Golden Greats No. 1 – The Soundtrack Of Our Lives (Telegram Records)
This is the second retrospective package but the first well-rounded “best of” for the late (1994-2012) but great Swedish psych-rock-pop conglomerate. While the 2 CD “A Present From The Past” focused on outtakes and rare gems, “Golden Greats” is a single disc that’s largely what it says on the package.
Of the 19 tracks, one (Karmageddon”) is previously unreleased and another (“Earthmover”) is a ‘Net only single so you know you’re getting all the great stuff from the top-shelf. The previously-released tracks have undergone some mixing and mastering touch-ups, but nothing too obtrusive (or noticeable) to these ears.
The short story is that TSOL grew out of the ashes of late-‘80s/early-‘90s Stooges-via-the-Stones confrontational rockers Union Carbide Productions. Cast an ear back to that band’s four albums and you get an appreciation for where TSOL was coming from. There’s a primal collision of guitars running through the middle of most of the songs but enough psychedelic undertones to tell you there were more arcane and complex influences at work.
Five albums and a smattering of EPs make TSOL’s back-catalogue substantial. TSOL started strongly enough with the “Homo Habilis Blues” EP and “Welcome to the Infant Freebase” LP but only got better, peaking with the mainstream breakout attempt of “Behind The Music” and the follow-ups “Communion” and “Origin Vol.1”. The swansong “Throw It To The Universe” was disappointingly bland but only by comparison to what had gone before.
TSOL were as much about textures and divergent studio sounds as understated power and they were the kings of sweeping aural build-ups that revealed clever pop hooks. Kaftan-wearing vocalist Ebott Lundberg developed his vocals as he went on and the guitarwork of Ian Person and Mattias Bärjed (who succeeded original member Bjorn Olsson after the first LP) are sharper than trick questions in a Mensa admission test.
Above all, TSOL were about song-craft – and it’s overflowing on the should-have-been-a-hit, pop masterpiece “Sister Surround”, the surging “Bigtime”, whip-smart “Nevermore” and whimsical “Believe I’ve Found.”
The iceing on the cake is a companion live DVD shot in Canada. It’s a little wanting for visual quality but loses nothing on the performance side. The band fleetingly visited Australia in the ‘00s, playing just a handful of shows including an under-attended one at the old Annandale Hotel. The energy levels on display that night are fully evident on the DVD.
Every TSOL release has something to recommend. If you’re unfamiliar with their addictive output,here's your gateway drug.