When an album you loved like a brother as a teenager comes out in a fancy deluxe edition years later, you’ve just got to, haven’t you? And Therapy? are releasing two of them in one go.
Troublegum, their second full-length album, remains their high water mark in terms of consistent quality. It added a focus and a sheen to the noisy, claustrophobic clatter of their early releases, and was jam-packed with classics.
So you don’t really need me to tell you the virtues of Knives, Screamager, Stop It You’re Killing Me, Turn, Trigger Inside, Isolation, Nowhere, etc, etc. It’s all brilliant and none of it sounds 20 years old (which it turned last month).
But what of the two bonus discs? Well, first there’s some background. Last year Therapy? released The Gemil Box, an expensive, but exhaustive collection of their albums and rarities, so you get the feeling that this release is more about the record company than the band.
That suspicion gets a bit stronger when you release there’s only four unreleased tracks on the two bonus discs, the rest are the b-sides from the related singles and EPs. So there’s several remixes, live tracks and demos, with just a handful of actual other songs.
Some are brilliant (especially the ones from ShortSharpShock EP), so it’s worth it for those if you don’t have them, but the remixes are generally disappointing mid-90s dance tracks that occasionally make reference to Therapy? songs.
Infernal Love came out a year later, but was a very different album. With David Holmes adding ‘insanity’ (ie, ambient atmosphere in between the tracks) it’s a darker and slower affair that takes a lot more listening to appreciate (though Loose, Stories and Husker Du cover Diane are all instant classics).
There’s just one bonus disc for this one, with no unreleased material and not much in the way of rare songs, just mostly acoustic versions, live tracks and the odd remix. The acoustic songs are generally pretty good, and certainly are of interest for anyone who’s been to see Andy Cairns doing his acoustic shows.
So, these deluxe editions of two great Therapy? albums have got plenty of treasures for the completist, but for anyone who bought the singles back in the day, they’re not essential.