I have to admit to being somewhat confused by this business of releasing 'unreleased' tracks (demos, b-sides and live, it says here). For one thing, there's the obvious paradox that as soon as they're available to the general public, they are no longer unreleased. Maybe to preserve their 'unreleased' status the putative consumer must travel incognito to Teaneck, NJ (it, again, says here) then spend several days covertly observing the band before sneaking into their house (or studio) under cover of a diversion (or in the dark of night) so as to make off with a copy of this CD.
Then again, there's the other obvious question - why are they unreleased? If the tracks in question were solid gold, they'd be out there storming up the rock charts or on heavy MTV rotation (or whatever it's called when you see the same three videos at the same time on 'competing' music channels). If they didn't make the cut at the time, what's happened? In mainstream land, it usually means that one or more members of the band have died in a bizarre gardening accident and the RecordCo are banging out any product they can get their greedy wee hands on so as to maximise their ROI. Or they're an artist the stature of Bob Dylan, who could probably release a CD of selected readings from his shopping lists 1974-85 and still have it bought by a legion of obsessive fans.
And: B-sides? On a CD? I tried putting the thing in the drive the other way up, on the off-chance that I'd only been playing half my music collection for the past several years, but I was rewarded only with some scraping and a nasty clacking noise. I would imagine that industrialists such as Messrs. Parasite would consider that a Good Thing, but if it's knackered up my good CD player, I shall be writing a stiff letter to The Times. See if I don't.
Anyway. Music. There's a definite progression here. The first couple of tracks date from 1996 and sound like little more than a gang of cider-guzzling tramps having a swearing competition in a darkened bus-station. The first track Are you looking at my crisp-packet collection you Wolverhampton bastard? features whispered swearing, some German fellow reading his sampler manual out loud, distraught women and some chap one-fingering his way through 'spooky string pad #3'. Track two is also at home to Mr. Sweary, but there's some interesting bass-mangling in amongst the machine-gun drum machinery.
The fourth track, criminail, (or as it should be 'Nick Cave tries his hand at a spot of window-cleaning while possessed by demons') begins with a rather jolly refrain that one could see George Formby whistling as he tuned up his ukelele before the aforementioned Mr Cave arrives to borrow a ladder and bang the saucepans about in a frankly alarming and unnecessary manner. Just be sure you bring the ladder back, young fellow, and shut up about the bats will you?
Track five sounds like Talk-Talk stumbling onto the set of a Quentin Tarantino film and deciding to make the best of it. Apart from Mad Hettie from the bus-station, who's wandering about muttering about 'them bleddy teevee people' and demanding money for more cider.
By the time we wend our merry way to the compact and south-facing slopes that form the environs of track eight, things have gone all experimental techno-industrial. And noodly piano. I'd hoped that they'd break into some housed-up Happy Mondays-style riffage, purely to confuse the hell out of people, but it was not to be. A particularly annoyed dalek arrives and spends the rest of the song giving full vent to it's anger and frustration over the amount of stairs in the building. Track nine is mostly played backwards and sounds like an English sixties psychedelic combo having a terrible accident with a bucket of hammers. Excellent stuff indeed.
The rest of the tracks are live and lurch from rather self-indulgent guitar malarkey, via a bit more of the itinerant Talk-Talk through to some remarkably chunky EBM that seems influenced by Napalm Death in a particularly fine and entertaining manner.
Post: I, Parasite, PO Box 3013, Teaneck, NJ, 07666, USA