Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Cribs - "Payola" (LP Review)

"10 years on and 2001 is long gone
So I didn't wanna write another leather jacket love song"

Those are the opening lyrics to "Leather Jacket Love Song", the only previously unreleased song on the The Cribs 2013 singles compilation "Payola".  It's also a great song and an appropriate way to describe a ten year retrospective.  It is also indicative of what's disappointing with "Payola" -- only one unreleased song. 

There are actually two versions of "Payola": a single CD with 21 singles from their first five LPs and the one unreleased song, and a "deluxe" double CD that also includes 18 b-sides, bonus songs, and non-LP singles.   Of course I have all of albums and many of the singles and EPs, so my interest was in the deluxe edition to try to fill out some of the songs that I was missing. 

Much like my review of "Preemptive Strike", I'm reviewing the collection as a collection, not really the songs themselves.  The songs are great, but on a collection like this you have to review how the collection itself was created.  My problem with "Payola" is that 1) it oversamples the later LPs, and 2) doesn't have enough hard-to-find material for completists.  On disc 1, only seven songs (of 21) come from the first two LPs.  But as a collector, I really want to talk about disc 2.  The Cribs have always had a strong focus on singles and their associated b-side; for example, see their 7" collector box set.  Not being a 7" collector, I was hoping to get canonical copies of many of their hard-to-find songs.  Here's a list of their non-LP songs, roughly in order of the time frames of the corresponding LPs, with "*" indicating presence on "Payola":

The Cribs (2004):

On The Floor
Death To The Dead Bodies
Feelin' It!
I Gotta Go To LA
Song From Practice 1

The New Fellas (2005):

Happy's Just A State Of Mind And A State Of Mind Is Just Electrical Impulses           
*It Happened So Fast           
North Of England                               
I'm Still Blaming You          
*Saturday Night Facts Of Life
*To Jackson            
I Was Her Man But I Done Her Wrong             
*Advice For A Roving Artist
*Non-LP single: You're Gonna Lose Us

Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever (2007):

*Kind Words From The Broken Hearted            
*Fairer Sex            
*My Adolescent Dreams          
Run A Mile             
*Get Yr Hands Out Of My Grave          
*Bastards Of Young
I'm a Realist (Postal Service Remix)
*Non-LP single: Don't You Wanna Be Relevant?

Ignore the Ignorant (2009):

*So Hot Now
Curse This English Rain
*Is Anybody There?
Non-LP single: Housewife

In the Belly of the Brazen Bull (2012):

*Glandular Fever Got The Best Of Me
*On A Hotel Wall
*Eat Me
*Better Than Me
*Don't Believe In Me

Again, the bias toward later material is evident -- there are no b-sides from the era of their first LP and five songs from their 2012 LP.  B-sides from the era of their second LP are well-represented, but unfortunately for me those five songs are also on the 2006 Japanese-only EP "Arigato Cockers".  Apparently that EP is hard to get, so I consider myself lucky for having a copy and I guess I can't really fault their inclusion on this collection.  The songs from the era of MNWNW are excellent and deserve more coverage than they receive, but unfortunately for me the only one I did not already have was The Replacements' cover "Bastards of Young".  I did not have any of the included songs from the era of the last two LPs, and although I already have "Curse This English Rain", I don't see how one could exclude this excellent song twice: once on "Ignore the Ignorant" and now on "Payola". 

I'm also disappointed in how they treated the non-LP singles.  "You're Gonna Lose Us" and "Don't You Want to Be Relevant" are excellent songs, but they should appear on disc 1.  Also, the single-sided 7" from the Johnny Marr-era, "Housewife", is still effectively unavailable -- that should be on disc 1 as well. Speaking of Johnny Marr, "Leather Jacket Love Song" is the last song he recorded with The Cribs and it is excellent -- this should have been a single in its own right. 

So in addition to the one unreleased song, I already had 10/18 of the songs on disc 2, and I'm no closer to getting copies of the really obscure songs from 2004 & 2005.  So while "Payola" is welcome, it is also a bit frustrating that the collection falls short of what it could have been.

Standout songs: nearly all of them, but here is a list of songs not covered in other reviews: "Leather Jacket Love Song" (live version for NME), "Fairer Sex" (2007 live version; Payola has the studio version), "Get Yr Hands Out Of My Grave", "Bastards of Young" (2007 live version; Payola has the studio version), "Glandular Fever Got The Best Of Me", "On A Hotel Wall"

Skip 'em songs: none.

Final score: 8/10.  I wish they had included some of the earlier leather jacket love songs.

N.B. Yes, I have not yet reviewed "In the Belly of the Brazen Bull" or "Live at the Brudenell Social Club".  I'm working on it.

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