Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Toad The Wet Sprocket 7: P.S.

Thanks to dwindling sales and the requisite “musical differences”, Toad The Wet Sprocket dribbled to a close by the end of the century. The business being what it was, the label okayed a hits collection, which by law required the inclusion of exclusive material.
P.S. (A Toad Retrospective) is not only a fitting title, but it also happens to be the name of a song yet to be included on an album—until now! Apparently one of the first tunes they wrote, it was recorded specially for the set but without lead guitarist Todd Nichols, who also doesn’t appear on “Eyes Wide Open”, the other new track. In between, the set runs through all the usual hits and radio favorites from all six albums, mostly staying uptempo until “I Will Not Take These Things For Granted”, which always sounds odd in the middle of a sequence instead of at the end of one. To make things further interesting, several of the tracks appear in edited or remixed versions, but as that’s how most of them ended up on the radio or in music videos, the differences aren’t exactly striking. “Silo Tornado”, a strings-heavy bonus from the Japanese version of Coil closes the set; fans still have to hold onto other CDs for their versions of “Instant Karma”, “Hey Bulldog”, and particularly “Rock & Roll All Night”, which might be the greatest Kiss cover ever recorded.
A decade later, two other compilations appeared as part of Sony’s budget Super Hits and Playlist series. The former runs 33 minutes and leans heavily on Dulcinea album tracks, while the latter purports to be the band’s “very best” and sticks closer to P.S., but substitutes a couple of live versions from 2004’s Welcome Home, which documents a 1992 concert. That’s worth getting on its own, as the band plays a well-sequenced set, complete with vocal asides to George Harrison, the Replacements, and the Waterboys. An onstage keyboard player adds color, and altogether there’s a toughness and tightness given to the early material. There’s even pre-release takes on “Brother” and “Fall Down”.
Those aforementioned musical differences didn’t preclude the occasional reunion gig, and after a decade or so of working separately to little widespread notice outside the fervent, they reconvened to record new versions of several songs from their catalog. This is a common trend among bands whose work is owned by a label no longer interested in paying them, so they can hawk recordings they do own at hefty licensing fees to raise income. All You Want would likely fool anyone not paying close attention into thinking these were the originals. Musically it’s fine; as a product it’s inessential.

Toad The Wet Sprocket P.S. (A Toad Retrospective) (1999)—4
Toad The Wet Sprocket
Welcome Home: Live At The Arlington Theater, Santa Barbara 1992 (2004)—
Toad The Wet Sprocket
Super Hits (2008)—3
Toad The Wet Sprocket
Playlist: The Very Best Of Toad The Wet Sprocket (2009)—
Toad The Wet Sprocket
All You Want (2011)—3

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