Fun Lovin' Criminals

A's, B's and Rarities

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A's, B's and Rarities didn't even get a U.S. release date, but the Brits eat up the Fun Lovin' Criminals' late-night shtick like a particularly tasty kabob, so they'll undoubtedly wash this three-disc survey down with numerous cans of lager. The comp's ambitions are bigger than it really is -- it didn't need to be three discs, it repeats itself a little too much, and there's no liner content to speak of beyond recording information and graphics of FLC artwork. Still, longtime readers of the group's R-rated New York City love letters know the Criminals were always bigger than life inside their brains. And they'll love what is here, from the singles to the rarities to the previously unreleased. Yes, the Criminals' weakness has always been follow-through; blowing their loot on sheen and finely cut suits, doing primo drugs and fronting through tinted windows, Huey and Steve rarely have enough duckets or energy to fill an entire album. That makes the first disc of A's perfect, because it's all about the singles, the high points, those nights you never forget. The "Fun Lovin' Criminal" theme song, the hard flash groove of the mob fantasy "King of New York," "Korean Bodega"'s Strangeloves rewrite, the Latin-inflected fine china glide of "Loco" -- these are songs dedicated to their element, and tapped into New York City's third-rail pulse. Naturally, "Scooby Snacks" is here, too. There are two versions with the infamous Pulp Fiction samples, but better is the "20mg" version. Previously only available as an international B-side, it imagines the Criminals' crime spree in cannabis slow motion, punctuated with guitar peels that echo like the squeals of the wheelman's tires. Other heretofore unavailable goodies include an instrumental of "Loco" and an early rock mix of "Fun Lovin' Criminal." "I rob banks, I pull pranks, sometimes I eat/Franks and knishes, best wishes, I'm vicious" -- the band's inside swingin' while boring stuff like seriousness and innovation are stuck in line outside.

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