Hard Attack & Big Hits

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The CD compilation of MX-80's earliest work pulls together both the debut EP and its full-length follow-up for an entertaining hourlong blast of one of the most out of step but prescient bands of its time. Given how many groups in the '90s seemed to have (intentionally or not) played out with similar combinations of left-field humor, stop-start rhythm mania, and quirky rock power, a tip of the hat was long overdue. One rarity surfaces as a bonus -- "Sad Girls," originally recorded for but left off the Hard Attack album. Beginning with a typical MX-80 time-shift riff and stomp (including a brief drum solo), it shifts into a slower and appropriately semi-melancholic mood by the time Stim starts singing about the titular people in question. Anderson's guitar work here is especially striking, able to capture the changing feel of the song just so. The artwork captures the original album covers -- including the groan-worthy but admittedly bemusing snap for Big Hits itself -- as well as a slew of archival photos, which captures the band's weird goofball/sf/college guys art sense pretty well. One technical note, though: At least one pressing of the CD did a slightly curious move by mastering the Big Hits tracks as two long cuts -- nothing is left off, but it results in a different track numbering (and ordering, for that matter) than what can be found in the liner notes. Possibly it's a deliberate move, possibly not, but at least all the songs themselves can be found on the disc, regardless.

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