Some albums benefit from a remaster. 'Graceland' by Paul Simon was one. Some, however, don't. Chungking's ruining of their album "We Travel Fast" only a year after its first release was nothing short of scandalous. "Whatever And Ever Amen" thankfully falls squarely in the former category I'm happy to say. Before we get into this, I'm not going to talk about the extra tracks, I'm afraid. Mostly because I haven't listened to them properly yet. So why, I hear you ask, am I bothering at all? Well, the reason is this - I first bought this back in 2000, after a friend of mine played me "Fair" or - as she called it - the one where they sound like chickens. Let's just say it's had to compete with 1000+ CDs in my collection, and has rarely been back in the rack. It's taken me through every stage of my difficult early twenties since then, the sad times (especially "Evaporated"), the happy times ("One Angry Dwarf", "Fair") and the Go Away I Hate Everyone times ("Song For The Dumped"). So why, then, am I bothering to review an album I've already heard literally hundreds of times before? Well, the remastering and remixing (don't be alarmed - there's no Armand Van Helden here) of this album is so good, it's breathed completely new life into the recording. You'll have to trust me. Yes, I know it's hard to believe that new life could be breathed into a CD barely out of short trousers (it was originally released in '97, I think), but every instrument has been beautifully extracted, polished with a bit of Brasso and reassembled with such care that what we're left with is a CD which will take you back to the very moment you first heard it. Every hi hat on "Fair" splashes and sparkles, the piano on "Brick" resonates like never before and "Song For The Dumped" reveals more angry off-tempo notes than you ever thought possible in a single chorus. Yet none of this ever ruins the wonderful intimacy of this great album. Check out the non-remastered version for loads of reviews on how fine the songs are, and hopefully others will write up the bonus tracks here, but I hope I've coerced the on-the-fence audiophile saddos like me into spending a few quid they won't regret.
This album is quite simply brilliant. In a world where decent music composition is rare and really great songs are so few and far between, an album like this is written. Seldom do albums like these come along and when they do they should be snapped up. Every song is a total winner. Regardless of your musical taste, beautifully written songs are universal.
The remastered edition is worth the extra money too as you get 6 more proper tracks and not just a series of remixes (although one remix is included).
Quite simply the best album I own. This 12-song set includes the funny and upbeat (Battle of Who...,Kate), the angry and frantic (Song For The Dumped, One Angry Dwarf...) and the poignant and mellow (Brick, Evaporated, Missing the War). The lyrics are dead-on, the music is great and the album is full of hooks and lines you'll never forget. It's not often you can call an album life-changing, but this one certainly is. A bargain.
One Angry Dwarf And 200 Solemn Faces - if there a better example of piano pummeling in the rock canon please tell me now! There's lots of variety and subtle poignant beauty here (Missing the War) here, but I what I really love is where it sounds like he's venting all his pent up frustration by taking it out on the ivories (One Angry Dwarf .../Song for the Dumped)! Fantastic!