Artful rockers Mercury Rev show their eclectic tastes off in the latest in the Back To Mine mix CD series
You can easily see why the band are drawn into scoring a film like Bye Bye Blackbird (staring Derek Jacobi and Jodhi May, “A dark story in colours… with musique originale by Mercury Rev)”, but aren’t they an odd choice for Back To Mine?
Perhaps, but if you’re into satisfying eclectic albums, this is another one that wanders all over the right places. You can’t go far wrong with David Bowie Low period (the one with the wailing harmonica) which with ‘Hotel Borg’ is a great start. I’ve always disliked ‘Seasons In The Sun’ but one of the joys of these compilation series is discovering something you thought you didn’t like or just find some gems you’d never heard off. Falling somewhere between the two is ‘I’m A Fool To Want You’ by Billie Holiday and Nico’s ‘Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams’. And talking of great singers, George Jones is superb as ever.
For the Welsh Velvet spotters, ‘Days Of Steam’ by John Cale is off an album The Academy In Peril but don’t expect beat-matching/cross-fade thing going on into the strange title of ‘/=/=/’. It’s a shame these two are cut short but there’s much to cram into the 67 minutes here.
I suppose you only get one shot at this and you’d want to cover your favourites but there’s a bit in the middle I wasn’t too keen on, excepting their own space-like ‘Cecilia’s Lunar Expose’. It’s a shame that they didn’t take that into ‘Astral Travelling’ (Pharoah Sanders). Perhaps it was too obvious but the CD finishes well including the brilliant Hanne Hukkleberg. These two may not seem obvious ‘partners’ but it works really well; as would the Nico track that was written by Lou Reed (off the Chelsea Girl album)..
Thinking about it, Mercury Rev’s Back To Mine is as almost as leftfield and ambient as Talvin Singh’s collection but definitely more rock oriented — it’s a sort of pop version for WIRE readers or laid back art rockers. Doesn’t that sum Mercury Rev up? Anyway, before I heard this CD, if they’d asked me back to theirs, I’d have hesitated. But now, I’d definitely go as long as they promised not to play ‘When You Wish Upon A Star’.
Reviewed: Various — Back To Mine: Mercury Rev (DMC) Cat. No. BACKCD24 Release date: 30th October 2006
1 David Bowie — A Career In A New Town (2:43)
2 Johan Johannsson — Hotel Borg (3:03)
3 Terry Jacks — Seasons In The Sun (3:20)
4 Galaxie 500 — When Will You Come Home (5:12)
5 Billie Holiday — I’m A Fool TO Want You (3:16)
6 John Cale — Days Of Steam (1:51)
7 Andrew Bird — /=/=/ (0:54)
8 George Jones — The Grand Tour (3:02)
9 Nicolai Dunger — If I Were A Little Star (3:27)
10 Nico — Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams (5:02)
11 Mercury Rev — Cecilia’s Lunar Expose (4:14)
12 Spacemen 3 — Big City (4:30)
13 Suicide — Dream Baby Dream (6:09)
14 Alex Chilton — Let Me Get Close To You (2:33)
15 Pharoah Sanders — Astral Travelling (5:36)
16 Hanne Hukkleberg — Cast Anchor (4:04)
17 Bill Frisell, Don Byron, Art Baron etc -Self Portrait In 3 Colours (3:13)
18 Randy Newman — Uncle Bob’s Midnight Blues (1:57)
19 Cliff Edwards — When You Wish Upon A Star (3:15)
www.mercuryrev.net “The Essential Mercury Rev — Stillness Breathes (1991-2006) is a two-disc retrospective of the band’s works thus far. Disc one contains selections from each of the band’s six studio albums, while disc two is a collection of B-sides and rarities including three previously unreleased tracks. Hello Blackbird is a collection of mostly-instrumental music, originally written & recorded as the original score for the full-length feature film, Hello Blackbird (directed by Robinson Savary)”. The Essential Mercury Rev — Stillness Breathes (1991-2006) and Hello Blackbird will both be released on October 2, 2006 on V2 Music