Music Review: “As You Were” by Brother (2006)

[asyouwerecd-side3.jpg]"As You Were" is a compilation of fan-selected favorites from Brother’s 13-year pre-Pax Romana repitoire, from Black White to Urban Cave. The tracks chosen, though limited to only one disc, match up well to my personal favorites mix, Point of View.

To fit as many songs as possible, most of the tracks have been edited down. The following is my review of the selected tracks and how they were edited. The grading scheme is as follows.

  1. Really Bad
  2. Bad
  3. OK
  4. Good
  5. Excellent

1. 2 Chairs and One Tree (then = 4:04, now = 3:52)

One of my favorites from Your Backyard, this is definitely a good pick. I’m fairly certain the only edit is a shortened fade-out, which is fine by me. I might use this track in the next version of Point of View. Score: 4/5

2. Crazy (same length)

I’m so glad the i you you me version was chosen over the lifeless Urban Cave version. This a fun tune with a somewhat serious message about getting sucked into life on the internet (including a reference to net porn). The chorus lyirc "I don’t want that hangin’ over me" resonates strongly with my life. Score 5/5

3. The Crow (then = 4:29, now = 3:55)

In its original form, this Exit From Screechville track is my favorite Brother song. This edited version, though, cuts the intro by a couple measures and has an abbreviated guitar solo (the edit happens at about 3:00). Score 4/5

4. One Heart, One Soul (then = 6:00, now  = 3:51)

The original version, found on The Digging Bone, is really long, so the copious editing isn’t a surprise. The abruptness of them, though, is a bit jarring. There are a couple obvious cuts at about 0:05 and 0:43. They also cut the very best part of the song, the vocoder-distorted guitar solo that ought to appear at about 2:43. Score 3/5

5. River (then = 3:25, now = 3:10)

Of all the edited tracks, this is the best. River is one of the bright spots on the otherwise annoying Urban Cave. What makes this cut so good is the purging of the spoken bits ("Ah, there it is", etc). While not outstanding, River is now a solidly good song. Score: 4/5

6. Believe Again (then = 3:26, now = 3:08)

*Yawn* This middle-of-the-road "You’re my personal hero" ballad from i you you me has never been one of my favorites. It’s not unpleasant, but it’s nothing special. Also, I’ve always thought the use of "seethe" was a bit strained if not entirely wrong. Score: 3/5

7. Lonely (then 3:51, now = 3:48)

This is another good song that received tortured treatment on Urban Cave. This Your Backyard track has been trimmed a little by cutting a couple measures from the introduction. Score: 4/5

8. Thetimeisnow (then = 4:05, now = 3:47)

I’ve always preferred this live version from This Way Up over the original Your Backyard studio version and it seems other fans  do too. The edits on this track are pretty slick and I’d have to have a lot more patience than I do to find them. 😉 Score: 4/5

9. Fly Away (then = 4:50, now = 4:28)

This is a decent chill-out track from Your Backyard that got *really* fubared on Urban Cave. Not being a song amongst my personal favorites, I don’t care enough to figure out what got trimmed out. Score: 3/5

10. Romp and Circumstance (then = 6:37, now = 2:41)

The amount of editing on this This Way Up track is a bit deceptive. The original has a lengthy intro with another song (Granny and Rory Macleod, I think), that ends at 1:51. Still, an additional 2:05 were carved out. That’s just too much to take from such an awesome song. I prefer the Exit From Screechville studio version, but the original live version is still good enough to get 5/5. Score 4/5

11. Stand Beside Me (then = 5:15, now = 5:03)

Not much was trimmed from this solid Your Backyard tune. Score: 4/5

12. Funny (then = 3:33, now = 3:27)

I’ve grown less fond of this Urban Cave song with time and will likely pull it from Point of View. Score: 3/5

13. Rainmaker (then = 4:48, now = 4:24)

The Digging Bone is my second favorite Brother album, and Rainmaker is one of its best tracks. The only edit I could detect was the unfortunate eviscerating of the beautiful cello solo near the end. Score: 4/5

14. Purple Haze (same length)

This pastoral ballad from Your Backyard is decent, but it didn’t make my cut. Score: 3/5

15. Take You Back (then = 4:24, now = 0:47)

What the hell is with these teaser tracks that have been on the last three albums?!? These 47 seconds would have been better used by making some of the edits less severe or by including My Rhubarb. Perhaps I’ll replace Funny with the Black Stone Tramp version of this song. Score: 0/5

16. Amazing Grace (same length)

Amazing Grace is a beautiful song and the harmonies by brother Richardson are very good, but there isn’t much to make their rendition from Pipe Dreams stand out in a crowd. Score: 4/5

17. All I Know (then = 4:52, now = 4:14)

This is one of my favorite Black Stone Tramp tracks. The edits are acceptable, but not desireable. Score: 4/5

18. Blackest of Blue (then = 5:38, now = 4:30)

I prefer the This Way Up live version of this song from The Digging Bone. As you can see from the time reduction, the edits are pretty severe. Score: 3/5

19. Carry Me (then = 4:38, now = 3:57)

Given the repetitive, meditational nature of this Black Stone Tramp track, the editing done is appropriate. As I listen to this track again, though, I’m no longer sure why I put it on Point of View. Hmm… Score: 3/5

20. The Machine: 2006 (then = ?, now = 3:37)

I have no idea what this song sounded like in its original Black White form (Anybody want to hook me up with a mp3 or ogg file of it?), so I can’t judge the edit. I can, however, say that there’s little noteworthy or interesting about this track. It reminds of some of the half-baked trance remixes the band did a few years ago. The beat is promising and some of the samples are intriguing, but the overall execution is sloppy and boring. Score: 2/5

Album Score: 68/95 (71.6% C-)

I decided to not include the aborted track 15 in the final score. Don’t let this low score fool you. If you don’t own and can’t acquire copies of the older albums, As You Were is a decent representation of the good old days. For those of us who have most or all of them, though, the best use we could put these edited tracks to would be squeezing as many songs as possible into our personal mixes.

Final verdict: Buy (or mooch) the original albums if you can, but otherwise get As You Were and be confident that what you have will give you hours of listening pleasure. 🙂

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About Funky Dung

Who is Funky Dung? 29-year-old grad student in Intelligent Systems (A.I.) at the University of Pittsburgh. I consider myself to be politically moderate and independent and somewhere between a traditional and neo-traditional Catholic. I was raised Lutheran, spent a number of years as an agnostic, and joined the Catholic Church at the 2000 Easter Vigil. Why Funky Dung? I haven't been asked this question nearly as many times as you or I might expect. Funky Dung is a reference to an obscure Pink Floyd song. On the album Atom Heart Mother, there is a track called Atom Heart Mother Suite. It's broken up into movements, like a symphony, and one of the movements is called Funky Dung. I picked that nickname a long time ago (while I was still in high school I think), shortly after getting an internet connection for the first time. To me it means "cool/neat/groovy/spiffy stuff/crap/shiznit", as in "That's some cool stuff, dude!" Whence Ales Rarus? I used to enjoy making people guess what this means, but I've decided to relent and make it known to all. Ales Rarus is a Latin play on words. "Avis rarus" means "a rare bird" and carries similar meaning to "an odd fellow". "Ales" is another Latin word for bird that carries connotations of omens, signs of the times, and/or augery. If you want to get technical, both "avis" and "ales" are feminine (requiring "rara", but they can be made masculine in poetry (which tends to breaks lots of rules). I decided I'd rather have a masculine name in Latin. ;) Yeah, I'm a nerd. So what? :-P Wherefore blog? It is my intention to "teach in order to lead others to faith" by being always "on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers . . . or to the faithful" through the "use of the communications media". I also act knowing that I "have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors [my] opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and [I] have a right to make [my] opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward [my and their] pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons." (adapted from CCC 904-907) Statement of Faith I have been baptized and confirmed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I, therefore, renounce Satan; I renounce all his works; I renounce all his allurements. I hold and profess all that is contained in the Apostles' Creed, the Niceno- Constantinopolitan Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. Having been buried with Christ unto death and raised up with him unto a new life, I promise to live no longer for myself or for that world which is the enemy of God but for him who died for me and rose again, serving God, my heavenly Father, faithfully and unto death in the holy Catholic Church. I am obedient to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. That is, I promote and defend authentic Catholic Teaching and Faith in union with Christ and His Church and in union with the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of St. Peter. Thanks be unto Thee, O my God, for all Thy infinite goodness, and, especially, for the love Thou hast shown unto me at my Confirmation. I Give Thee thanks that Thou didst then send down Thy Holy Spirit unto my soul with all His gifts and graces. May He take full possession of me for ever. May His divine unction cause my face to shine. May His heavenly wisdom reign in my heart. May His understanding enlighten my darkness. May His counsel guide me. May His knowledge instruct me. May His piety make me fervent. May His divine fear keep me from all evil. Drive from my soul, O Lord, all that may defile it. Give me grace to be Thy faithful soldier, that having fought the good fight of faith, I may be brought to the crown of everlasting life, through the merits of Thy dearly beloved Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. Behind the Curtain: an Interview With Funky Dung (Thursday, March 03, 2005) I try to avoid most memes that make their way 'round the blogosphere (We really do need a better name, don't we?), but some are worth participating in. Take for instance the "interview game" that's the talk o' the 'sphere. I think it's a great way to get to know the people in neighborhood. Who are the people in your neighborhood? In your neighborhod? In your neigh-bor-hoo-ood...*smack* Sorry, Sesame Street flashback. Anyhow, I saw Jeff "Curt Jester" Miller's answers and figured since he's a regular reader of mine he'd be a good interviewer. Without further ado, here are my answers to his questions. 1. Being that your pseudonym Funky Dung was chosen from a Pink Floyd track on Atom Heart Mother, what is you favorite Pink Floyd song and why? Wow. That's a tuffy. It's hard to pick out a single favorite. Pink Floyd isn't really a band known for singles. They mostly did album rock and my appreciation of them is mostly of a gestalt nature. If I had to pick one, though, it'd be "Comfortably Numb". I get chills up my spine every time I hear it and if it's been long enough since the last time, I get midty-eyed. I really don't know why. That's a rather unsatisfying answer for an interview, so here are the lyrics to a Rush song. It's not their best piece of music, but the lyrics describe me pretty well.

New World Man He's a rebel and a runner He's a signal turning green He's a restless young romantic Wants to run the big machine He's got a problem with his poisons But you know he'll find a cure He's cleaning up his systems To keep his nature pure Learning to match the beat of the old world man Learning to catch the heat of the third world man He's got to make his own mistakes And learn to mend the mess he makes He's old enough to know what's right But young enough not to choose it He's noble enough to win the world But weak enough to lose it --- He's a new world man... He's a radio receiver Tuned to factories and farms He's a writer and arranger And a young boy bearing arms He's got a problem with his power With weapons on patrol He's got to walk a fine line And keep his self-control Trying to save the day for the old world man Trying to pave the way for the third world man He's not concerned with yesterday He knows constant change is here today He's noble enough to know what's right But weak enough not to choose it He's wise enough to win the world But fool enough to lose it --- He's a new world man...
2. What do you consider your most important turning point from agnosticism to the Catholic Church. At some point in '99, I started attending RCIA at the Pittsburgh Oratory. I mostly went to ask a lot of obnoxious Protestant questions. Or at least that's what I told myself. I think deep down I wanted desperately to have faith again. At that point I think I'd decided that if any variety of Christianity had the Truth, the Catholic Church did. Protestantism's wholesale rejection of 1500 years of tradition didn't sit well with me, even as a former Lutheran. During class one week, Sister Bernadette Young (who runs the program) passed out thin booklet called "Handbook for Today's Catholic". One paragraph in that book spoke to me and I nearly cried as I read it.
"A person who is seeking deeper insight into reality may sometimes have doubts, even about God himself. Such doubts do not necessarily indicate lack of faith. They may be just the opposite - a sign of growing faith. Faith is alive and dynamic. It seeks, through grace, to penetrate into the very mystery of God. If a particular doctrine of faith no longer 'makes sense' to a person, the person should go right on seeking. To know what a doctrine says is one thing. To gain insight into its meaning through the gift of understanding is something else. When in doubt, 'Seek and you will find.' The person who seeks y reading, discussing, thinking, or praying eventually sees the light. The person who talks to God even when God is 'not there' is alive with faith."
At the end of class I told Sr. Bernadette that I wanted to enter the Church at the next Easter vigil. 3. If you were a tree what kind of, oh sorry about that .. what is the PODest thing you have ever done? I set up WikiIndex, a clearinghouse for reviews of theological books, good, bad, and ugly. It has a long way to go, but it'll be cool when it's finished. :) 4. What is your favorite quote from Venerable John Henry Newman? "Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt." 5. If you could ban one hymn from existence, what would it be? That's a tough one. As a member of the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas, there are obviously a lot of songs that grate on my nerves. If I had to pick one, though, I'd probably pick "Sing of the Lord's Goodness" by Ernie Sands.

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