Better-than-most compendium of basement tapes

The double-disc deluxe reissue was dreamed up to provide a home for outtakes and B-sides, thereby encouraging fans to shell out for the parent album a second time. Cole’s approach here is to ignore those original albums (from his 1990 eponymous fourth release onwards) and focus exclusively on the supposed filler.

His choice of title does the music a disservice, suggesting as it does that he’s pitching us little more than dregs. But there are swathes of great music tucked away on this 59-tracker, some inclusions as good as anything on his debut masterpiece Rattlesnakes. The Dylanesque Brand New Baby Blues ripples with wit and attitude, The Steady Slowing Down On The Heart is a glorious country jangle, while the cynical Sold, with its thoughts on fast fame, may even be partly autobiographical.

Cole’s many tribute album contributions resurface as well, giving him an opportunity to play Bolan, Cohen, Kristofferson and even Bacharach for a day, though they’re pretty hit-and-miss. The collection works best as a showcase for his own writing talent, his literacy and humour, and his unfussy way with a handful of chords and a killer chorus.
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Publication: Record Collector

Publication date: 23/02/09