EELS CELEBRATE FIRST DECADE WITH BEST OF AND RARITIES COLLECTIONS
FIRST RETROSPECTIVE, MEET THE EELS: ESSENTIAL EELS VOL. 1 (CD+DVD), AND FIRST RARITIES COLLECTION, EELS USELESS TRINKETS (2CD+DVD), SPAN 1996-2006 FOR THE ACCLAIMED ALT-ROCK ENTITY
USA January 15, 2008
UK January 21, 2008
The EELS are one of music's most acclaimed and idiosyncratic enterprises, accomplishing what The New Yorker calls "that rarest thing in contemporary pop: a unique sound." The ever-changing lineup of musicians that play the songs of singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Mark Oliver Everett (aka E), unveils both its first best of compilation, Meet The EELS: Essential EELS Vol. 1 (CD+DVD), and its first collection of rarities, B-sides, film contributions and unreleased tracks, the EELS Useless Trinkets: B-Sides, Soundtracks, Rarities and Unreleased 1996-2006 (2CD+DVD), each issued by DreamWorks/Geffen/UMe on January 15, 2008. All videos are available for the first time on DVD and all music is digitally remastered with both packages packed with never before seen photos, artifacts and Everett's notes about each track.
Meet The EELS: Essential EELS Vol. 1 spans the first decade of the EELS with 24 selections on CD and 12 promotional videos on DVD. The CD opens with four tracks from the band's 1996 debut Beautiful Freak, two tracks from the Eels' highly acclaimed second album 1998's Electro-shock Blues follow plus a previously unreleased Jon Brion remix of "Climbing to The Moon."
Four songs from 2000's Daisies Of The Galaxy, which NME dubbed "a masterpiece in almost every way," are represented on the Essentials album plus three tracks from 2001's Souljacker, which Time Magazine crowned as one of the best albums of the year, was acclaimed overseas with NME calling it "downright brilliant" and the London Sunday Times named it Album Of The Year, writing that "the conventional wisdom that (the earlier album} Electro-shock Blues was E's masterpiece will have to be reassessed: it was clearly just one of his masterpieces."
2003's live-in-the-studio Shootenanny! (awarded four stars by Rolling Stone) adds two fan favorites, while five songs from the highly acclaimed, and best charting album in the band's history Blinking Lights and Other Revelations are included. Also on the Essentials album are the previously unreleased "Get Ur Freak On", a live version of "Dirty Girl" from 2006's With Strings: Live At Town Hall and "I Need Some Sleep" from the Shrek 2 soundtrack.
Highlights within the 50 CD tracks of EELS Useless Trinkets are longtime concert favorite "Living Life" from the Daniel Johnston tribute album, the previously unreleased 2006 cover of Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "I Put A Spell On You" and other covers including James Carr's "Dark End of The Street" and Prince's "If I Was Your Girlfriend. " Useless Trinkets also includes a large handful of BBC performances, unique live versions of "Novocaine For The Soul" and "My Beloved Monster," tracks from films-- The End Of Violence, Holes, Levity and How The Grinch Stole Christmas and several previously unreleased tracks including the original collections title track which frontman Everett performs backed by a 28 piece orchestra. The DVD features six performances from the EELS' Lollapalooza 2006 performance, including a gospel rave-up take on "My Beloved Monster" and a high octane rumble through "Souljacker part I".
Meet The EELS: Essential EELS Vol. 1 and EELS Useless Trinkets prove why, following that 2006 Lollapalooza performance, Rolling Stone wrote: "EELS define coolness. "
MEETING THE EELS
by Mark Edwards, The Sunday Times
Opposites attract. And I think it's the opposites in Mark Oliver Everett's songs that
attracted me. I think it's the opposites that make his work so special.
They're not merely opposites. Some of them are heart-wrenchingly
irreconcilable conflicts - the "damned if you do, damned if you don't" decisions that bedevil our lives, those moments when you suddenly realize
that you want X but you need Y, and you can't have both, and you beat
yourself up so much over the choice that you end up with neither.
But perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself. Perhaps you've only recently
discovered the Eels and you've decided to find out more, and so here you are
with an album called Meet The Eels which will allow you to do just that. And
I'm going on about the opposites and conflicts and paradoxes at the heart of
the man's work as if you're already au fait with his oeuvre. And you're
thinking "uh-oh, I just wanted some nice songs."
Don't let me put you off. All I'm saying is that there's a tension in Everett's
songs that gives them a strength and a resonance that most other songwriters
couldn't ever equal. Sometimes the tension exists in the title. Your Lucky
Day in Hell. Just how lucky can that be? I suppose it sounds better than an
unlucky day in Hell. Although I'm not sure that we should rush out and get
T-shirts made, saying "Better a good day in Hell than a bad day in Heaven."
Sometimes the tension is between the lyric and Everett's delivery. "Goddam right,
it's a beautiful day," he sings on Mr. E's Beautiful Blues. But he sure
doesn't sound like he believes it. Although he does sound as though he's
decided that if he says it often enough, he might start to believe it. Mr.
E's Beautiful Blues was the big hit single off Daisies of the Galaxy, and
yet it only appeared bolted on the end of the album as a "hidden" track.
(Sometimes the tension is between the art and the marketplace.)
Sometimes the tension is between the lyrics and the music. Go and put on
track 11 without looking to see what it's called. Gee, that piano is pretty
isn't it? What kind of sweet, tender lyric would go well with that
loveliness. Oh, well, he's ruined it, hasn't he with his foul language?
Imagine what a smooth love lyric Paul McCartney might have put in there. Or
Except that he hasn't ruined anything. (Goddam right) It's a beautiful song,
and it's even more beautiful because he made it a little ugly too.
The French have an expression for it: "Jolie-laid." Leaving the Angelina
jokes aside, it means "pretty-ugly." Not "pretty ugly" as in "she's pretty
ugly," but "pretty-ugly" as in pretty and ugly at the same time. They reckon
that people who veer slightly away from the perfect symmetrical norms are
actually more attractive than those people who are, er, more attractive. If
you follow. The pretty isn't really pretty until you add a bit of the ugly.
Which brings us neatly to Mr. E's world view. Because sometimes the tension is
between received wisdom and Mr. E's world view. As in Hey Man (Now You're
Really Living). And I quote:
"Do you know what it's like to fall on the floor
And cry your guts out 'til you got no more
Hey man, now you're really living."
Most people think it's a funny song, but we're not most people. We're
cleverer than that. We understand that what E's doing here is taking the
whole "jolie-laid" idea and applying it to life as a whole. Life can't be
beautiful unless there's a bit of ugliness in there, too. Or, as your Jungian
therapist might say (if you had one) "you have to embrace the shadow." "Now
you're really living" doesn't just mean you're having a great time, it means
that you're REALLY living, and REALLY living involves sometimes having a
really bad time (but that way, when you do finally have a really great time,
you should appreciate it).
It's a hard philosophy, but E never lied to us. Right back in the first song
on this compilation he told us "life is hard, and so am I."
Those with a working knowledge of rock musician's biographies will know two
facts about Mark Oliver Everett:
First, that his father was a famous physicist who authored the Many Worlds
theory, which tries to make sense of some of Quantum Physics' loose ends by
suggesting that every possible outcome of every event exists. Those of us
who are not quite as clever as Dr. Hugh Everett extrapolate from this the
idea of an infinite number of universes each marginally different than the
next one. So in one of these alternate worlds there is a band called Eels
and an album called Meet The Eels and you bought it, but you never read
these sleeve notes (and what a strange and unimaginable world that must be).
The irony here is that so many of the issues that E tangles with in his
songs and in his life might be easily resolvable were he to have emerged in
a slightly different world. One where there are no loveless, and where your
soul doesn't need any novocaine. One where we humans were more like birds.
The other fact we know about E is that he lost all his family members in
fairly quick succession, and that instead of shutting down and giving up, he
addressed his feelings in songs -- most obviously on the Electro-shock Blues album. Not in a couple of lines at the end of a verse somewhere, but
relentlessly and in an incredibly moving way.
This is one of the things that makes E special. Not that he suffered loss.
(That's part of really living.) But that he confronted it head on and made
something so extraordinary out of it. There are only a handful of
songwriters who have done this. John Lennon on Plastic Ono Band. Kurt Cobain
on In Utero. E.
That's the company he keeps.
I haven't mentioned my favorite Eels song yet. It's called I'm Going To
Stop Pretending That I Didn't Break Your Heart. I'm not going to analyze it,
because it's already perfect, and any insight I have into it won't make it
any better. Anyway, you're already won over by the title -- the amazing title -- or, if
you're not, then your life is probably a lot more straightforward than E's,
and it may well be that you just bought the wrong record. But don't get too
upset about it. Sometimes, as E says, you just gotta let it go.
Read a selection of EELS 2008 press HERE.