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Idlewild: A Compilation

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Product Description

They Might Be Giants have pulled off the seemingly inconceivable - they have continued to work, create and evolve musically, artistically and uninterrupted for 30 YEARS. During this time, the two-time GRAMMY winning Brooklyn originals diversified into television & film music—often with award-winning results—and have 16 vital studio albums under their belt. All the while, TMBG have remained an active live act, touring across America, Europe and Australia in the last year alone. In celebration of the last 10 years of the band’s remarkable run, They Might Be Giants are releasing Idlewild, a 17-song compilation album named for their own US label, Idlewild Recordings. While Idlewild is neither a "best of" nor a “rarities” set, it is an ultravivid illustration of the bands prodigious output and singular musical vision. From the spare, folkie chug of "Words Are Like", which originally appeared as part of TMBG’s internet-only collaboration with eMusic back in the era glory days of 2001, to the propulsive, dance floor groove of "You're On Fire", from last year’s Nanobots release, the scope of Idlewild is as wide as it is beguiling.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars 6 reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars NOT a "hits" collection! 6 Jun. 2014
By S.W. - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This CD features 17 of TMBG's "Idlewild" recordings, and I think it is a really good CD. It is not a "hits" collection --- as far as I know, the guys have only put out two songs that could really be considered hits in the conventional sense of the term "hit": "Birdhouse In Your Soul" and the Grammy-winning "Boss Of Me" (from the TV series Malcom In The Middle), and those were released many years apart; also, they don't belong to Idlewild, so neither of them are here ("Birdhouse" was WAY pre-Idlewild). In fact, this CD makes no claim of being a "hits" collection or a TMBG "best-of." (It doesn't even claim to be a collection of the "best" Idlewild recordings!) It is also not another "rarities" collection, although there are some "rare" tracks included (though none that haven't turned up elsewhere before, on "Idlewild" rarities collections or in other places). The tracks were picked out by TMBG themselves.
There are a lot of good tracks here, most of them from "regular" albums that have come out on Idlewild; the "regular" albums represented here are No! (represented by "Clap Your Hands"), The Spine (by "Experimental Film" and "Damn Good Times"), The Else (by "The Mesopotamians," "I'm Impressed," and "Careful What You Pack"), Join Us (by "Cloisonné," "The Lady And The Tiger," and "Can't Keep Johnny Down"), and last year's Nanobots (by "Tesla" and "You're On Fire") . The rest of the tracks are ones that do not appear on the "regular" Idlewild albums: "Am I Awake?", "We Live In A Dump," "Brain Problem Situation," "Certain People I Could Name," and "Words Are Like," not to mention "Electronic Istanbul," which is a "techno"-style revisit of "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)"!
I enjoy most of the tracks here, as they are mostly intelligent and tuneful, and often kind of humorous (those are hallmarks of TMBG recordings), but there are a couple that I could personally do without. One of them is "Cloisonné." They included the album version from Join Us, which I don't think is as good as the "live" studio version (which was collected on the rarities set Album Raises New And Troubling Questions). The other track here that I don't really care for is "Clap Your Hands." Really, TMBG? You guys seem to like that track a lot more than I do, seeing as how you've included it on two compilations now. (The other one was A User's Guide To They Might Be Giants.)
Also, there was plenty of room of more on this CD, as each of the releases represented here are only represented by one to three tracks, and not all of the Idlewild releases are represented here. There are other tracks that I would have liked to hear on this CD.
Nonetheless, this still a really good, enjoyable CD overall. If you're unfamiliar with TMBG and/or their Idlewild material, this CD would be a good sampler of their Idlewild stuff; in fact, it would also be a good sampler of TMBG, period. And of course, if you're already a fan (like I was/am), you'll probably still want to get it (like I did!) --- that is, if you're not one of those compilation haters!
[Edit: Partly in response to a comment, I'd like to clarify something here. I consider the Cast Your Pod To The Wind CD to have been a "bonus" disc, and not part of The Else album since it was only included with the first pressing. That's how *I* see it; other people may consider it an actual part of the album.]
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Consistent Wonderfulness 1 Jun. 2014
By Thomas E. Davis - Published on
Format: Audio CD
If you're a They Might Be Giants fan and know their large catalog, I needn't tell you how great they are. If not, I envy you the mind-blowing discovery you are about to make. The dynamic duo of John Flansburgh and John Linnell have been producing delightfully quirky, unapologetically nerdy, and downright hilarious rock music for over 30 years now. Each of their studio, live, children's, and compilation albums is charming and has something to recommend it, but to get an overview of some of their best work, I suggest you pick up two albums: "Dial-A-Song: 20 Years of They Might Be Giants" and "Idlewild: A Compilation." The former is a two-disc set that anthologizes the first two decades of their recording career, while the latter does the same for their most recent decade (plus a few earlier tracks).

These releases demonstrate that TMBG have lost none of their cleverness and musicality over time. The new CD, "Idlewild," doesn't duplicate any title in the former collection, though it does include an electronic remake of "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" which, along with "Birdhouse in Your Soul," received considerable airplay and chart action back in 1990. However, these aren't greatest hits since TMBG has never had a hit in the conventional sense (save perhaps "Birdhouse" and "Boss of Me," the theme to the TV series "Malcolm in the Middle," which won them a Grammy in 2002). No, John and John want to stay true to themselves rather than make mass-market pop music; as a result, they've always flown under the radar, where they seem perfectly content to remain, a well-known secret you may now share with all of your friends.

At only 44 minutes, "Idlewild" is a bit too brief to constitute an adequate summary, costing it a star in my rating (the CDs in "Dial-a-Song" were each 75 minutes in length). The following is a complete listing of tracks with their source albums, year of release, and timing:

1. Am I Awake? - from "Indestructible Object" (2004) - 3:04
2. The Mesopotamians - from "The Else" (2007) - 2:57
3. We Live In A Dump - from "Cast Your Pod to the Wind" (2007) - 1:40
4. Experimental Film - from "The Spine" (2004) - 2:56
5. Cloisonné - from "Join Us" (2011) - 2:40
6. The Lady and the Tiger - from "Join Us" (2011) - 2:55
7. Brain Problem Situation - from "Cast Your Pod to the Wind" (2007) - 2:55
8. Tesla - from "Nanobots" (2013) - 2:04
9. Certain People I Could Name - from "Long Tall Weekend" (1999) - 3:30
10. You're on Fire - from "Nanobots" (2013) - 2:42
11. Damn Good Times - from "The Spine" (2004) - 2:38
12. Words Are Like - from "TMBG Unlimited" (2001) - 1:38
13. Can't Keep Johnny Down - from "Join Us" (2011) - 2:22
14. I'm Impressed - from "The Else" (2007) - 2:39
15. Careful What You Pack - from "The Else" (2007) - 2:40
16. Clap Your Hands - from "No!" (2002) - 1:22
17. Electronic Istanbul (Not Constantinople) - from "Album Raises New and Troubling Questions" (2011) - 2:49
4.0 out of 5 stars A Bit of a Disappointment 9 April 2015
By Kirk A. Gauthier - Published on
Verified Purchase
For years, I used to confuse They Might Be Giants with the Flaming Lips and vice versa. I've since corrected that mistake, and this compilation album has helped me to better make the distinction between those two bands. Where the Flaming Lips are a very tripped-out pop/rock powerhouse, TMBG are much more under-the-radar and intellectually engaging. They've released a number of family-friendly albums and have been releasing albums for over thirty years.

The primary reason I bought this compilation is because I fell in love with the song "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" when I first heard it during an episode of Tiny Toons. That was always my go-to song for TMBG, though I honestly never pursued their music to any degree. Still, that song left an indelible mark in my subconcious. Last year, I listened to the album Nanobots, which I enjoyed but was not overly impressed by. It was clear the band wasn't writing/performing songs in the same tempo as "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" anymore, and that's fine by me. Lots of bands change their sound as they grow and mature as artists.

Overall, I wasn't terribly impressed by this album. Had I done my research prior to purchasing it, I wouldn't have bought it at all. It was good, and I would rate it somewhere between 3.5 and 4 stars at best, but it's not something I see myself listening to with any regularity. I was expecting more of a greatest hits/best of album. Unless you're an avid TMBG fan, I don't recommend buying this album.
5.0 out of 5 stars The missing links in my TMBG collection 28 Mar. 2015
By Jim K. - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is the CD I have been waiting for to fill in the gaps in my They Might Be Giants collection. I have missed several of their relesses over the past few years. This Album contains songs I need to have. I loved "Experimental Film" when it appeared on the Homestar Runner website. Now I've finally got it along with "Certain People I Could Name", "Damn Good Times", and "The Mesopotaimians". And it all kicks off with the more recent "Am I Awake". Its quite a good deal for fans who have not kept up with TMBG latest albums.
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