Wednesday, February 20, 2008

More Squeeze? Yes! Split Enz? Sure!

Glenn Tilbrook, singer/songwriter from the band Squeeze, is in the process of releasing five CDs worth of demos, and the second batch "In The Sky Above" has just come out. Like the first set ("The Past Has Been Bottled") it's an interesting look at the songwriting process, since the final band versions of many of these tunes are considerably different. That said, this new collection, covering 1993 to 1998, feels more produced than the earlier set of 80's-era demos, and so it's a nice companion to the official releases. The later set also covers Squeeze's later years, so the songs won't be familiar to most folks... but they're still good!

Meanwhile, the Split Enz gang continues to raid the vaults, with a new remastering program that spruces up the sound of all their original albums. I've become a little suspicious of this "remastering" gimmick, having bought and rebought certain CDs four or five times without discerning much difference in the audio quality, but this remastering is definitely noticeable and (in my opinion) a big improvement. For some reason a lot of 70's/80's bands went the "thin" route with their sound, and this new edition fattens up the tunes without losing their charm. All this is available by individual CD or in a nifty box set that also tosses in the essential "Rootin Tootin Luton" rehearsal/demo sessions that came out late in 2007.

Oh my God, I'm pushing Squeeze and Split Enz, two bands from the 70's and 80's. How do I regain my musical "street cred" with the "young people"? I know, how about by recommending "The Better Beatles" and their one and only release, "Mercy Beat." This is a great collection of atonal, deconstructed Beatles songs created by an Omaha Nebraska art band in the early 80s. I'm not sure if these are the best or worst Beatles covers ever, but I like them. They're not selling this one on Amazon, but the CD is available from the label at