album review: grinderman 2 rmx, grinderman
It’s almost a new record by Grinderman… Here we have Grinderman 2 RMX, a kind of appendix to the band’s last studio release, Grinderman 2 (which followed their debut Grinderman; don’t worry though, they are far more inventive than their album titles would suggest). It comes after frontman Nick Cave announced the band’s dissolution on stage at last year’s Meredith Festival in Victoria. So is it a last ditch attempt at wringing some coin out of desperate fans, or an album worthy of consideration in its own right?
We open with the Nick Zinner remix of ‘Bellringer Blues’, a more coherent and upbeat version than the original which provides the perfect contrast – sleigh bells, hand claps and all – to the song’s lyrical content. The song describes how Gabriel – the angel, one can only assume – is trying to “sell” a certain book to Cave, who turns it down complaining that “it makes slaves of the womankind/corpses of the men”.
The next three songs on the album are remixes (one featuring a guest vocalist, Matt Berninger) of Grinderman 2’s ‘Evil’. It is not as though any of these alternate versions are particularly bad, but they fail to distinguish themselves, firstly from the original, and secondly, from each other. Thus, we are left with what feels like a 12 minute long extended version of ‘Evil’. In a word? Unnecessary.
From there we have an assortment of mostly remixes, with a couple of collaborative alternate takes, that either fall short of their predecessors, or are not significantly better. Though, towards the end there is also a complete cover version of ‘When My Baby Comes’ by Cat’s Eyes (one half of which is Faris Badwan, the vocalist of The Horrors) with Luke Tristram, which takes the song down the darker, grimier, more distorted path that we would expect from these musicians. The next track is the SixToes remix of the same song, which actually turns out to be the highlight of the album. Here ‘When My Baby Comes’ is given a more paired-down, sometimes almost tribal, sometimes classical, feel. Finally, with track number 11 out of 12, we are given a song that surpasses its forebear.
The problem might not be specifically with the album, but with the time and place in which it is being released. Namely, one that includes rampant uses – and abuses, some record companies might argue – of the Internet. If people like an album so much that they want more – the b-sides, outtakes, remixes – then chances are they’ll know a place to go. And it won’t be a record shop and it definitely won’t be the iTunes store. Maybe in the past there was a place for this piece of work as a record on our shelves, but that time is over. Now, the songs here deserve to be found scattered in amongst the Nick Cave collection in your laptop’s media player, certainly, but no more than that.