Thursday, December 08, 2005
on the stereo
While Split Enz came first and hit bigger worldwide, one could argue that there would be no New Zealand rock scene as it is known today if it weren't for the Clean; the sainted Flying Nun label was formed to put out their debut single, their willingness to go the D.I.Y. route in recording their early material set the standard for any number of bands (Kiwi and otherwise), and their playful yet aggressive mixture of pop hooks, jagged guitar lines, neo-Velvets minimalism, and edgy wit paved the way for the Bats, the Chills, the Verlaines, the Jean-Paul Sartre Experience, and a handful of other bands who helped New Zealand develop its own musical identity for the first time. Despite their importance and longevity, the Clean have never been especially well-served on record in the United States; their important early singles and EPs received little circulation in America, and their post-reunion albums have been only sporadically available, thanks to the collapse of several indie labels. Anthology isn't the perfect remedy to this situation, but it comes close; it's a superb overview of the Clean's career, with the classic Boodle Boodle Boodle and Great Sounds EPs included in their entirety on disc one (along with several crucial singles and outtakes), while disc two skims off the cream of the later albums Vehicle, Modern Rock, and Unknown Country (four outtakes from the Modern Rock sessions are thrown in for good measure). A thoroughly enjoyable introduction to an important and influential band, Anthology will also fill in plenty of gaps in the collections of American fans; anyone with more than a passing interest in the Clean will find plenty to revel in here.