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on 17 July 2005
Fountains of Wayne's gently mocking suburban power-pop is a thing to be cherished. Invidious comparisons with Weezer, Semisonic, Ben Folds (with or without his Five) and a raft of US geek-rock also-rans don't change a thing: for three albums Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger have tapped into a seemingly inexhaustible seam of three-minute guitar pop gold and left the opposition standing. These guys can't write a song without at least one irresistibly catchy guitar line, smart turn of phrase or thrilling harmony in it: their lyrics are miniature small-town soap operas with a trademark mordant wit and ingenuity which, to my mind, puts them up there with Ray Davies, Neil Finn and Difford and Tilbrook at their very best. So with this grab-bag of B-sides and rarities they have much to live up to.
It's not just Phill Jupitus who said it, it's been mentioned in just about every review of this I've seen that this band's outtakes are far better than stuff on most people's proper albums. That said, if you're expecting another Fountains of Wayne classic here, you'll be slightly disappointed. As with so many double albums, there is a great single album in here fighting to get out.
I've been a huge Fountains of Wayne fan from back in Radiation Vibe days, but a lot of this was new to me. There are some genuine gems: a new, archetypal, loser-strikes-lucky tale The Girl I Can't Forget, their cracking Oasis pastiche Elevator Up, the poignant song of love gone sour Kid Gloves and the Simon and Garfunkel-ish Places. Plus, if you're already looking forward to the festive season, skip their novelty hit I Want an Alien for Christmas (written for Hanson, who should really have taken it) and listen to the hilarious flipside The Man in the Santa Suit instead.
There are a few more top-notch tunes, then there's the rest. Even a half-decent Fountains of Wayne song is still a treat, but there's some quality control missing here. There are a few too many half-finished ideas knocked off between studio sessions, and most of the cover versions could have stayed in the vaults. Apart from a fine rendition of Aztec Camera's Killermont Street they're all pretty unremarkable, and I can't imagine how their plodding interpretation of Britney's ... Baby One More Time would have broadened their fanbase one iota had it been granted a single release in 1999 as intended. Travis did the song much better, and that was as a joke.
To sum up, it's still good, but not that good. If you only know Fountains of Wayne from Stacy's Mom, don't look on Out of State Plates as representative. If you want to find out what this great American pop band are truly capable of, go and buy a copy of Utopia Parkway and listen to it on repeat like I did. Then buy the other two albums. And only then go out and buy this.
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VINE VOICEon 13 July 2005
Having been a fan of Fountains of Wayne since the late 90s, I had some of these as singles but was still delighted to purchase this. As a collection of singles, covers and live cuts, it can't be bettered; as Phill Jupitus said on 6 Music the day it was released "it's better than most bands' proper albums" and it is. The sleevenotes are a delight as well, capturing Adam and Chris' wry humour and wit. My personal favourites are the novelty Christmas songs "Alien for Christmas" and "Man in a Santa Suit" as I'd never heard them before but the new song "Girl I Can't Forget" is a cracker as well. Buy the other 3 albums and get this as well, you won't regret letting Fountains of wayne into your life.
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on 6 July 2005
I've been a fan of Fountains of Wayne since I picked up Welcome Interstate Managers in a Borders store in the US while on holiday, and I bought this album as soon as it came out. It comprises a collection of B-sides and live versions etc which have not been on any of the previous albums. However, while you do get 2 discs and 30 tracks for your money (27 of which are real songs), there are not that many songs which stand out as special. But the covers (Baby One More Time, Can't Get It Out Of My Head and (oddly) Aztec Camera's Killermont Street) are quite well done, and give a FoW feel to the originals. Worth buying, but don't expect it to be as good as their precious albums.
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on 30 May 2007
... being a big FOW fan, but I really enjoy listening to this album. It's B-sides and rarities meaning that i already own a lot of the tracks on singles, but they're a bit too good to be confined to just that! A big mixture of tracks, bit-poppy, bit-country....

There are also a few new tracks, "Maureen" displaying their superb Power-Pop to it's very best. For me, also a stand out track is "The Girl I Can't Forget".

Probably only an essential purchase for the diehards who want all the tracks, but I recommend it to all!
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on 22 November 2008
If like me you've played the four regular Fountains of Wayne albums into the ground and you're wondering about buying this collections of 'out-takes', stop wondering and do yourself a huge favour. Get this album and start the love affair all over again.

I love this band, and by any standards this is as good as the best of their stuff (which let's face it is just about all of it).

And check out iTunes-only 'Live in Soho'
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VINE VOICEon 5 February 2008
B Sides and rarities collections can be a bit hit-or-miss. There is an adage that the true quality of a band is judged by the quality of the stuff on the other side of the record, or Tracks 2 and 3 as they are known now. Oasis and Suede were prime exponents of the class B side, and the former's B side collection sold in spades. Fountains of Wayne follow the trend of putting some outstanding tracks on their collection, but there are a couple of question marks.

Fountains of Wayne had three studio albums under their belt when they released this collection. Like all collections, if you are a hardcore fan, you already have all these, so two new songs, Maureen and The Girl I Can't Forget, are added so they don't feel hard done by. In fact, for me, these are the two stand out tracks on the album.

In amongst the pop genius, such as Karpet King and Janice's Party, appear Oasis-eqsue Elevator Up, the obligatory Country tune Today's Teardrops, and the typically wry Half A Woman, about a magician's assistant who gets sawn in half every night.

This is a double album, so even at a tenner, it's good value. If you like your American Power Pop, then this is for you.
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on 30 October 2005
Having got most of Fountains of Wayne's singles, I had pretty much all of the songs as B-sides, and the other rarities such as the cover of Hit Me Baby hiding away on my computer. But listening to this just reminds me of how fabulous Fountains' are, I mean these are the songs that didn't make it to the album, highlighting how great the others are when the rejects sound like this.
An album bought for completion by die-hards, and bought to enlighten the lives of others.
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on 28 August 2005
Fountains of Wayne have really displayed their odd originality in this CD. It consists of some fantastic songs and a few slightly not-as-good ones, but all in all I thought it was a good album. They give a witty comment on each of their songs and the booklet is filled with pictures of them. All in all, CD, and worth buying.
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