hese are mostly four-tracked songs, with the occasional live bit, pieced together over a strange decade (the recordings were made in San Francisco, Gilroy, Budapest and Hollywood, roughly). At its best ("Worried," "Come With Me"), the home DIYs make the lo-fi efforts of your Becks and Guided By Voiceses seem amateurish, which is no mean trick given how inept Ken is at every instrument he's ever touched, outside the harmonica and his own throat.

I show up here and there, either as a probably uncredited co-writer ("Like a Train," "I Should Be That Guy"), guitar player ("Springtime in Budapest"), or somewhat-co-writing guitar-playing jackass who can't sing harmony right ("She Thinks She's Me"). Also, I'm airbrushed from the cover photo, the Stalinist.

My favorite song, if you can call it that, is probably "National Day of Mourning," which I'm listening to right now for roughly the thousandth time. The less that's said about this one, the better, other than that I've never once not gotten chills, and several times have been reduced to tears. Which is saying a lot, for a song that contains the line "paranoid retentive spaceman."

He is my great pal, but I would recommend this collection if it came from Trent Lott, or even Eric Alterman. There have been times when the last thing in the world I wanted to hear was Ken's angry voice on the telephone, or on an e-mail, but I'd plop in a cassette and happily sing along to the purty, wrecked tunes. Besides, if this digitize-and-clean-out-the-archives gambit works, I will be putting together my own 15-song CD of oldies-but-smellies, to pave the way for some new recordings planned for later this summer. Not that that's anything you want to encourage....

Posted by at July 8, 2003 11:19 PM
Comments

I still have a copy of "Slipped Disko (sp?)" among my tapes.

Posted by: chandler at July 9, 2003 03:26 PM

No shit, really? You're one of the 300.... And it's "Slip Disko," for reasons only Steve Coulter can explain.

Posted by: Matt Welch at July 9, 2003 03:42 PM
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