Big D and the Kids Table - Built Up From Nothing: The D Sides and Strictly Dub (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Big D and the Kids Table

Built Up From Nothing: The D Sides and Strictly Dub (2012)

SideOneDummy Records

Built Up From Nothing: The D Sides and Strictly Dub is a trove of riches for fans of Big D and the Kids Table. Essentially a rarities double album, it crams a whole mess of discarded songs that never quite fit on the band's records over the years (The D Sides) and extended takes of popular tunes (Strictly Dub) onto a couple of discs.

Given that it collects songs from over the course of a decade or so, the D Sides portion is all over the place in terms of style and production quality, so there's not a whole lot going on in terms of flow. But the band also throws in radio interviews and commentary in between tracks anyway. Sometimes they drop insights into the band's writing process; sometimes it's just random snippets.

Overall, it's clear why some of the tunes were left off proper full-lengths ("DQ Girl" doesn't get too far beyond its product placement), and some of the demo tracks don't really need to be here. But there are quite a few awesome tracks scattered around ranging from the band's ska-punk years ("#5," "Moping For Equality") to their mellower more recent material ("Half Way Home," a Strictly Rude vinyl-only bonus track that's also one of the band's best songs). Like most rarities compilations, The D Sides is uneven, but it's still definitely a strong collection.

But it's not quite as strong as the Strictly Dub section. Big D has written so many tightly wound ska-punk tunes that it's sometimes easy to forget they're pretty good at jamming out live. Strictly Dub sets the record straight, delivering a whole mess of reinterpretations that showcase the band's other strengths. Granted, some of the tunes didn't quite need to be here ("Strictly Rude" was already pretty dub; we didn't need three more versions), but this set showcases a totally different side of the band that's only been offered in glimpses before.

Built Up From Nothing is an excellent placeholder while the D works on their next proper full-length. Given their history, they were about due for a retrospective like this one anyway.