Various Artists

A Taste of FNX

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Back in the '60s and early '70s radio station WBCN in Boston would bring in Marc Bolan of T. Rex and air him live, actually said to be Bolan's first performance on American shores ever. DJs Tommy Hadges and Buffalo had legendary "rare tape nights" where the 50,000 watt station would play material you now find as bonus tracks on boxed sets. The live tape of Led Zeppelin from The Boston Tea Party got lots of spins on "the rock of Boston" and became legend, as did Jonathan Richman's classic "Roadrunner." Well, now that WBCN in Boston is a mainstream station the relevance goes to the smaller but more influential "FNX radio network" owned by the weekly Boston Phoenix newspaper. FNX has come up with a real winner with these dozen tracks of mostly rare live performances by alternative artists making waves in 2007. As with any compilation album, there are going to be hits and misses, and the good news is that there are more tracks worth treasuring here than not. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs "Gold Lion" is a nice way to start things off, subtle and easing the listener into the CD, one of six tracks taped at First Act Guitar Studios. "Tear You Apart" by She Wants Revenge sounds like a cross between the Talking Heads and Devo, and the live acoustic from the FNX radio studios is sonically most impressive. Even with the "f" word censored, the take is engaging and gets some nice in-studio applause. The acoustic version of "Hate" by Plain White T's also has something to offer, good playing and some definite malice in the performance. "Rusted Wheel" is found on the Carnavas album by Silversun Pickups, and this rendition is straight from the radio studios. It is superb. The group Clap Your Hands Say Yeah perform a wonderful "Underwater (You and Me)" -- dissonant with quasi Phil Spector sounds, it is on their second album, Some Loud Thunder, and one of two titles not from the "live" archives, the other being Tim Armstrong's "Into Action." It clearly sounds like it was lifted off of his solo disc A Poet's Life, and like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, there is no notation otherwise. Say Anything's "Alive with the Glory of Love" and Bloc Party's "I Still Remember" aren't really worth remembering as much as the other tracks, both recorded live at First Act Guitar Studios, but with so much strong material here, why quibble? The live version of "Hospital Beds" from Cold War Kids could be a sequel to Jonathan Richman's "Hospital," it sure feels like that song inspired this one. Placebo offers "Meds" to close out the disc, and maybe offer some help to the aforementioned Cold War Kids. As this disc is a giveaway there isn't much in the way of liner notes, dates of these recordings, or even a website, but for collectors who dig rarities it is definitely worth seeking out.

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