GALAXIE 500 Copenhagen (Rykodisc)
Galaxie 500 are a long-gone Boston trio who played slow-motion Velvets-influenced drone rock just as grunge was in the ascendant, leaving a legacy of three studio albums, a mention in one of Liz Phairs finest songs, "Stratford-On-Guy", and this recently released CD, recorded by Danish National Radio on what would turn out to be the last date of their last European tour in December 1990.
Despite the fact that a quick game of Spot-The-Influence with Galaxie 500 would turn out to be just that (youd be struggling after you had nailed down the Velvet Underground comparison), elements of their music are clearly apparent in many alternative bands that have followed after them. The sadcore movement would look a lot more self indulgent if Dean Warehams whining vocals on laugh-a-minute crawlers like "Decomposing Trees" hadnt mapped out much of the groundwork first, and "Fourth Of July" - with lyrics like "I decided to have a bed-in/But I forgot to invite anybody" - just has to be the ultimate slacker anthem.
Even so, although Ive been playing this a lot recently I havent yet warmed to the music of Galaxie 500. Maybe its the crawling tempos which make Dinosaur Jr look like Goldie, or the way a selection of Yoko Ono, Velvets (of course!) and Jonathan Richman covers are tagged onto the end of the gig (each executed in the G500 house style) as if to say "Check out how diverse our record collections are!". Still, maybe if I hear their studio output - now collected as a 4 CD box set by the ever-considerate Rykodisc - itll make a deal more sense, because I reckon there just has to be more to the band whose debut album was Thurston Moores "favorite guitar record of 1988"
GALAXIE 500 The Portable Galaxie 500 (Rykodisc)
Rykodisc, the world's most caring, sharing record company (if only they'd get round to releasing their stuff on vinyl...) spearhead another brave attempt to convert the music-loving world to the cause of Galaxie 500 with this hour-long 'assortment of the songs that represent what many fans love and cherish about the band: their individuality and subtlety and musical alchemy'. Unfortunately for me "The Portable Galaxie 500" only widens the chasm between how good Galaxie 500 appear on paper and how good they sound in practice. Apparently true fans would show their appreciation at gigs by shouting "Slower! Quieter!", which just about sums up the pace of this album. When they work themselves into a stately trot, as on the almost classic "Fourth Of July", their music gets quite interesting, but for most of the time it just sounds like middle America slackers on a mission to whinge. Cover versions of Yoko Ono's "Listen, The Snow Is Falling" and a one-chord assault on Jonathan Richman's "Don't Let Our Youth Go To Waste" serve to highlight the distressing lack of variety of their own songwriting, and despite this being the second CD here to feature a booklet quote from Thurston Moore (the first being the Dinosaur Jr article reviewed above) Sonic Youth-style incendiary guitar pyrotechnics are only conspicuous by their absence. Still, if you like Galaxie 500 "The Portable..." is almost certainly a blast, and the "Blue Thunder" video tagged on the end is a welcome addition now I've finally got PC technology capable of handling it (although I don't think the video loses much in translation, the fuzzy, jerky playback quality and sub-CD booklet-sized window not exactly detracting from the original).