Patient Suffers From Severe Sandanista Syndrome
There is always something extremely macabre about the death of a musician. Unlike their counterparts in the film or sports world, who are usually apostatized after the media’s customary two-week tabloid shiva, they usually get but one day of news coverage. After a year though, it seems anyone and everyone is robbing the crypt in the quest to make some quick cash. All of a sudden, every bit of audio in the life of the departed gets crammed onto on “definitive B-sides” compilation with a commemorative essay by ?uestlove, Cameron Crowe or Henry Rollins that let’s you know how cool they are for knowing about this before you were even born. The fact of the matter is, no matter how awesome any act is, there’s usually a good reason why certain tracks get shelved. The latest compilations from the Reatards, Teenage Hate and Fuck Elvis Here’s the Reatards, combine to make the newest and most exaggerated example.
Quick on the heels of Jay Reatard documentary Better Than Something: Jay Reatard, these releases suffer from Sandanista-syndrome. Like their punk predecessor, there are some genuinely good songs to be found here, though in this case, they’re a bit of a morbid teaser to how good the Reatards might have become. Songs like “Memphis Blues” and “Not Good Enough For You” seem to seamlessly channel Joe Strummer and early Roky Erikson, exploding into surprisingly sweet solos from out of nowhere, as if Jay Reatard were trying on their styles like outfits, intent on finding the best fit. Unfortunately, you have to wade through a fair bit of crap to get to the good stuff. To add insult to injury, Fuck Elvis was originally a DIY cassette recording, and since ProTools can’t work miracles, the low fidelity comes out pretty harsh on a decent pair of speakers.
If this had been a single album of just the unrecorded gems, it might have arguably been one of the better Reatards albums. Unfortunately, your best bet here is to make a separate playlist of the great songs and just pretend that’s the album proper.