Top critical review
30 people found this helpful
Solid timecapsule of 80's indie compromised by poor packaging....
on 29 June 2013
This set has had mixed reviews with the Guardian, Mojo, Arts Desk all giving middling reviews for various reasons. Straight off the bat I have to say I think the song selection is pretty solid with about 2-3 "duds" per disk which isn't a bad hit rate when there are 134 tracks. Also despite having quite a lot of 80's indie I only had 10-tracks on the set and so a lot of this music is new to me. Yes, as the reviews state the set has been seriously compromised by the lack of some big names (Smiths, Felt, Postcard era Orange Juice, Aztec Camera & Josef K, a 'proper' J&MC track as opposed to a demo, etc) but I suspect that a lot of the potential buyers of this set will already have the "big names" of 80's indie and so I tend to be more forgiving on this point.
One can nitpick endlessly about the song selection for a set of this size and yes, even with the big names missing there are glaring song substitutions such as the rickety "God Bless" instead of "Therese" from The Bodines. However in the main the set is listenable bar some abrasive post-punk tracks sneaking in, such as Big Flame (not a good track), Josef K (the clangourous "The Missionary" instead of the brilliant, jangling "Sorry For Laughing" which was proto-indie in excelsis). Finally on this subject I have to point out that 'Vote For Love' by Jamie Wednesday might just be the worst song I've ever heard in my life, perfectly summing up everything that detractors accused 80's indie of being (twee, precious, inept, clunky, etc).
Therefore overall I'd recommend this set bar one enormous problem..... the packaging which is atrocious. As the other reviewer intimated you need nerves of steel or an engineering degree to get the discs out since they are tightly packed in the set with a 'Heath-Robinson' disc release mechanism (made of flimsy plastic which looks like it might stay intact, ooh maybe 5 minutes). It means you have to flex the disc to release them (at least until you've had some practice!) and sure enough my disc 1 has been compromised with the last track by the TV Personalities being corrupted. I contacted Cherry Red about this and they've not responded, very disappointing after the excellent service I had from Ace Records after reporting the mastering error on Disc 1 of their recent (superb) Country Joe & The Fish reissue. I am therefore debating whether to return the item as faulty despite the fact I'd like to keep it, in part due to Cherry Red's aloof attitude to customer service [I'd requested a replacement disc #1 or failing that an MP3 of the corrupted last track, seems I was being being unreasonable....].
UPDATE: A day after I wrote above review I've found a second track - this time trk 26 on CD#4 'Lee Remick' has corrupted with pronounced 'skipping' towards the end of the song. Again I put this down to having to flex the CDs in order to remove them from the lousy packaging. Cherry Red have really dropped the ball on this one, not helped by their arrogant attitude and contemptuous attitude to their customers. I'm therefore changing my recommendation to a definite do not buy due to the packaging issues (I've also docked my original 3-star review to 2-stars to reflect this).