Adventures of a University Finalist

Saturday, July 16, 2005

No More Bowling Shoes

Fountains of Wayne - Out of State Plates (Virgin, 2005)

Fountains of Wayne - Maureen
Fountains of Wayne - Kid Gloves
Fountains of Wayne - I'll Do the Driving
Fountains of Wayne - These Days
Fountains of Wayne - Baby I've Changed

Yes! It's finally arrived! Admittedly, the case is a bit knackered but it's here! As you can see I'm very, very, very excited about this b-sides and rarities collection even if most of the print media seem to be rather nonplussed. This is mainly due to my deep love for the Fountains... for several years now leading to my pursuit of these rare tracks either through ludicrous bidding sessions for singles on eBay and my constant failure of will to buy the Troubled Times EP because it was simply too expensive on import (I'm a wuss).
So my opinion? It's scattershot certainly but you have to understand that you're getting thirty songs for your money here. So I'll give you a breakdown: 2 humourous radio spots that are of completely no value, a jokey hidden track off a Christmas single ('Chanukah Under the Stars'), 5 covers (Jackson Browne, ELO, Britney, Aztec Camera, Bacharach/David... all of which are good or better), 2 new songs ('Maureen' and 'The Girl I Can't Forget', both of which are uptempo rockers that surpass most of the material on 'Welcome Interstate Managers' easily), 2 unreleased songs dragged from the vaults ('Half a Woman' is terrible to put no fine a point on it plodding along with this horrible faux circus instrumentation, whereas 'Small Favors' is an acoustic rocker that is definitely worth checking out especially due to its chopping Link Wray instrumental), and 19 b-sides. So, overall, I'd say that you're getting at least 20 power pop gems and I've already made a double CD Fountains... best of compilation for my lovely lady including eleven tracks off it.
As I said before, both 'Maureen' and 'The Girl I Can't Forget' are worth the price alone so that's led me to only uploading one and in doing so hopefully getting you to invest in the collection. This is mainly due to the fact that, as the boys themselves note in the liner notes, 'The Girl...' is a rewrite of an old live standard they did called 'Bowling Shoes' which I used to love and has now apparently been completely scrapped. Thus, it's a little hard to truly love 'The Girl...' so I've opted for the alternative. 'Maureen' is pure 70s power pop which nods it cap to Cheap Trick before throwing in the restraint getting down on its knees and kissing Rick Nielsen's feet. The playful synths, the driving power chords, and "Doug Fieger" vocal stutters accompanied by "uh uh uhs" (like an uptempo 'She's So Selfish' with that song's blatant chauvinism reversed). The lyrics are as wry and as sharp as usual revolving around a girl who is a little too frank about her sexual practices.
'Kid Gloves' and 'I'll Do the Driving' have been huge favourites of mine for years now and having them on celluloid is a dream come true. 'Ill Do the Driving' fully undertakes the overt sexual politics of The Knack this time lamenting a girl who is a little too out of touch for the narrator's liking with the immortal line of "We're out the jukebox plays "Jumpin' Jack Flash"/She says 'I love Johnny Cash, the man in red'. Brilliant writing that always omits a guilty laugh whenever I hear it. Of course, this narrative is accompanied by the usual brilliant arrangements that the band seem to pull out of nowhere for their slow numbers. You could call it 'All Kinds of Time Mach 1' with its propulsive drum beat high in the mix and ringing guitar lines dancing with themselves. Chris Collingwood's wife hates it. I wonder why...
'Baby I've Changed' bounces along merrily with its lolloping bass line, and soft and simple support from the drums as the snare is happily struck in an easy 4/4. This goes in hand in hand with the simplistic sentiment of the lyrics as Chris (I'm pretty sure he does all the singing) tries to win back his girls with promises that he'll listen to Sugar Ray before it descends into the ol' standard phrase repetition in the outro. To put it simply it sounds like an extended sitcom theme tune... the best sitcom theme tune I've ever heard but still. Bloody hell now that I've said that whenever I listen to that song I'll think of Jim Belushi doing slow-mo running in a horrid yellow polo shirt. Why? I don't know. My brain works that way.
On a side note, I haven't uploaded '...Baby One More Time' because I prefer the straight reading of Jackson Browne's 'These Days' which actually has decent lyrics whereas '...Baby One More Time's tune seems to have been stripped down a little too well by the band so that it verges on a rather bland novelty.

Visit - Fountains of Wayne
Buy - Fountains of Wayne - Out of State Plates