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Interesting Compilation Of Rarities - Not Really A 'Best Of'
on 1 January 2007
Think of this compilation more as a point of accessibility into rare Kyuss songs, as this really isn't a collection of Kyuss' most stellar work, despite being labelled the `best of' the band. However, that is not to say one should overlook this as it contains some previously unreleased songs, including live cuts and some works from the Kyuss/QOTSA split EP that was previously released on the now defunct Man's Ruin label. So really this album is for Kyuss fans, and will not really act as one of those accessible compilations that will spark a new casual fan.
Firstly to look at the positives of this release - the rarities. The opening track "Un Sandpiper" is a typically bluesy Kyuss song, held together with a great swaggering rhythm and some idiosyncratic jamming/noodling, especially by guitarist Josh Homme. The song was an instant hit for me, recalling the unmistakably fuzzy and epic journeys the glory albums "Blues For The Red Sun" and "Welcome To Sky Valley" ensued so effortlessly. The next track, "Shine" was released on a split single but is another rarity. This song is an all-instrumental affair, offering more of the trippy bluesy swagger but this time combined with a rather visceral and aggressively toned `chorus' section. Other standout rarity work includes the two-part "Fatso Forgetso" piece that was initially released on the now out of print Kyuss/QOTSA EP. On this album the shorter track is re-named "Flip The Phase" as opposed to "Phase II" on the original EP. The two tracks are excellent, especially "Phase I" with its slow-burning lead riff and a divine closing encompassing bongos and congas, chilled back vocals and trippy guitar playing. "Mudfly" is really a bit of filler, and seems a rather pointless waste of two minutes on a supposed `best of' album. But then, this really shouldn't be treated as your typical compilation, so I suppose it will have to do.
As for the live cuts, they are decent and enjoyable at first, but plagued by the inevitable poor recording. The mix seems a little too bass heavy, which might have been perfect in person live, but on the cd it creates a lot of unwanted distortion, and also the cymbal hits seem a little overpowering. But hell, Kyuss live cuts are rare, so hardcore fans will savour these.
Now for my biggest problem with the album, the choice of their `classic' material. From BFTRS they selected the excellent "50 Million Year Trip" which is a fine piece and encompasses everything one could want from Kyuss and furthermore stoner rock - big riffs, fuzzy tones, raspy vocals and an amazing trippy closing section. "Thumb" and "Freedom Run", the two other tracks I would pick from that album are also included. However they are in live format, which is fine for the Kyuss fan who already has the studio cuts, but really I would have liked to see these classic tunes in studio format to balance out the compilation better, and attract any potential new fans. The biggest disappointment selection wise is the sincere lack of material from "Welcome To Sky Valley", with only "Demon Cleaner" and "Gardenia" (which is live anyway) making the album, overlooking such gems as "Supa Scooper" and "Space Cadet". Their final LP, "And The Circus Leaves Town" is represented reasonably, "El Rodeo", perhaps the highlight of that album, is present here, but the inclusion of "Hurricane" over tracks such as "Phototrophic", "Catameran" and the jaw-dropping jams of "Spaceship Landing" bemuses me a little.
So really this compilation lacks a whole bunch of Kyuss' best works from their classic studio albums, but acts nicely as a means to obtain rare and unreleased gems.