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You Am I | The Cream & The Crock (BMG Australia)
It's fitting that the last You Am I record with BMG should be this double retrospective, a superior collection to the UK-only 'No, After You Sir...' (Transcopic).
Fifteen tracks make up 'The Cream' disc (the album will revert to a single disc once initial quantities have gone), a near-chronological set that begins with Berlin Chair and Jaimme's Got A Gal from '93s 'Sound As Ever' an album which, unlike its successors, probably didn't have much more to offer a 'Best Of' set. Both 'Hi-Fi Way' (1995) or 'Hourly, Daily' (1996) however were brimful of great songs: Cathy's Clown, Purple Sneakers, Jewels and Bullets, Good Mornin', Mr Milk, Trike...all pretty much staked their claim for a place the second the amp buzz died. The quality factor is upheld by the pair of gems from '#4 Record' (1998), live staples Heavy Heart (one of only two ballads featured) and Rumble. With nothing from '99s live set 'Saturday Night, 'Round Ten' or singer Tim Rogers' solo album, 'What Rhymes With Cars And Girls' (also 1999), it's left to the feisty Get Up and atypically stadium-friendly ballad Damage to represent the occasionally excellent 'Dress Me Slowly' (2001), and just the full-on rawk of Who Put The Devil In You from last year's 'Deliverance.' The set closes with the rhetorical How Much Is Enough from 'Hi-Fi Way', the answer being another eighteen tracks to initial there's marketing for you.
'The Crock' offers not so much an alternative history as further evidence that You Am I are a lot more than arguably the best live band in the world. The second disc's opening 'Hi-Fi Way' pairing of Applecross Wing Commander and Minor Byrd (the best guitar intro Keith Richards never wrote) are as essential as rock music can be and, with the following Junk (from '#4 Record') make for the best trio of songs ever to not make the cut for an 'actual' best of (and an apologetic nod to Transcopic who featured all three in the first four tracks of their comp). One of two new songs follows, the by-numbers What They Do At Night which doesn't really belong in such company, but the new version of Trouble (previously sung by one Bernard Fanning on the YAI-heavy 'Dirty Deeds' soundtrack) is a gem and the two-and-a-half-minute Faces/Strokes burst of Mr Kermode & The Million Matches would sell a truckload if the band came from New York. Elsewhere the mid-tempo pop perfection of 'Hourly, Daily''s If We Can't Get It Together stands out, as does the early energetic rush of Cool Hand Luke (from the 1993 EP, 'Coprolalia') and the closing ballad Open All Night (previously a b-side and soundtrack contribution). Between them are dotted further examples of the band's unshakeable commitment to preaching the rock'n'roll gospel. Few, if any, do it better.

Matt Dornan
CWAS #13 - Autumn 2003