 'essential' Mercury Rev
on 29 January 2007
Firstly lets get one thing straight, no Mercury Rev compilation could ever be called 'essential' providing they leave out songs like 'The Funny Bird', 'Little Rhymes' or 'Nite and Fog'! Secondly, the inclusion of 'A Drop In Time' is very strange! Apart from that, this is an excellent introduction into the weird and wonderful world of New York's greatest ever band, Mercury Rev.
The whole of their career is documented through this compilation and for the most part they have done a good job with the track-listing. The Yerself Is Steam/Boces era, back when Dave Baker was the main vocalist are well presented here with 'Chasing a Bee', 'Frittering', 'Something For Joey' and the fantastic 'Car Wash Hair'. However perhaps the most surprising inclusion is the brilliant opening track of the Rev's first album to feature Jonathan Donahue as frontman, the underrated yet brilliant See You On the Other Side. 'Empire State' is a sprawling Pink Floyd-esque 7 minute epic and features more musical styles in one song than most bands can conjure up in an entire career and beautiful use of flute! 'Everlasting Arm' from the same album is an intriguing single which sounds like it could have been plucked out of the 1940's, and is an excellent example of the daring, no compromise nature of the Rev's music.
Of their most critically acclaimed era which featured the breakthrough album Deserters Songs and All Is Dream we have some of their more well known chart singles in Opus 40, Goddess on A Hiway and the anthemic The Dark Is Rising, the latter their biggest UK hit to date. Its a real shame though that the songs I mentioned in the opening of this review were omitted, so any newcomers to the band who buy this compilation as their first Rev album, go and buy those two albums for good measure!
Bringing us right up to date is the inclusion of 3 songs from the last studio album The Secret Migration which was criminally ignored when it was released in early 2005. I was really pleased to hear 'Diamonds' opening this compilation as it is quite simply one of the most beautiful songs ever written and a real favourite of mine. 'Black Forest' is equally as good and both these tracks give you an insight into the other-worldly beauty of their last album.
So overall this is a great introduction to one of the best bands on this planet, I'll give it a strong 4 out of 5 stars as they left out 2 or 3 absolutely essential tracks. If you get a chance to see this band live then don't hesitate, on stage is where they excel.