Yo La Tengo are a national treasure to the United States of America. Their quality of output would be comparable to our very own (well Scotland's) Belle and Sebastian, although their styles aren't really the same, other than maybe Season of the Shark.
A brilliant, underground, lo fi, indie rock three piece that have provided us with some of the best albums ever especially since 1993.
This album contains a good cross section of their music from 1986 to their Summer Sun album. Although if you love this you will still have a treasure trove of studio albums to examine also. Their live performances are not to be missed either. They have an excellent sense of humour, including (taking the rip) synchronised dance routines to at least one song.
So the music well, its just so varied, that is the beauty of Yo La Tengo. One minute you have a catchy little pop gem. The next a rocking indie tune full of feedback (controlled not tuneless) whilst just round the corner is another folky little number. And then an amazingly beautiful ballad. All kept within the indie, underground brackets of coolness.
The only thing lacking on this particular cd is the third disc. Go out and buy the 3 disc version which includes a disc of rarities. I infact prefer the stuff on the 3rd disc to the other two discs, which are still brilliant. The 3rd disc gives that extra overview of the band, hear album tracks in an acoustic form, hear tracks that just missed out getting on albums, here covers, here their contribution to the Spongebob Squarepants soundtrack.
Trying to pick a representative (or perhaps 'greatest hits’?) selection from one of the most important 'indie’ bands ever to have graced the planet was always going to be something of a challenge. But the 26 tracks here from the 10 Yo La Tengo albums up to and including 2003’s Summer Sun (although there is nothing here from the 1986 debut Ride The Tiger) make a good stab at it. So we’ve got the likes of Sugarcube, Autumn Sweater, Big Day Coming and Tom Courtenay, plus personal favourites (and Ira mega-jams) Blue Line Swinger and I Heard You Looking, but also, going somewhat against the grain of the band’s (most obvious) Velvets influence, more diverse offerings such as the mash-ups of The Story Of Jazz and a cover of Sun Ra’s Nuclear War. For me, perhaps the most significant omission might be And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out’s pop-rock classic, Cherry Chapstick. Still, two hours’ worth of the cream from this great band for less than ten pounds should never be sneezed at and this is a great entry point for anyone still to get into the band, even at this late stage!
Also, if you can, try to get the version of Prisoners Of Love with the extra 3rd CD – A Smattering Of Outtakes And Rarities (1986-2002), since there is some great stuff lurking in what is well over an hour of additional music. Personal favourites here include two songs written for the film The Invisible Circus, Stay Away From Heaven and Weather Shy, whilst the band are at their most beautifully lyrical on Pencil Test and Almost True (outtakes respectively from I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One and And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out). Elsewhere, there is a nice rocky version of Out The Window from 1992’s May I Sing With Me, an extended ‘Kevin Shields remix’ of Autumn Sweater and a remarkable, brilliant cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams (reinvented to match the YLT take on grunge).
I knew I liked Yo La Tengo but knew hardly anything about them so I bought this CD as an introduction to the band. Yo La Tengo have such a vast back catalogue with so many varing styles and genres so this CD works perfectly as an introduction. Though personally not all the songs are to my taste but from having there entire career condensed I have been able to find the albums of Yo La Tengo that I most enjoy. The CD itself is well presented, with a fantastic sleeve booklet and a great track listing. If you want to discover Yo La Tengo then definately get this compilation!
Yo La Tengo's enduring qualities are their "ordinary people" tag and their ability to embrace varying styles of music without becoming stuck in a genre and this collection includes some of their very finest moments. There are so many good songs here that its purely subjective to pick the highlights - the shimmering beauty of "Pablo and Andrea", the great rock songs like "Drug Test" and the awesome non-vocal "I Heard You Looking" for instance. The good news is that to see this CD available so cheap is a crime that should be taken full advantage of. The bad news is there is enough material in their back catalogue to fill another anthology like this and to get hold of it all you may have to buy the rest in due course.... like I did!
Very good and varied music on this "best of" from just three musicians. Would have gone 5 stars but the Americans favourite swear word crops up lots on at least one track on side 2. Call me old fashioned (I am) but swearing is not music and distracts from the music and does not belong in my kitchen! I struggled with Joni Mitchell using one short word way back in 1972 let alone Korn littering their output! Am I going on too much again, nurse?