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Buffalo Tom | Asides From... (Beggars Banquet)
One thing sure to start an argument is a 'best of' album. Cries of 'but (insert favourite track) isn't on it' ring loud, but not with this one. ANY track not here is an omission, but it's a single album, not a box set. It's obvious that this is no 'contractual obligation' label money spinner, each track has sleeve notes from the band and care has gone into the sequencing to create an album in its own right, although purists will argue it should be chronological. Summer takes its rightful place as a album opener, its chiming guitar vying with the drums for the honour of driving the song while Bill Janovitz's soft vocals turn to a growl as the track intensifies until you feel it's ready to burst. All the while Chris Colbourn keeps a cool head and bass while adding a haunting harmony. Every track is a classic in itself - the adolescent awkwardness of Soda Jerk (complete with Simon & Garfunkel-esque drop into the third verse), the loner-loving Taillights Fade and the frenzy of Sunflower Suit. Then there's Larry. Has ever a song held such distance and yearning as this? 'When I sleep is when you rise' cries Bill and it's clear his heart is far, far away. The feeling is cruelly reinforced by following it with Postcard, where he resignedly asks his lost love for a card 'when you get there'. Crushing. Tangerine lifts you, until I'm Allowed breaks you again, but then Birdbrain and the rattling Velvet Roof make you bounce around. Even Going Underground doesn't seem out of place and shows the bands skill at turning angst into heartbreak, but as Wiser ends the record it shows that their own songs are better than Weller's any day. A masterpiece album in its own right and sure to send newcomers in search of the back catalogue, but can us completists have a B-sides one now please?

Laurence Arnold
CWAS #6 - Autumn 2000

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