Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Delta 5 / Singles & Sessions 1979-81 / Rating 8.3

"This paradox of astringency and humor provides rich yet unsentimental facets for topics ranging from infidelity and feminism to suspicion. Most importantly, though, this is music you can really dance to-"

I wonder if Delta 5 was Corey Flood’s favorite band. You may perhaps know Corey better as the “Joe Lies” girl (played by Lili Taylor) from the movie Say Anything. I love Delta 5, they were the first female post punk band I really fell in love with years ago (I mean they have two bass players for double your dub pleasure, yeah!!!), but when you line up all their songs in one place as Kill Rock Stars has done for us, one thing becomes abundantly clear: all of their songs are seemingly about relationship issues and feelings about another person. The spectacular 18 page liner notes try to put an intellectual spin on the one track mind approach to lyrics but it is hard to ignore the obvious: Delta 5 were the emotional damaged goods of post-punk.

One sided conversations that yes "you can dance to" these are some of the greatest angular rock songs around but their lyrics carry a repetitive theme that doesn’t exactly help to solidify these tracks as a group. Instead it sheds a rather one dimensional light on their song writing skills, even though their one dimension is a mighty fine one. This isn’t meant to trash the band or this collection; I am grateful to have all these songs in one place with thoughtful packaging (including a brief note written by Jon Langford of the Mekons), but hearing all of Delta 5’s material back to back made me wonder if their music was meant to be heard in this fashion. Some bands give good singles and the record collector jerk in me prefers to think of D5 in this way. These are undeniably great songs but I stand by my preference for D5 singles and my disappointment in their singular focus on feelings and more feelings. (with a wink towards politics)

The PFM review does what most reviews do and deservedly should- kiss some legendary ass and give credit where credit is long over due. If you buy this singles+ collection you will also realize that A) the PFM review is basically short hand notes of the cd’s liner notes meets Allmusic and B) the liner notes are impressive enough that they should be considered a key point of interest and therefore should have been mentioned in the PFM review. Then again if your review is basically the liner notes rewritten maybe you don’t want to reveal your source of inspiration.

Licensing an entire band’s catalog is often impossible due to legal restrictions and publishing rights scattered all over the place but if you are going to do a retrospective of a band that released a handful of material over a span of 3 years, why not go for the bold and put it all on one disc with the disclaimer that some songs are better then others but here they all are. Follow the red bouncing ball through their entire career as a band; now that is what I would call a cd worthy of an 8.3 rating.