Lately, it seems there's a new collection of "B-sides, rarities, live and unreleased tracks" coming out every week. While talking about these on the air, I've mused that record companies put these together for any number of reasons: The band broke up; the band didn't get a chance to release some material before the singer was found face down in the toilet or the drummer left to form an experimental didgeridoo collective; or, the band has left the label. So it's kinda like the "blood from a stone" release, where a record company tries to get some money out of the ungrateful bastards who were selfish enough to turn their backs on the label even though they were making an astounding 3 percent on every 10 albums sold. Try to avoid these collections; chances are, you have most of what they are selling or there's a reason these songs were never offered to you in the first place. Plus, the band is only going to see about four cents from your $18, and if you love them—to paraphrase Sting—please set them free. But another explanation is that the band and the label want to reward the listener with quality songs you might not get to hear otherwise. Two Northwest bands, one young and one old, have just released these catch-all collections. Modest Mouse's Building Nothing Out of Something (UP) features songs from its obscure 7-inch releases; the band is still together and set to conquer the free world. Best of all, you won't have to buy this one on a 1-800 number. Mudhoney's March to Fuzz (Sub Pop) is a two-CD retrospective of these grunge godfathers, with a best-of CD and a nice collection of unreleased songs. These two variations on the B-sides, rarities, etc. album offer a glimpse into the future and the past of the Northwest music scene, and also remind you why you live in it.
You can hear bootlegs of John's show Monday through Friday from 6 to 10am on 90.3 FM and live online at www.kcmu.org.