Album Reviews

Various – Gimme Skelter

UK release date: 19 January 2004

Put together by the record “division” (how wonderfully corporate) of the irreverent Buddyhead website this uneven compilation aims, apparently, to “make it so hot in here you’re gonna wanna take off all your clothes and jump around like an idiot.”

Not sure about that, but what you do get is a ragbag of alternative mixes, B-sides, live tracks and previously unreleased material from a wide cross section of bands, many of them, not surprisingly, signed to the Buddyhead label.

As is so often the case with these compilations you have to wade through an awful lot of dross to reach the few nuggets of gold. Primal Scream‘s Shoot Speed/Kill Light, recorded live in Japan, is perhaps the best single reason for investing in Gimme Skelter, confirmation of just how good Bobby Gillespie and co can be at their excoriating best.

Although badly dated, Iggy Pop‘s New York City Is Beating It’s Chest (Again), a musical rant against the saintly Moby, has some deliciously nasty lines, of which “I’m sick of Moby, didn’t he rip off some old black lady” is one of the milder examples. There are perhaps more deserving targets for the Iggster’s bile, however, than a vegan, pacifist producer of music for TV commercials.

Rather more urgent, not to say relevant in its subject matter, is Mudhoney‘s Hard-On For War, its dense layers of guitar being strongly reminiscent of the early Black Sabbath (but then what isn’t these days?).

Elsewhere, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs‘ Shot Down is a twisted parody of teeny pop; Cave In get a chance to try out their Nirvana impression on Harmless, Armless/Minus World; and Shat‘s charming “bonus track” What The F**K Do You Think Christina Aguilera Is Doing Right Now has a certain shock value. Essentially, however, the latter is strictly fourth form (ninth grade) stuff, as is Nardwuar’s interview with Iggy Pop, which, perhaps inevitably, focuses on the ageing icon’s predilection for showing his todger in public – how very “alternative”.

Major disappointments are the Wire track, the great experimentalists, for once, sounding desperately short of inspiration, and Weezer ‘s You Won’t Get With Me Tonight, which sounds as though it’s been lurking in someone’s bottom drawer for far too long.

The same goes for too many of the other tracks to make this compilation other than strictly average. I’m afraid Le Tigre‘s instantly forgettable track Mediocrity Rules (if ever a song title was asking for it, this one is) sums up the overriding impression left by this rather haphazard collection.

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