It can sometimes be interesting to see what creative decisions and concessions get made after an album has been out for a while and a reissue option comes along. Take the vinyl reissue of the Eels‘ album Daisies of The Galaxy, for example; as was explained by Mark Everett himself in his memoir Things The Grandchildren Should Know, Daisies Of The Galaxy was originally supposed to be a fourteen song album but, after it was complete, the singer was still riding some creative endorphins and produced one more track with Dust Brother Mike Simpson called “Mr. E.’s Beautiful Blues.” Eels record label wanted to add the track to DOTG but, because he was unsure where the song could possibly fit into the album’s runtime and not disrupt the rhythm and running of the music, the singer declined. To make a long story short, the label persisted and E conceded, and so it was that “Beautiful Blues” was tacked on as a “Bonus Track” at the end of the album upon its release in 2000, and so it has remained ever since.
Well, so it has remained until now. The first thing fans may notice about the 2015 vinyl reissue of Daisies Of The Galaxy is that “Beautiful Blues” is not listed on the back cover, and that will instantly get the gears in fans’ minds turning. “Did E have the song taken off the album,” they’ll wonder as they stare at the reissued LP in their local record store, “or was it simply a matter of there not being enough space on the vinyl to include it?”
As it turns out, no – “Mr. E’s Beautiful Blues” is indeed on the 2015 vinyl reissue of Daisies Of The Galaxy, it simply goes unlisted on the back cover now. It might sound silly, but this small change could be seen as a great victory for Everett. After all, the singer didn’t want the song on the album in the first place, but now it is a genuine secret song – until one opens the album and sees that it’s there.
Regardless of any and all possible debates which may ensue about the presence of “Beautiful Blues” (come on – it was a hit, it should be here), no one can deny that the remastering job done for this vinyl reissue makes this release sonically superior to the 2000-minted CD release. The difference is apparent as soon as “Grace Kelly Blues” gingerly opens the record; there is a closeness, warmth and intimacy that the horns and acoustic guitar as well as the drums supplied by Jonathan “Butch” Norton all have about them, and it’s instantly attractive. The difference is modest at most but will immediately pull longtime fans in, and they’ll be hooked as they begin closer for other differences which might be present.
…And, while subtle, some of the differences which ARE here can feel pretty exciting for those of the right mind. On “The Sound Of Fear,” for example, the slight low end distortion which colors the keyboard part adds a touch of menace to the proceeding while the ever-so-slight hiss in the sample which runs through “I Like Birds” which survived the mastering/remastering jobs applied feels like the perfect flaw in a facade intended to keep listeners from seeing/hearing all. True, these things are small (some critics would even go so far as to call them minutiae), but these little things can prove to be enlightening for fans; they may find a new sense of understanding or have an epiphany about the true nature of the Eels’ catalogue in general or ‘that one song’ in specific thanks to one of those little things they hadn’t really noticed before, but discovered here.
‘The little things about the little songs’ are one thing, but then there are the hits which come through renewed on this reissue as well. On “Flyswatter,” for example, the natural warmth of the vinyl medium as well as the slightly lowered high end done for this reissue takes the plastic shine off the reoccurring keyboard riff, organ and sighing background vocals to make the song perfectly dim and disquieting, while it’s now easier to hear the backup strings on “It’s A Motherfucker,” which is all the song needs to make listeners knees weak. Finally, when it comes to the big hit in the end, “Mr. E’s Beautiful Blues” still employs the Dust Brothers magic (which also helped Beck make the best album of his career, Odelay) and a bit of pastiche production to remain the hit it has been for over a decade. That said, it’s also worth pointing out that “Beautiful Blues” is the one track on this reissue wherein it’s impossible to find any particular differences in the sound or presentation; even the minutiae is the same, which could only mean that it was pretty much perfect in the first place.
Taking all of the above into account, of course this vinyl reissue of Daisies Of The Galaxy is excelent; the sound is flawless, the presentation of it is wonderfully satisfying and it even makes up for past frustration by making “Beautiful Blues” a hidden track (sort of). It is the best possible presentation of Daisies Of The Galaxy in every way.
(Geffen/Universal Music Enterprises)
Ground Control Magazine – Eels discography review (Part One)
Ground Control Magazine – Eels discography review (Part Two)
Ground Control Magazine – Mr. E’s Lucky Day In Hell – [Feature Article]