Portishead only has two (soon to be three) full-length albums to their name, as well as a live album. Not so easily accessible is "Glory Times," a two-disc collection of alternate takes on two of the best songs on their debut. After this, it's hard to hear "Dummy" quite the same way again.
The first disc is taken up by three "Sour Times" mixes and two instrumentals. It opens with the gently jazzy "Sour Sour Times," before veering to the poignantly funky "Lot More," and the scratchy, raw "Airbus Reconstruction." The instrumentals are even more impressive: the ominous, stately "Sheared Times," and "Theme from 'To Kill A Dead Man," which has piano and electronica building up to a soaring string solo.
The second disc, on the other hand, has four mixes of "Glory Box," plus another instrumental. It opens with a basic edit and goes on to the guitar-heavy, fuzzy "Glory Box (Mudflap Mix)," and the playfully wistful "Toy Box." The instrumental is "Sheared Box," a mess of murky electronica that slowly pulls itself into something resembling melody.
"Scorn" is perhaps the star of both discs here -- one of the remixes of "Glory Box," but not the relatively cheerful one on "Dummy." It has a slow, dark melody, with Beth Gibbons slowly intoning, "Gonna give my heart away,/Leave it to the other girls to play,/For I've been a temptress too long." She sounds pretty evil here.
"Glory Times" is not a place to start checking out Portishead. New potential fans: Try one of their full-length albums, or even their live album. Not this one.
Anyone who does will end up being frustrated by the limited material. Instead, this is for fans of Portishead who really, really enjoyed "Dummy" and want to check out anything Portishead has done. And, I might add, are willing to hear the same melodies over and over, albeit in different forms.
Beth Gibbons does it all here, ranging from scratchy garage-rock vocals to the eerie she-devil voice of "Scorn." She gets a bit buried in "Airbus Construction," where it sounds like a scratchy-voiced man is trying to sing over her. But most of the time, she just adds the necessary note of wistfulness to the songs, whatever the mix is.
"Glory Times" is a good accompaniment to "Dummy," but only if the listener is already a fan. An excellent listen for fans of Portishead.