Ocean Colour Scene

B-Sides: Seasides & Freerides

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Rounding up all the B-sides, demos and rarities Ocean Colour Scene released over the course of 1996, when the band was riding the crest of their popularity, B-Sides: Seasides & Freerides, for all its inconsistency, illustrates the depth of their ambition, as well as their flaws. Primarily comprised of acoustic material, including a demo of "The Circle" and a fine, stripped-down version of "The Day We Caught the Train," the 16 tracks on B-Sides can tend to sound a little samey, but when the group branches out to the neo-prog-rock of the very English "Huckleberry Grove" or to the funky instrumental "Chicken Bones and Stones," they sound better than ever, and a couple of early songs by the pre-Ocean Colour Scene band the Fanatics are interesting. Still, about half of the songs suggest that OCS may be a little too reverent in their appreciation for late-'60s rock, since they come across as only stylistic exercise, not full songs. And their live cover of "Day Tripper," featuring Noel Gallagher on guitar and Liam Gallagher on vocals, is an embarassment, simply because Liam's restrained vocals slay Simon Fowler's bellowing. But this is an isolated moment on B-Sides: Seasides & Freerides, since it contains enough first-rate material to make it necessary for dedicated fans.

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