Silver Jews - Early Times
"Early Times" collects the early demos and tentative growing pains Silver Jews displayed on their EP "The Arizona Record" and the 7" single "Dime Map of The Reef." Interested parties will be varied of course, but will probably fall into a couple broad categories: Pavement/Silver Jews fans, lo-fi Heads, and people in the mood for the kind of record that both cool to listen to AND makes you run for a guitar, thinking that if they can do it anyone can.
These jagged, muddy demos are not so much false-starts or ironically out of tune as equally smart and smartass; like "Basement Tapes" outtakes, these songs have a hidden grace and power beneath the drunken, aw-shucks sloppiness. There is a hypnotic, majestic groove beneath the squalor of "September 1999" and "THE Unchained Melody," one that is especially overt on the stunning "Secret Knowledge of Back Roads," one of Stephen Malkmus' best non-Pavement Pavement melodies.
Other songs are either cut off or interrupted before they really get going, or much too short. There are so many ought-to-be brilliant songs here that are instead sketches of brilliance. Two exceptions are the mats-esque "I Love The Rights," and the achingly beautiful closer, "Bar Scene From Star Wars."
Malkmus, along with David Berman and Bob Nastanovich, sure made a glorious noise as Silver Jews and other assorted incarnations. The seeds to all that madness and magic is here, was there right at the beginning, as this reissue shows. The muddy, chaotic half-measures will annoy fans and casuals alike, but some of what they did manage to complete are just too good to ignore.
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