It’s important to note that this is the 1998 reissue and not the 1995 original. Important because, at 21 tracks and 67 minutes, this is as bloated as you would expect a reissue to be, even one for a relatively unknown album such as this one. Important because this is now the only version you can get on both Spotify and Xbox Music. In fact, it seems to be the only one listed at allmusic. Important because it sounds awful, at least on both Spotify and Xbox Music, and I even tried “Extreme” (seriously) quality on Spotify. The sound on almost every song is dominated by crackly, peaking static at every crescendo. And that ends up being the most salient quality of the album.
Once you get past that, the next step is to get past the fact that it’s 21 songs and 67 minutes and good god it doesn’t need to be anywhere close to that long. Get past the sound and the songs that have no business being included here, and you’re left with an album that, well, it still has a ceiling of like 3.5 clowns. But, hell, that’s better than I’m gonna give it.
There are a few gems and several more songs that have good parts. But the band’s a little too twangy; they’re pretty judicious with the violin but it still gets overbearing, as is its wont in a setting like this. Their attempts at 70’s Springsteen glory and broken dreams are fine but nevertheless just make you want to go listen to Springsteen’s superior versions.
In the end, maybe the length of this ends up serving it pretty well. Not because I want to listen to the whole thing, or really even that many songs on it, but more because it lets the good moments peppered throughout the album pile up to a point where I’m inclined to say that, you know, maybe with better sound I’d even be able to say I liked this.
– “Drank Like A River,” “Revenge”
– “Midway Park,” “What May Seen Like Love,” “If He Can’t Have You,” “Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart Tonight,” “Desperate Ain’t Lonely,” “Hard Luck Story,” “Top Dollar,” “Lo Fi Tennessee Mountain Angel,” “Empty Baseball Park,” “16 Days,” “Yesterday’s News,” “Factory Girl”
– “Too Drunk To Dream,” “Tennessee Square,” “Faithless Street,” “Mining Town,” “Black Arrow, Bleeding Heart,” “Matrimony,” “Here’s To The Rest Of The World”
Song Notes: After the jump
- Midway Park – decent.
- Drank Like A River – ugh. A little too twangy for my taste, but the “somebody ruined his life/I betcha it was his darlin'” bit is so wonderfully Springsteen-ian as well as his own. And the whole thing is a bit of a cut above so much of the rest of the album, so I’m fullin’ it. I mean, it’s one I want to keep track of as I move on.
- Too Drunk To Dream – horrible sound.
- Tennessee Square – pretty dull, pretty bad sound
- What May Seem Like Love – maybe could have been full with better sound
- Faithless Street – This one fails in its attempt at Springsteenianism. Plus the sound sucks.
- Mining Town – Could have been good with decent sound but I’m feeling ruthless. Plus it’s just awful.
- If He Can’t Have You – good lyrics and the breakdown at the end of the chorus is awesome. But that’s not a whole song.
- Black Arrow, Bleeding Heart – doesn’t need to be here.
- Matrimony – pretty nice song, lyrics don’t make total sense as sung, crap sound.
- Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart Tonight – tries to turn that whole “it’s my heart I can break it if I want to” thing into a whole song. fails.
- Desperate Ain’t Lonely – awful sound.
- Hard Luck Story – upbeat, rockabilly. Could’ve maybe been full with better sound.
- Top Dollar – maybe the second best song on the album.
- Lo-Fi Tennessee Mountain Angel (For Kathy Poindexter) – has some very, very awesome parts and you feel like this guy could really knock a slow burner out of the park if he could get a whole song together.
- Revenge – the rockinest one here. Full might be generous, but sound is merely pretty bad (i.e., not awful), and I like to give each album a full if I can, and I think it’s justified to call out this as the best song on the album.
- Empty Baseball Park – fine.
- Here’s To The Rest Of The World – Like Goo Goo Dolls’ worst stuff.
- 16 Days – great verses, but the “ghost has got me running” part is not hooky at all. god i love those verses.
- Yesterday’s News – boring. but harmless.
- Factory Girl – Harmonica has some Springsteen echoes. Also “factory” and “girl” both kinda recall Springsteen pretty heavily.