What a travesty that most people still don't even know about this band. Routinely called Michelle Branch's 'side project', The Wreckers have proven to be one of the most seminal alt-country bands in history, despite the fact that they have just one proper studio album to their name.
My own love affair with this band began many years ago when I bought a copy of the 'One Tree Hill' Soundtrack (the first in the series). On it was a song called 'The Good Kind', which I played over and over, shocked that such a gem was hidden away on a soundtrack album that not many people would buy in the first place. Cut to a little while later when I find that the group consists of Michelle Branch and the (stunning) Jessica Harp, whose melodies harken back to a time when harmonizing was king. Listen to their voices blend. What production!
"Stand Still, Look Pretty" remains the Wreckers' only studio album, at the time of writing. Thankfully, the album holds up to repeat listening, and alongwith Dolly Partons' "All I Can Do" album from 1976, remains my favorite country album. Many country purists would argue that this isn't country music per se, but I beg to differ. Its far removed from the pop-country leanings of say, Shania Twain, but its also more elitist in many ways - comparable to Lucinda Williams. For the record, I thoroughly enjoyed this album much more than contemporary straight-forward country releases such as "Carnival Ride" by Underwood.
The reason why this live album is important is because, a) we do not know if the Wreckers will ever come together to record a second studio album, and b) they perform songs that appear on "Stand Still, Look Pretty", as well as rarities you can't get anywhere else. The product also contains the STUNNING live DVD of the whole performance. Its rare that both CD and DVD of one single performance would hold up to repeated listening, but it certainly does over here. I remember getting Madonna's "Confessions Tour" CD and DVD pack last year. While the DVD was great, I couldn't bother listening to the audio CD even once, and didn't even bother ripping it to my Itunes.
Not so with this compilation. Every song here is a winner, but the greatest track "Way Back Home" simply soars. Perennial favorite and their hit Country Single "Leave the Pieces" also features, and sounds every bit as lovely as it first did on country radio. Also of importance is "Tennessee", which I always felt was an underrated classic on the original album. The girls do indulge in some awkward stage banter here - flitting about with personal experiences and some mild trivia, but this only makes them more endearing.
At the end of it, The Wreckers solidly deserve mainstream success, and a whole lot of respect from both the folk and country music movement. The women have some great tunes, excellent delivery and harmonizing, and some really, really thought-provoking lyrics. None of your sappy teen romances here - the lyrics are poignant and read like poetry - stellar stuff.
A truly solid live album that deserves a place in every country music lovers' collection. You'll be thanking me for years to come. Just get this.