Review: My Bloody Valentine – EPs & Rarities 1988-1991
Published on May 5th, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
Right, we’ve covered the remastered versions of Isn’t Anything and Loveless, so now it’s time to wade through the ‘new’ 2CD compilation of EPs and rarities that tomorrow shall also introduce to the world at large as a going concern.
As mentioned in our Loveless review, we covered our perceived benefits of the remastering process in our Isn’t Anything review, but Rocksucker’s unfamiliarity with the material on EPs & Rarities 1988-1991 affords the opportunity for relatively dispassionate analysis, which any My Bloody Valentine aficionados reading might find interesting or infuriating enough to have made the effort worthwhile.
Controversy shall not reign here, for this is largely thrilling stuff. “You Made Me Realise” works as an effective microcosm of MBV, pounding brutally, almost demonically, before giving way to Kevin Shields and Bilinda Butcher’s gorgeous harmonised vocals. You can see how this would have been very influential, and it’s amazing to think how many bands did take influence from MBV, yet no-one ever quite managed to successfully clone them without having to add their own slant on proceedings. And that’s not something you could say about Oasis. Great band, nigh-on impossible to convincingly mimic: MBV truly were/are an ideal source of inspiration.
Completing the presence of 1988’s You Made Me Realise EP is the oh-so-sleazy-and-grungy “Slow”, the blueprint-for-“Everybird”-by-The-Boo-Radleys (also a fantastic song by a fantastic band) of “Cigarette in Your Bed” and the total and utter splendour of “Drive It All Over Me”, which explodes into outrageous distortion that shoots up through the comparative jangle-pop like lava up through a long-dormant volcano.
Next up we have Isn’t Anything single “Feed Me With Your Kiss” and its concomitant b-sides; “I Believe” grumbles like some monster glowworm thumping its tail demanding coffee, “Emptiness Inside” lets those crunchy, disorienting guitars whirr blissfully ‘neath a druggy round of high-pitched ooh!s before riding Colm Ó Cíosóig’s firecracker drums into a stunningly authoritative pounding section, while “I Need No Trust”, aside from boasting an oddly prescient title, shimmers and trips balls in the manner of even more wondrous MBV interludes to come.
Fast forward to 1990, whose Glider EP presents Loveless closer “Soon” to the world like some proud but rather crazed scientist unveiling the benevolent, psychedelic, superintelligent giant ape that resulted from one too many sleepless nights in the lab. We then have the honking, screeching, instrumental title track, which is so gosh darn jarring as to have had Rocksucker literally laughing out loud while listening to it for the first time through speakers as a friend tried to snooze on the couch, yet also so inexplicably delightful as to imbue that laughter with its fair share of fondness.
We then have the chiming, roaring look forwards to Loveless of “Don’t Ask Why”, the heavenly intoxipop of “Off Your Face”, and it’s onto CD2 we go.
1991’s Tremolo EP bats straight from the off with “To Here Knows When” before taking the tenuously Madchester underbelly of “Soon” and using it to plump up “Swallow”, whose mysterious flute-sample-of-whatever-on-Earth-it-is rounds things off to sheer MBV perfection; this could easily have featured on Loveless, come to think of it. “Honey Power” represents another happy wedding of terrifying noise assault to relative normalcy, and “Moon Song” throws up the classic opening line of “Hold me close / I hate you the most” before going on to sound a little bit like someone hoovering Burt Bacharach. And, as much as we like Burt, that’s a good sound.
“Instrumental 2″, originally available on a free 7” that came with the first five thousand Isn’t Anything LPs, samples Public Enemy’s “Security of the First World” two years before Madonna did on “Justify My Love”, forging a sparse hip-hop wilderness through a tunnel of floaty ghostliness on its way to the rip-roaring rock freak/wig-out of “Instrumental 1”. (No typos there, and if this flawed chronology is your only source of MBV-related confusion, then either you haven’t been listening properly or you are Kevin Shields; in which case, hello!)
To paraphrase the afore-referenced Mr Bacharach, “what the world needs now is a ten-minute version of ‘Glider'”, and so we are gifted it. (Sorry, friend sleeping on my couch, for the bogus nightmares that may have inflicted on you.) “Sugar” feels like sodding Bonnie Tyler after that, although it is a thing of twinkly, whirring, pounding, transporting loveliness, and finally we are left with three previously unreleased tracks! Are they any good?
Yes. Yes they are. Well, “Angel” is perhaps as close to MBV-by-numbers as MBV got, but that’s still pretty great, while “Good For You” is two and a half minutes of pure drug-pop rush that initially sounds like a monster truck trying to start up, or perhaps some almighty lawnmower, before collapsing into total cacophony via some imperiously rumbling drums.
Finally, “How Do You Do It” manages to somehow sound as if the guitars and vocals are actually driving laps around the rhythm section, and in such a blaze as to appear like Saturn’s rings around it. Astonishing intensity, what.
Anyway, according to mybloodyvalentine.net, Shields talks in this month’s Mojo “about how when he went back and listened to all the abandoned stuff, that he realised that it was all way better than the ‘unreleased’ out-takes on the new compilation, and that it would be madness not to finish them! He also confirmed that there are 9 tracks on the new record that he’s working on and a new EP is to be recorded and released as soon as possible.” So, er, that’s something we can all cream ourselves about for the next twenty years, then.
Rocksucker says: Four and a Half Quails out of Five!