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Wayward Bus/Distant Plastic Tr Best of

4.3 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 15 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Best of
  • Label: Merge Records
  • ASIN: B0000019NK
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #80,419 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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1. When You Were My Baby
2. The Saddest Story Ever Told
3. Lovers From The Moon
4. Candy
5. Tokyo A Go-Go
6. Summer Lies
7. Old Orchard Beach
8. Jeremy
9. Dancing In Your Eyes
10. Suddenly There Is A Tidal Wave
11. (Untitled)
12. Railroad Boy
13. Smoke Signals
14. You Love To Fail
15. Kings
16. Babies Falling
17. Living In An Abandoned Firehouse With You
18. Tar-Heel Boy
19. Falling In Love With The Wolfboy
20. Josephine
See all 21 tracks on this disc

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
First of all, the ordering of the songs bugs me. The second album, 'The Wayward Bus' (c.1992), is placed before the first album, 'Distant Plastic Trees' (c.1991) on the CD. It's just a minor annoyance.
Both albums are sung entirely by Susan Anway (formerly of the Boston punk group "V" in the early 1980s). She decided to move to to Arizona in 1991 and left the vocal duties to Stephin Merritt. He has wonderfully unique baritone voice, which is slightly reminiscent of Johnny Cash. The songs might have been better had he sung them. Anyway on with the review.
Overall, 'The Wayward Bus' album is better than 'Distant Plastic Trees'.
The only bad song on 'Wayward Bus' is 'Toyko A Go-Go' (it's bad compared with the other songs on 'The Wayward Bus' and future albums.)
High points on this album are 'Candy', 'Lovers From The Moon', 'Dancing In Your Eyes', and 'Jeremy'.
Seperating the albums is an untitled silence track which goes on for 4 minutes and 32 seconds, which seems a bit too long (I almost forgot there was another album afterwards).
Now their first album. 'Distant Plastic Trees' is probably the worst thing the Magnetic Fields ever released (compared to other Magnetic Fields albums; it's much better than a lot of things out there at the time).
High points are 'Railroad Boy' (which I rank as one of my favorite MF songs), 'You Love To Fail', 'Tarheel Boy', and, of course, the college radio hit '100,000 Fireflies'.
'Kings' and 'Babies Falling' are okay songs, but the worst songs (compared to the other songs) on this album.
Well, overall the CD is a good interesting listen, even if it cronicles the weakest period of the band in reverse. Keep in mind: This shouldn't be an introduction to the band. I suggest 'Holiday' or '69 Love Songs' for that.
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Format: Audio CD
Since I love "69 Love Songs" I was eager to check out Merritt's back catalogue. Bad move. I have three more albums now, this one, "The charm of the Highway Strip" and "Get Lost". None of them are even near any resemblance to the quality and range of styles we know from "69". I will not buy any more Merritt albums, unless he comes up with something new that can compare with "69".
This "two albums for the price of one" disc is by many concidered to be one of Merritt's best. It leaves me headscratching.
Some albums simply doesn't make any sense to me, and this is one of them. No mattter how I try, I simply can't figure out what on earth it was meant to accomplish.
It is by far the most monotonous sounding pop album I have ever heard in my life. The arrangements seems to have no direction at all. It's like a hotchpotch of droning sounds smashed together at random. At least, this album gives the term "wall of sound" a completely new meaning to me. And it sounds the same all the way through (except from Tokyo a Go-go, which sounds like a really bad one from the Eurovision Song Contest).
Singer Susan Anway sings in the same emotionless manner all the way through, like if she was completely unaware of the heavy, sirupy sound machinery surrounding her.
I must admit, the contrast makes me smile. She sounds just so phenomenally lost and LONELY it's actually worth checking out.
On top of it all, the production is intetionally horrible.
Should I describe the music on this album very simply, I would have to say that it sounds just like karaoke from hell.
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Format: Audio CD
Some of the best songs on this two-album CD are "100,000 Fireflies," "The Saddest Story Every Told," and "Jeremy." Susan Anway does the vocals on this CD, but she left the band and Stephin Merritt did the vocals on subsequent releases. I find her vocals more pleasing than Stephin's, but the vocals seem more heartfelt when Stephin sings. The lyrics from "Railroad Boy" (on this CD) seem to summarize it, "I will not sing your ugly songs..." She does a beautiful job on these songs, but the lyrics suggest a more melancholy aspect.
The songwriting is superb, and the variety of instruments used on this CD is great. There's a "Magnetic Fields" sound here that is hard to describe, melodic but melancholic, and impressionistic and almost familiar.
If you've seen the TV show "The Adventures of Pete & Pete," you'll recognize many Magnetic Fields songs, one such on this album is "Lovers From the Moon."
The first album on this CD, "The Wayward Bus," is much better than the second album. The second half of the CD is much darker and moody, and the songs seem to drag on a little too long without going anywhere. I would give the second half 3 stars, while the first half gets 5 stars. However, the song "100,000 Fireflies" is a real gem of a song and it alone makes this CD worth getting.
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Format: Audio CD
This is my favourite of all the Magnetic Fields releases to date. It contains their first album 'Distant Plastic Trees' (minus one track - 'Plant White Roses'). It's is a strange and beautiful record full of songs that use unusual structures and orchestrations ('Babies Falliing' is little more than a folk song sung over sounds of trickling and noise, 'Living In An Abandoned Firehouse with You' uses warm atmospheric electronics and a great melody, 'Kings' is again a seemingly unstructured piece with a bizzare melody and odd backing track). On this CD all tracks are sung by Susan Anway who negotiates herself like a zombie through Stephin Merritt's lyrical word play and electronic musical mazes. The effect is stunning and not distancing as it may at first sound. Lurking amongst the obscurities is the alterna-hit '100'000 Fireflies' which sounds positively conventional in this setting.
The rest of the CD (the first 10 tracks) are made up of The Wayward Bus songs which were recorded after the Distant Plastic Trees tracks. . Susan Anway is again your vocalist de jour and these songs are great in an intirely different way. There's a Phil Spector-ish vibe filtered through the Merritt lo-fi home recording system on songs like "When You Were My Baby" and "The Saddest Story Ever Told". There's the odd stinker ('Tokyo A Go Go' anyone?) but so many moments of divinity ('Candy', 'Jeremy', 'Like Lovers From the Moon') easily outweigh. Track 11 is 4 and a half mintues of silnce that separate the two sections of the CD - Why? Who knows, just chalk it up as one of the mysteries of the Magnetic Fields.
I can take or leave some of the later efforts such as the 69 Love Songs extravaganza, but The Wayward Bus is a CD I constantly revisit.
PS: Oh and can I just add how nice it is to again see the attractive artwork of Wendy Smith on the cover (she did the cover art for the band, Weekend, in the 1980's).
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