How Investments Win Out
271 · 6 April 00
Lexo and the Leapers: Ask Them
I don't have fickle relationships with bands. At least, I didn't used to. I like different albums different amounts, of course, and there are people who have whole sides to their musical personality that I don't care about (Jane Siberry's improvisational jazz records, for example), but before Robert Pollard I'd never had an artist about whom my entire opinion oscillates as a result of my reaction to individual records. The last peak of this curve was Guided by Voices' Do the Collapse, which left me feeling almost certain that "Surgical Focus" was one of the year's best songs, and Bee Thousand one of the decade's ten best albums. The "almost" in "almost certain", however, was there because I knew, even during my immersion in Do the Collapse, that I had yet to deal with two more Pollard records sitting on my pile, installments two and three in his Fading Captain series. The first of these is manageable enough, a six-song, seventeen-minute EP credited to Lexo and the Leapers. The personnel is non-GbV (Gale Bonham joining Pollard on guitar, Tere Lerma on bass, Jay Madewell on drums), but they're Pollard's songs, and it's Pollard's voice, and John Shough did the recording, and it doesn't take much mental effort to treat this as a thinly disguised GbV EP meant to enter the catalog alongside Fast Japanese Spin Cycle, Plantations of Pale Pink, Sunfish Holy Breakfast and the like. "Time Machines" is a lumbering rock epic, provided lasting only 2:16 doesn't disqualify a song from "epic" for you. "Alone, Stinking and Unafraid" has a long, semi-aimless acoustic intro, but once Pollard starts singing it's a scratchy, fitful thrash. "Plainskin" has another stab at a delicate intro, but after a few seconds seems to simply give up on the idea and revert to churning, single-minded guitar buzz, almost without chord changes, over which Pollard sings for a little while, and then wanders off, leaving the band no better exit strategy than a fade out. "Will You Show Me Your Gold?" is more focused, a menacing dirge that, if it were produced totally differently, might be able to pass for Black Sabbath. "Fair Touching" (which I believe is a love song for ants) is faster and cheerier, and garishly misproduced in the same enchanting way as much of Bee Thousand. "Circling Motörhead Mountain" is deliberate and clipped, and it goes nowhere but has the sense to stop when it gets there. I think my love for GbV could withstand any number of throwaway EPs like this. Or maybe, the other way around, these EPs are part of what I like about GbV. The dream GbV, to me, would put out one real album a year, intently crafted, and then an EP like this every month, consciously and explicitly erratic and hastily conceived.
Nightwalker: In Shop We Build Electric Chairs
But next, instead of another scattered EP, came this eleven-track collection from Nightwalker, nominally another Pollard side-project, except the definition of "project" has to be stretched rather violently to include it. Part of the problem is that I don't know which records Pollard means seriously and which he doesn't. I'm not convinced he knows. I'd be less upset by this one if it were an EP-of-the-Month, but I'm not sure I could take any ten-minute subset any better than I can take the entire thirty-three. "Drum Solo" sounds like first minute after you give your ten-year-old nephew a kit. "The Fink Swan (Swims Away)" lasts nearly three minutes, but never develops any notable song-like characteristics. "Kenneth Ray" sounds like an excerpt from an early basement rehearsal by a high-school talent-show band that will later come to realize that marijuana isn't as effective as you think if the audience hasn't smoked any. "Dogwood Grains" is a moment of inspired perversity, a short pretty song sung with the TV on in the background, but "Amazed", with a cheesy synthesizer percussion track and an anxious acoustic guitar that seems to have been laid down in a separate, oblivious pass, just annoys me, and the six-minute sound-collage "Ceramic Cock Einstein", surrounded by snippets that don't deserve titles, is an insulting waste of my time. "Weird Rivers & Sapphire Sun" is keening and muddled, like the tribal chant of an extinct Indian tribe nobody misses. "Trashed Canned Goods" is a thick-skulled rock jam that the vocal might have rescued, if it were more audible. And "Those Little Bastards Will Bite", the eleven-minute "finale", is just random studio noise. I can think of no reason for this disc to exist, except as a fuck-you demonstration that Pollard can put out any noises he wants, no matter how worthless, and we'll still buy them.
Robert Pollard With Doug Gillard: Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department
It's a strategy that comes perilously close to backfiring, at least with me, as it leaves me with a bad feeling that resurfaces after one or two times through Fading Captain #4, which is, at least structurally, a proper album, with Pollard singing and Gillard playing all the instruments into his four-track. The first couple times I thought some of these had promise, particularly the reeling pomp of "Soul Train College Policeman", the tiny, chirpy guitar hooks of "Pop Zeus", the stop-start jangle of "And I Don't (So Now I Do)", and the splayed, Townshendian "Tight Globes". But after the second or third time through, these stopped being enough to compensate for how disappointing a reversion this whole record seems to me, after Do the Collapse. I want Pollard to make progress. I don't want to think that he can write and record a dozen glittering pop songs and then go back to muddled, forgettable songs like most of these and not feel intolerably self-conscious. That's my albatross, not his, I'm sure, but I'm stuck with it. The intersection of this album, the Nightwalker disc and a very bad GbV concert experience resulted in three nagging, fundamental fears that I couldn't see a way to argue myself out of: 1) I don't think I like Robert Pollard. 2) I don't think I trust him. 3) Maybe by buying these records I am supporting something I don't condone. The end of the year arrived during this crisis of faith, and "Surgical Focus" and Bee Thousand were its casualties, dropping off my 1999 and decade lists.
Guided by Voices: Teenage FBI
But by the time I reached those depressing suspicions, on the verge of giving up, the separate thread that handles record collecting had finally turned up a copy of this UK single (on Creation, bizarrely) for "Teenage FBI". I could hardly throw it away without even listening. So I put it on, and "Teenage FBI" starts up, and I feel my resolve weakening. Maybe I don't want to be Robert Pollard's friend, but he's not asking me to, and could I really give up songs like this? If Ric Ocasek could get him to focus so effectively, what else will other producers one day cajole him into making? Can I really bear to not find out? And while I'm considering that, "Fly Into Ashes" plays, and I'm thinking "See, all it takes is a little imposed discipline", but then I check the credits and see that Ocasek had nothing to do with this one. It was recorded by Shough at Cro-Magnon, same as the Lexo songs, but it's as enchanting and un-ruined as anything on Do the Collapse. So much for the discipline being imposed. And "Tropical Robots", the other b-side here, is as succinct a case for Pollard's genius as anything, a gorgeous, lilting acoustic-guitar-and-voice trifle that anybody else would have used as the intro to a soaring power-ballad, but the pause that ought to be the rest of the band's cue stretches out just a moment too long, and then two moments too long, and then the disc ends.
Guided by Voices: Plugs for the Program
So there's one shred of hope, and then GbV put out this next three-song single as an exclusive for Newbury Comics, my record store of choice, so obviously I couldn't quit yet. My weakening resolve to give up GbV lasts about twenty seconds. The lead track is "Surgical Focus", remixed by Lou Giordano, and I'm both forcibly reminded of how much I liked the song to begin with, and stunned by how convincingly Giordano's tiny tweaks (the drums and guitars up a little, the voice down into the mix just enough to make it part of the arrangement) turn it into something else still, a deadpan alt-rock classic with ties to Sugar and the Connells, Pollard's judgment a forgotten issue. Please tell me that Lou will produce the next whole album. "Sucker of Pistol City" is sketchier, and less ebullient, but nothing goes seriously awry during its length, and the demo version of "Picture Me Big Time", which I expect to reveal hideous secrets, turns out to have the exactly same songwriting qualities as the polished version on Do the Collapse. So maybe the album's coherency wasn't Ocasek's doing, after all.
Guided by Voices: Hold on Hope
And if I wanted a formal apology, I couldn't ask for a much better one than the nine-song TVT EP Hold on Hope. "Underground Initiations", (one of six songs here produced by Ocasek, presumably outtakes from the Do the Collapse sessions), is charging and open-hearted, descended equally from Sugar and Translator. "Interest Position" is darker and tenser, instrumentally, the howling bridge (except it turns out to be a coda) reminding me of Mission of Burma, but breathy, Byrds-y harmonies counter the churn. "Fly Into Ashes" and "Tropical Robots" are reprised here, but "Tropical Robots" has a totally different feel when it's in the middle of something, even though the song it leads to, "A Crick Uphill", starts off as a bouncy quasi-folk song, not a power ballad. By the end it's mutated into an electric square-dance, though, paving the way for the strained, pounding "Idiot Princess", rendered instantly recognizable as one of the non-Ocasek tracks by the through-an-old-telephone vocal production. But the interlude doesn't last long, as "Idiot Princess" is promptly replaced by the simple, joyous, kick-drum-and-handclap-propelled "Avalanche Aminos", at least temporarily my vote for the catchiest song GbV has ever done. "Do the Collapse", which despite the title was not on the album, is a short instrumental AC/DC impression, but then the EP ends with "Hold on Hope", which was lovely on the album but even more encouraging, to me, as a single. I badly want to believe that Pollard isn't afraid of what "Hold on Hope" could do to him. Replace the slapback treatment on his voice with a little contoured reverb and it would be a perfect pop slow dance. Even as it is, it's close. Does Pollard want to be a pop singer? I kind of doubt it, and a part of me knows it's insulting to suggest that crafted, accessible, string-enhanced pop like "Hold on Hope" is somehow better than cryptic mosaics like Bee Thousand. But Bee Thousand was years ago, now, and there have been several more of those GbV albums since. "Hold on Hope" seems like a frontier, while the rest has become tediously familiar terrain, and if this time the frontier is moving towards civilization, rather than away from it, then maybe we'll finally learn something new about where we are.
Stereophonics: Hurry Up and Wait
Word Gets Around, the first Stereophonics album, didn't work its way as far into my life as my shelf full of GbV records, but Performance and Cocktails, the second one, disappointed me all the same, and I've kept buying their singles with some serious misgivings, wondering if my willingness to spend about a hundred dollars on b-sides for an album whose a-sides I didn't like that much isn't another piece of evidence that software-industry salaries are way too high. "Hurry Up and Wait" was my favorite album track, though, and I'm guessing it's the album's final single, so I opted to complete the set. As with "Teenage FBI", hearing "Hurry Up and Wait" again brings a little flood of remembering. Normal people, who only buy records they know something about, and listen to them over and over again, probably don't have this problem, needing to be reminded by new purchases about old ones, but the obsessive pressure of new discoveries, for me, means that even old favorites fight for spots in the rotation, and bands I'm currently skeptical of have virtually no chance. "Hurry Up and Wait" was Performance and Cocktails' closest approach to Word Gets Around, to me, musically poised and lyrically trenchant, and in isolation I can pretend it's part of the continuum that I hope the third album will sustain.
The first b-side, here, is a cover of the Rolling Stone's "Angie", which seems like a bad idea both because I dislike the original and because Tori Amos already did what I consider to be the definitive cover of it, but Kelly Jones' version, just his blasted voice and an acoustic guitar, is surprisingly emotional, and makes me think, as Tori's version didn't, that I might have underestimated the song itself. The other b-side is a throwaway, an acoustic version of "I Wouldn't Believe Your Radio" with drummer Stuart Cable supplying a gruff spoken lead-vocal that conflates Robbie Robertson, Barry White, Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen, but I find it more tolerable, on repeat exposure, than I initially feared.
Stereophonics: Hurry Up and Wait (Live at Morfia Stadium)
Part two is again a live EP, four more tracks from the same show as part two of I Wouldn't Believe Your Radio. "Hurry Up and Wait" is measured and cathartic, all guitar sustain and cymbal crash. The protracted performance of "I Stopped to Fill My Car Up" threatens to morph into "Hey Hey, My My", which seems to me like an interesting tension. The showpiece, though, is the reverent audience sing-along on "Billy Davey's Daughter". Whatever I missed, on Performance and Cocktails, the Morfia crowd didn't. I doubt they mean this as a personal favor to me, sustaining the band through my doubts so I'll get another chance, but I'll take chances however I can get them.
Big Country: In the Scud
I suppose there was even a trace or two of doubt around the build-up to Big Country's Driving to Damascus, too. It had been a long time between Big Country albums, for both them and me. My first encounter with new material was this advance EP of early demos, sold through their web site almost a year before the finished album was released. The only one of these five songs to actually appear on album is "Dive Into Me", which ended up sounding only slightly different. I'm not sure I could have guessed that any of the other four wouldn't make it, though. "This Blood's For You" is dry and sketchy, but the chorus is earnest and expansive, and really only the Budweiser allusion in the title mars its solemnity for me. Some digital-aliasing ugliness has befallen "Medicine Show", but overlook that and the song is classic mid-tempo Big Country, complete with pealing lead-guitar and Stuart's trademark melodic flutters. The delicate "Cimarron" is something like a cross between the "You Dreamer" b-side "Bianca" and Richard Thompson's "Beeswing". And "Without Wings", the last track, is shimmery, sentimental and grand, and I bet Shania Twain or Faith Hill could sell millions of it.
Big Country: Bon Apetit!
The second web-site EP, four songs recorded near Stuart's home in Nashville, doesn't have anything that landed on Driving to Damascus, but I can hear the band rediscovering themselves, a welcome thrill. "Birmingham" is twangy and relaxed, some overdubbed electric solos doing a better job than I might have expected in revealing the elements of Big Country's own personality in what is otherwise an uncharacteristically CSN&Y-esque song. "Living by Memory" is mostly steely blues, but there's just enough Celtic sparkle in the corners to reassure me that Tennessee hasn't corrupted Stuart irretrievably. "Don't You Stay" is gruff and affectionate, rhyming "Does your blood run thin like water?" and "Does he treat you like he ought to?" with an endearing mumble. "Sun and My Shadow" sounds like a second try at "Cimarron". Evidently this one didn't satisfy them, either, but I'm compulsive enough to want to know about all the roads not taken, too.
Big Country: Fragile Thing #1
And by the first commercial single, for the Eddi Reader-assisted "Fragile Thing", there are other things to use as b-sides. "I Get Hurt" is quick and agitated, with squalling guitar, and might have been more in character on No Place Like Home, but the swirling chorus betrays the band's maturity. "John Wayne's Dream" lacks Big Country identity, but I wonder if Lyle Lovett's next album is full yet?
Big Country: Fragile Thing #2
Part two comes in a strange fold-out cardboard case that got it disqualified from the UK sales charts, an inane sacrifice since there's nothing interesting about the package and it means the CD is difficult to remove. The two b-sides here continue in the same vein as the two on part one. "Dust on the Road" is heavily Americanized, Stuart's delivery invoking Neil Young and Tom Petty. "Loserville" is bigger and brasher, battering drums and roaring guitars yearning for arenas to fill.
Big Country: See You / Perfect World #1
The second single is officially a double a-side, which in the modern world means that it was designed for radio DJs, who get to pick one of the two (why they couldn't play them off the album, I don't know), and not for buyers, who get only one b-side on each part. On part one it's a later edition of "This Blood's For You", from In the Scud, cleaned up and chopped up to be more biting than the original demo, but as a result halting and rather less compelling, to me.
Big Country: See You / Perfect World #2
"Camp Smedley's Theme", on part two, is an irregular, keyboard-driven instrumental, which seems to be aimed at some imagined soundtrack glory, but I think "Balcony" and Restless Natives used up Big Country's soundtrack quota, and I doubt this one's stylistic anonymity will qualify it for any loopholes.
astrid: Hi-Fi Lo-Fi
Neither trackthriftiess nor the numbingly familiar two-part malaise afflicts fellow Scots astrid, the first of whose four EPs actually came out in 1998, well before Strange Weather Lately, with four tracks that they didn't even bother to use on the album. "Distance" is bright and unhurried, something like Velvet Crush covering a-ha. "I Can See You" is more insistent, with blaring, metallic verses, but the backing vocals on the choruses lift it out of its gloom. "Can You Feel It" is the closest to Strange Weather Lately's irrepressible good humor, a springy Beatles paean buoyed by warmly distorted guitars, but the jerky "5 O'Clock", halfway between the Jam and the Monkees, is the track that keeps the EP from being completely superceded by the album.
astrid: It's True
The second EP adds three more non-album songs, starting with the delirious "It's True", which sounds like Son Volt sped up as far as they can go without actually turning into the Smurfs. "For Your Girlfriend" slows down again, more like a "Runaway Train" from a universe in which Soul Asylum paid more attention to the early Byrds albums than the later ones. The last song is again my favorite, this time an effervescent exercise in three-part harmony, guitar arpeggios and xylophone accents titled "Boston", although I've been enjoying basking in it too much to try to figure out why.
astrid: High in the Morning
If you don't like the maniacally upbeat "High in the Morning", you're not going to like astrid, so putting two more tracks on the single for it is a pretty empty exercise. The band must not have done this arithmetic, though, as they pogo through the sock-hop strut "The Way I Feel" with equal enthusiasm. The slower "God Song" gets distracted by a misguided attempt at lyrical profundity, which I want from astrid just as much as I want niacin from butterscotch.
"Redground", on the other hand, is less frenetic, and more likely to get astrid described as The Oasis Babies, so the b-sides have more to accomplish. "Complain" could be what the Bay City Rollers would sound like with modern equipment. "Weird Clouds" has traces of Soul Asylum, the Knack and Ned's Atomic Dustbin. When Sloan dreams of leading the ragged guitar revolt against synthetic dance-pop, I think in their heads this is what they sound like.
Geneva: Dollars in the Heavens #1
While we're on the subject of Scottish pop bands with album titles about weather, Weather Underground, the new Geneva album, is also finally here (where by "here" I mean the UK and the parts of the world connected to it via the internet and international postal treaties), but I'm getting into it only slowly, I think because I've listened to "Dollars in the Heavens" so much, since the single came out last November, that all the songs on the album that aren't more of it sound strange and partially unwelcome. Many of its virtues are the same ones the elegantly wilting songs on Further had, but "Dollars in the Heavens" is more muscular, Andrew Montgomery for once sounding like he's leading a rock band instead of a boys' school choir. Ultrasound left a new void in my life when they broke up, and "Dollars in the Heavens" could be the sequel to "I'll Show You Mine" and "Floodlit World" that Ultrasound never got to make, their Pere Ubu urges sanded off and replaced with redemptive melancholy hidden under the thinnest possible layer of triumphant resolve. The angelic and disconsolate "Faintest Tremor in the Weakest Heart", like a Radiohead/Manic Street Preachers hybrid, reverts to the band's old cultivated ennui, but "She's So Familiar", with long interludes of twittering synthesizer noise, purring bass lines, splintered guitar and an extended dub fade-out, resurrects both Ultrasound's sonic intensity and their potentially alienating fondness for extended digressions.
Geneva: Dollars in the Heavens #2
Part two adds the even more endless and meandering "When You Close Your Eyes", a nine-minute exploration of what drum-and-bass might have sounded like if it weren't dance music. Dave Fridmann's remix of the album track "Museum Mile", however, counterbalances the distracted drift of the first song with resilient and unapologetic pop, cracking drums and firm piano thwarting Montgomery's attempts to undermine the song's amiable grace with his world-weary vocal presence.
Geneva: Dollars in the Heavens 7"
There's also one more b-side on the "limited edition" seven-inch (limited to three thousand; are there that many people who still buy seven-inch singles?), a becalmed mechano-lullaby called "Echo Chamber" with, as you might guess from the title, lots of sounds of things echoing away into the middle distance. Those of you without turntables, or who overslept by three or four minutes and so couldn't get to the record store in time to be one of the first clamoring three thousand, are not missing a highlight.
Geneva: If You Have to Go #1
"If You Have to Go", the second single, abandons "Dollars in the Heavens"' rock ambitions and returns to Geneva's native idiom, fragile, sugary pop keyed by Montgomery's agile falsetto, perhaps one part Belle and Sebastian, one Oasis and one Radiohead, playing each off the other to avoid ever sounding coy, bored or suicidal (respectively). The "Aloof Mix" of the album track "Have You See the Horizon Lately?" turns a meditation into an anxious daydream, invasive drums and swooping synthesizers refusing to let Montgomery's plaintive question hang in the air unanswered. "Vostok" is left alone, though, an understated parlor piece built out of diffident piano, subdued strings and a few mildly baroque keyboard flourishes.
Geneva: If You Have to Go #2
Part two has only one b-side, but it's my favorite of the entire set, an intricate Keith Graham anthem called "Mindreading" that, if the band shared my conviction that they could be Ultrasound's heirs (and weren't offended that I want a band I already liked for their own qualities to also take on the ghost of another one) ought to have been the a-side of this single, as it is both ambitious and cohesive, always steering the straying verses back to a straightforward chorus.
In place of a second b-side this disc contains the video for "Dollars in the Heavens". The British are famous for something called "sarcasm", which Geneva demonstrate here by filming themselves driving through the Nevada desert in a convertible, then rolling a single die in Vegas, then driving off into the sunset with an enormous glowing suitcase of money in the back seat. My derision towards this pathetically over-simplified interpretation of the American Dream would be more convincing if the process of waiting for the software company I work for to go public wasn't so much like driving through the Nevada desert in a convertible, hoping that we find Vegas before the bottled water runs out.
Geneva: If You Have to Go 7"
This time around the vinyl is a limited edition of only one thousand, perhaps confirming my grim assessment of the size of the market. The song, "Bring Down the Sun", lacks energy, and the attempt to impart some by printing "45 rpm" on the label, when the track was actually pressed at 33, would have been cleverer if speeding up Montgomery's falsetto didn't produce a noise alarmingly reminiscent of a dental drill.
Tori Amos: Glory of the 80's #1
Part one of the final UK single from Tori's to venus and back (the one with the blue type) has two more recordings from the same tour as the live half of the album, the first a solo performance of Leonard Cohen's "Famous Blue Raincoat", which was Tori's contribution to the Cohen tribute Tower of Song. Tori usually slows covers down to the verge of implosion, but she does this one at an organic, if unhurried, pace, playing it comfortably, like a song of her own, instead of somebody else's she's trying to reconceive. Her own "Twinkle", in fact, the second b-side, turns out to be a very rare example of a live version that's less spare than the album one, as the fitful one- and two-note piano runs finally allow her second hand to join in, revealingly, right as she reaches "I killed a man, T, / I've got to stay hidden in this abbey". Maybe this seemed too obvious, when she was figuring out how to end Boys for Pele, a world opening up, psychologically, as a person goes into physical hiding. But I'll now hear the song this way in my head, forever.
Tori Amos: Glory of the 80's #2
The songwriting credits for "Famous Blue Raincoat" and "Twinkle" are reversed, in the tray card for part one, and "Famous Blue Raincoat" is listed as just "Blue Raincoat", but part two goes a step further by claiming to contain live versions of "Baker Baker" and "Winter". These would be superfluous for those of us in the US, since the same two tracks were already used as the b-sides to the domestic "1000 Oceans" single, but it doesn't matter, because they aren't on here. The actual contents are the same as part one.
Tori Amos: Concertina
The winners are the people who ignored both parts of "Glory of the 80's", as the same two tracks, credited properly this time, are the b-sides to the final US single, for "Concertina", and with them you even get the video for "Glory of the 80's". Or, you used to get it, except you have to connect to Atlantic Records' web site to see it, and at the moment their web site is not responding. Luckily I have no desire to see it again.
Alanis Morissette: "Still"
The soundtrack to Dogma is mostly the film's orchestral score, which I don't care about in any way, but it does contain the Alanis Morissette song, "Still", which plays over the movie's credits, and if I didn't mind spending twenty-six dollars for two Tori recordings, I was hardly going to balk at $12.88 for one new Alanis song. "Still" follows the template of "Uninvited", her song for City of Angels, almost exactly, the arrangement stark at the outset but turning overloaded and symphonic by the middle. "Uninvited" was a random marketing inclusion on its soundtrack, but Alanis not only wrote "Still" specifically for Dogma, she even wrote it from the point of view of her character in the movie. What other songwriter would be willing to attempt, in compassionate seriousness, a song whose narrator is God, I do not know.
The great irony of Alanis playing God, for me, is that in my theology she's the definitive human figure, compelling precisely because she's in no way angelic. I doubt I'll ever be asked to cast the role of a singing God, but I have my two alternatives in mind, depending on the nature of the God. For the song of an incomprehensible God, which is the only kind that makes any sense to me, I'd get Tori. If we wanted a beneficent God, though, a conventional God as an abstraction of what humans do know, for a story in which there's really an afterlife, and it consists of floating around in fluffy clouds, bathed in our personal conceptions of eternal rapture, then there's a long list of candidate songs but they're almost all by Roxette. "Salvation" would do. Marie Fredriksson's voice is exquisite, the twinkling pianos and ringing acoustic guitars are flawless, the drums are understated but necessary, the lyrics are pleasant and mindless in the way that they'd have to be if you're going to listen to them for the rest of time. The gauzy, drifting "See Me", the first b-side on this single, is even more angelic, but it's just Marie and Clarence Öfwerman, and eternity wouldn't be complete without Per. "Crazy About You" (repeated, I assume by popular demand, from the 1995 single for "You Don't Understand Me") is inappropriate, as I doubt we'll want to be reminded about sex when we're disembodied. If it's a nostalgic afterlife, though, one in which we want to spend our time looking back on a life conducted with aplomb, and one in which we don't mind the intrusion of the occasional lip-synching animatronic duck, then there might be room for the charming video to "Stars", which is the fourth thing on this single (included as a plain, self-sufficient .mpg file, the way God intended). But then, if it leaves out b-sides, even one, it's obviously not my paradise.