Compilations and anthologies usually disappoint, stringing together the "hits" with some third-rate covers and outtakes, but in the case of 89/93: An Anthology, one could make the argument that the putative "best of" outdoes any single album this band released. The best of their work is represented here, no filler, no "hits", oh wait, they didn't have any, but anyway, you know what I mean. This anthology seems put together for the hard-core fan, for the type who loves this band to death, for the kind (such as myself) who might get it into his head to sit down with a couple two, three, fifteen beers and play, say, "Moonshiner" fourteen straight times at top volume through the headphones until four in the morning.
The band's wide array of influences shines through here, from the cover of the almost pre-historic AP Carter anthem "No Depression" to the cover of the Stooges' "I Wanna Be Your Dog" to the Crazy Horse inspired romp-cover of CCR's "Effigy" to "Gun"'s "Tim"-era Replacements echoes.
I'd be remiss without devoting a sentence or two to what is my mind the most powerful song they ever recorded, "Moonshiner", which of course appears here. I could make a vain attempt to sound like a rock critic here in reaching for the necessary superlatives, but I'll instead say this: when I first heard this haunting, crushingly good cover of a traditional American folk song, the hair on the back of my neck stood up. Simple as that.
Fear not the curse of the anthology with this one - you'll get twenty one fantastic rock and roll songs to keep you company for years to come.