Originally released as early as 1990 as a cassette sold at their live performances, this document shows Over the Rhine at their earliest, most embryonic stages -- in the days when they described themselves as being "post-nuclear pseudo-alternative art-tinged folk-pop." This was recorded before singer Karin Bergquist was very comfortable being in front of an audience. The major battle with this group in its earliest incarnation -- specifically, "How should Ric Hordinski play his guitar?" is beginning to brew even at these earlier stages, with his playing at its widest extremes found on any recording. Softer, prettier numbers such as "Gentle Wounds" or "Paul and Virginia" (akin to Patience) are so seldom juxtaposed with their more dangerous pieces like "Fly Dance" or "Iron Curtain" (more typical of Eve). The beauty of this record is its naïveté -- the band has not yet figured out 100 percent what they want to do here. Later releases are stronger and more confident, but what they gain in confidence and surefootedness they lose in freshness and unpredictability. Probably the group's biggest concert fave, "Like a Radio," saw the light of day here. Other more atypical songs such as "Someday" or "And Can It Be" cast an interesting light on the original intentions for the group's direction. They are also their dreamiest here, as evidenced on the entire record, but specifically, "If I'm Drowning" and "The Genius of Water." The newest edition of this record includes a live version of "Fly Dance" in lieu of the original, as well as a bonus track, "Downfall," previously unreleased. The title comes from a C.S. Lewis novel of the same name.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Allender
feat: Ric Hordinski