Throwing Muses

In a Doghouse

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Throwing Muses' classic first album was never released in the U.S., nor was their follow-up EP, Chains Changed. For well over a decade, the two records were only available as imports through 4AD, which meant that Throwing Muses, one of the most influential and individual albums of late-'80s alternative rock, was very hard for anyone outside of devoted record collectors to track down. Rykodisc fortunately remedied that situation in 1998 with the release of In a Doghouse, a double-disc set that provides a comprehensive overview of the Muses' early years. The first disc is devoted to Throwing Muses and Chains Changed, while the second disc contains the group's self-released demo tape The Doghouse Cassette and five recordings of Kristin Hersh's earliest songs that the final incarnation of the Muses cut in 1996. Usually, such material would be the province of hardcore collectors only, but the Muses were such an original, unpredictable band in their early days that even the early demos are fascinating. The re-recordings don't quite match the other recordings here, but it's fortunate that Hersh had the foresight to document these songs before they were forgotten. In this context, they are a nice bonus, but the quality of the remaining music -- especially the idiosyncratic debut, which remains a fresh, unexpected listen -- is why In a Doghouse is an essential compilation.

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