on February 24, 2003
The music of Galaxie 500, like the music of Nick Drake, lends itself well to compilations, because it all sounds so similar. It would be difficult to put together a collection of songs by either artist that did not hold together well. For that very same reason, however, compilations are unnecessary. You can get the same high quality listening experience by buying one of the original albums, and then if you like it you can buy the others. With Galaxie 500, the best place to start is "On Fire," and you won't go wrong with "Today" either. (Stay away from "This Is Our Music," however. That one only contains a few good songs.)
"The Portable Galaxie 500" is a nice selection, but like all other fans of the band, I do have my quibbles about some of the omissions, especially "Temperature's Rising," "It's Getting Late," and "Isn't It A Pity." The compilers also missed a golden opportunity by failing to include "The Other Side," a magnificent track with Naomi singing lead, which as far as I know is only available in the boxed set (a virtually impossible-to-find item right now--at a reasonable price, that is). Furthermore--and I may be completely alone in this opinion--I can't stand the saxophone version of "Blue Thunder" included here, while the "straight" version of that song (from "On Fire") is my favorite Galaxie 500 song.
So if you're looking to test the waters with this great band, go straight to the original releases. Other reviewers on this site have already provided some wonderful descriptions of the Galaxie 500 sound, so no need for a recap here.
on March 13, 2000
...but this compilation is far from doing justice to the mindblowing talents of Dean, Damon and Naomi. There are so many injustices in the selection of songs considered "best of" G500 that this record should be illegal in 48 states. Please! Where's "King of Spain", "Oblivious", "Hearing Voices", "Melt Away" and, at least, half of the songs from "On Fire"? Please! Don't tell me they didn't fit the CD! Ask Robert Pollard how many songs he used to put in a compact disc! Nevertheless it's an amazing band performing amazing songs, all soulful, melodic and so simple it makes your heart ache and your head slip away for a few minutes. Just damn beautiful. "Blue Thunder" is something out of this world. Although, if you want some ALL THE GLORY of Galaxie 500, do yourself a big favour and buy all three albums (or the G500 Box-set). Newcomers can begin with "On Fire". But it's all good. You won't be making a mistake if it's your heart that's still beating in your chest. You got the idea, right? It's a great LP, I only gave it 3 stars for the many songs missing.
on August 29, 1999
This "best-of" of the wonderful Galaxie 500 does them more than justice by wisely pulling off all of the high points from their three albums. the alternate version of "Blue Thunder" is especially affecting, what with the addition of devastating saxophone-- the broken-apart climax that Galaxie 500 always hinted around without ever tipping over that edge. Blue Thunder is worth your hard-earned money as it is. The somber "Flowers" follows, giving you that feeling of watching someone you're totally enamored with live their life apart from you-- all in the snow, of course. Other high points include the cover of Yoko Ono's "Listen..." and "Another Day," their best song, in my opinion, shich again nearly breaks down with it's trying-to-keep-it-together vocal harmonies. I get misty-eyed just thinking about it. "Tugboat" ends this set, centering around the line "there's a place I'd like to be." Thanks to Dean and crew, we're there with him.
on April 29, 2000
I did the Dean Wareham thing backwards. I started with Luna and figured I couldn't go wrong with Galaxie because I LOVE Luna. However, the style of Galaxie is different. The lyrics weren't quite as clever, and the tunes weren't as satisfying as any of the Luna stuff I have (expect perhaps Pup Tent). However, I do have the distinct feeling that Galaxie is music that grows on you. If you're a Luna fan, give Galaxie a spin, but don't expect instant gratification.