Various - Gimme Skelter (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Gimme Skelter (2003)

Nettwerk / Buddyhead

I reiterate a single point in all my compilation reviews. That point is that a good compilation should play like any other full-length record. It should have some coherence stylistically, musically or lyrically. It should flow well and the songs should be arranged with just as much, if not more, care than a single band's album. While it may be relatively easy and successful to promote bands with low-priced label samplers, the glut of these on the market has soured expectations that comps are anything more than disposable. Keep your finger on the skip button. Find the bands you like. Get the comp the hell off your shelf so make room for a real album.

Gimme Skelter proves the point that with some care and effort, compilations can actually have substance. Iggy Pop MC's the record, opening with the rather hilarious "New York City Is Beating Its Chest… Again" and popping up throughout. Overall Skelter's a mix of US alt rock ("grunge" if we have to call it that) and bands with a post-punk vibe (more than a few from Buddyhead's LA scene). It's hard to argue choice unreleased cuts from respectable groups like Mudhoney ("Hard-On For War") or Wire ("Spent (Louder, Faster Mix)"). Primal Scream's live recording of XTRMNTR track "Shoot Speed / Kill Light" sounds fantastic and has boundless energy.

There's been a lot of talk about the Pinkerton-era Weezer track "You Won't Get With Me Tonight," and it's deserved. The song's a grower but definitely has that elusive spirit that later Weezer records have been missing. Equally worthwhile are Cave-In's rocking Antenna-demo "Harmless, Armless / Minus World" and Your Enemies Friends urgent remix of "Back Of A Taxi." Even buzz band Yeah Yeah Yeah's track "Shot Down" manages to cut through the silly amounts of hype they've had lumped on them and fits in well

There's a denseness to this record. At times it seems to get lost in the distorted drone of some of the moodier tracks, but the fuzzed out mix on most of these songs works well. There's also a close balance between "art-for-art's-sake" songs and more honest material on the record. For the most part the songs are arranged so that the more hooky ones keep the momentum from ever seriously falling off. I don't regularly listen to quite a few of the bands on here, but Gimme Skelter's success as a compilation makes it so that I'm not inclined to sit with my finger on the skip button (see, there's that point again!).

This is a worth owning just to remind yourself what compilations sound like when they're not put together like Sears catalogues.