Ah, the humble band-related compilation, you do us proud again. Subtitled ‘A Collection of Musical Influences & Inspirations’, it is in a way quite difficult to see what the act of Super Furry Animals picking the songs that inspired them most could teach the listener about where the Furry ‘sound’ came from. After all, SFA aren’t one of those bands who could simply play their blissfully unaware aficionados someone like The Smiths or New Order and suddenly their fans know where they got all their ideas from. Yet in another way it’s blatantly obvious why this compilation has happened – it’s an excuse to re-release some bloody good tunes. SFA are firm believers that there’s only two types of music, and here succeed in only providing the good stuff.
It’s testament to the Super Furries’ wilful eclecticism that, with each of the five members choosing three tracks each, the resulting compilation has variety on a number of levels. Indeed, it’s to the extent that you’re treated to the operatics of Jussi Bjoerling’s ‘Au Fond Du Temple Saint’ and the Subbuteo-related punk family feuding of The Undertones’ ‘My Perfect Cousin’ in the same seventy minutes. With the aim of the collection in mind, it’s pretty obvious to see the ‘influence’ in places, but less so in others – for instance, it’s undoubted that SFA owe a great deal to the psychedelic lyrics and sonically lush harmonies in ‘Feel Flows’ by The Beach Boys, but I’ve yet to think of a non-tenuous link from the Furries’ music to Dawn Penn’s ‘You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No)’. But there’s all sorts here to dwell upon, from the sprawling and stealthily climactic like Underworld’s ’Rez’ to the purposefully to-the-point which here occurs shortly after the announcement of “Kick Out The Jams, muvvafucka!”. There’s the cult – the Peel-championed Welsh antics of Datblygu - the classic – the impenetrable funk of Sly & The Family Stone - and the steadfastly unfashionable – namely ELO’s ‘Telephone Line’, which, for the record, is utterly brilliant. There’s even room for former Ankst label-mates and purveyors of pastel whimsy Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci. Lovely.
Like the Super Furry live show of recent years, the collection stumbles headfirst into dance territory near the end, not only with the aforementioned Underworld but also with techno-bods Humanoid, Joey Beltram and Hardfloor. Although it works, those only interested/aware in, like, the SFA’s songs with, like, lyrics and everything, may find it hard going. Not that they should really, and not that it matters when it’s this good. By the close of the CD I’ve learnt little about how the Super Furries managed to get to where they are (hey, magicians rarely reveal their secrets, why should they?), but it has made me fall in love roughly fifteen times over, so one of its purposes was served.
8Thomas Blatchford's Score