Music Review: "As You Were" by Brother (2006)

[asyouwerecd-side3.jpg]"As You Were" is a compilation of fan-selected favorites from Brother’s 13-year pre-Pax Romana repitoire, from Black White to Urban Cave. The tracks chosen, though limited to only one disc, match up well to my personal favorites mix, Point of View.

To fit as many songs as possible, most of the tracks have been edited down. The following is my review of the selected tracks and how they were edited. The grading scheme is as follows.

  1. Really Bad
  2. Bad
  3. OK
  4. Good
  5. Excellent

1. 2 Chairs and One Tree (then = 4:04, now = 3:52)

One of my favorites from Your Backyard, this is definitely a good pick. I’m fairly certain the only edit is a shortened fade-out, which is fine by me. I might use this track in the next version of Point of View. Score: 4/5

2. Crazy (same length)

I’m so glad the i you you me version was chosen over the lifeless Urban Cave version. This a fun tune with a somewhat serious message about getting sucked into life on the internet (including a reference to net porn). The chorus lyirc "I don’t want that hangin’ over me" resonates strongly with my life. Score 5/5

3. The Crow (then = 4:29, now = 3:55)

In its original form, this Exit From Screechville track is my favorite Brother song. This edited version, though, cuts the intro by a couple measures and has an abbreviated guitar solo (the edit happens at about 3:00). Score 4/5

4. One Heart, One Soul (then = 6:00, now  = 3:51)

The original version, found on The Digging Bone, is really long, so the copious editing isn’t a surprise. The abruptness of them, though, is a bit jarring. There are a couple obvious cuts at about 0:05 and 0:43. They also cut the very best part of the song, the vocoder-distorted guitar solo that ought to appear at about 2:43. Score 3/5

5. River (then = 3:25, now = 3:10)

Of all the edited tracks, this is the best. River is one of the bright spots on the otherwise annoying Urban Cave. What makes this cut so good is the purging of the spoken bits ("Ah, there it is", etc). While not outstanding, River is now a solidly good song. Score: 4/5

6. Believe Again (then = 3:26, now = 3:08)

*Yawn* This middle-of-the-road "You’re my personal hero" ballad from i you you me has never been one of my favorites. It’s not unpleasant, but it’s nothing special. Also, I’ve always thought the use of "seethe" was a bit strained if not entirely wrong. Score: 3/5

7. Lonely (then 3:51, now = 3:48)

This is another good song that received tortured treatment on Urban Cave. This Your Backyard track has been trimmed a little by cutting a couple measures from the introduction. Score: 4/5

8. Thetimeisnow (then = 4:05, now = 3:47)

I’ve always preferred this live version from This Way Up over the original Your Backyard studio version and it seems other fans  do too. The edits on this track are pretty slick and I’d have to have a lot more patience than I do to find them. 😉 Score: 4/5

9. Fly Away (then = 4:50, now = 4:28)

This is a decent chill-out track from Your Backyard that got *really* fubared on Urban Cave. Not being a song amongst my personal favorites, I don’t care enough to figure out what got trimmed out. Score: 3/5

10. Romp and Circumstance (then = 6:37, now = 2:41)

The amount of editing on this This Way Up track is a bit deceptive. The original has a lengthy intro with another song (Granny and Rory Macleod, I think), that ends at 1:51. Still, an additional 2:05 were carved out. That’s just too much to take from such an awesome song. I prefer the Exit From Screechville studio version, but the original live version is still good enough to get 5/5. Score 4/5

11. Stand Beside Me (then = 5:15, now = 5:03)

Not much was trimmed from this solid Your Backyard tune. Score: 4/5

12. Funny (then = 3:33, now = 3:27)

I’ve grown less fond of this Urban Cave song with time and will likely pull it from Point of View. Score: 3/5

13. Rainmaker (then = 4:48, now = 4:24)

The Digging Bone is my second favorite Brother album, and Rainmaker is one of its best tracks. The only edit I could detect was the unfortunate eviscerating of the beautiful cello solo near the end. Score: 4/5

14. Purple Haze (same length)

This pastoral ballad from Your Backyard is decent, but it didn’t make my cut. Score: 3/5

15. Take You Back (then = 4:24, now = 0:47)

What the hell is with these teaser tracks that have been on the last three albums?!? These 47 seconds would have been better used by making some of the edits less severe or by including My Rhubarb. Perhaps I’ll replace Funny with the Black Stone Tramp version of this song. Score: 0/5

16. Amazing Grace (same length)

Amazing Grace is a beautiful song and the harmonies by brother Richardson are very good, but there isn’t much to make their rendition from Pipe Dreams stand out in a crowd. Score: 4/5

17. All I Know (then = 4:52, now = 4:14)

This is one of my favorite Black Stone Tramp tracks. The edits are acceptable, but not desireable. Score: 4/5

18. Blackest of Blue (then = 5:38, now = 4:30)

I prefer the This Way Up live version of this song from The Digging Bone. As you can see from the time reduction, the edits are pretty severe. Score: 3/5

19. Carry Me (then = 4:38, now = 3:57)

Given the repetitive, meditational nature of this Black Stone Tramp track, the editing done is appropriate. As I listen to this track again, though, I’m no longer sure why I put it on Point of View. Hmm… Score: 3/5

20. The Machine: 2006 (then = ?, now = 3:37)

I have no idea what this song sounded like in its original Black White form (Anybody want to hook me up with a mp3 or ogg file of it?), so I can’t judge the edit. I can, however, say that there’s little noteworthy or interesting about this track. It reminds of some of the half-baked trance remixes the band did a few years ago. The beat is promising and some of the samples are intriguing, but the overall execution is sloppy and boring. Score: 2/5

Album Score: 68/95 (71.6% C-)

I decided to not include the aborted track 15 in the final score. Don’t let this low score fool you. If you don’t own and can’t acquire copies of the older albums, As You Were is a decent representation of the good old days. For those of us who have most or all of them, though, the best use we could put these edited tracks to would be squeezing as many songs as possible into our personal mixes.

Final verdict: Buy (or mooch) the original albums if you can, but otherwise get As You Were and be confident that what you have will give you hours of listening pleasure. 🙂