Box of Bongwater

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This aptly titled Box of Bongwater consists of four CDs aimed at gathering a majority of the duo's recordings -- many of which had been out of print or at the very least difficult to find for several years. Included in this package are the contents of the Breaking No New Ground EP; the albums Double Bummer, Too Much Sleep, The Power of Pussy, and The Big Sell Out; as well as "Love Life," the duo's contribution the Rutles Highway Revisited tribute. Bongwater is personified in the somewhat unlikely team of Mark Kramer and Ann Magnuson. Although arguably diminutive in quantity, their catalog stands as one of the most diverse in popular music. For maximum effect the pair blends their own original sonic sculptures and compositions with a considerate and eclectic mix of cover tunes spanning the entirety of popular music. But rather than emulate their influences, Bongwater tends to wholly reinvent the structure to suit their multimedia pastiche of aural imagery. These remarkable reworkings include the Beatles' "Rain" and "Julia," the 13th Floor Elevators' "You Don't Love Me" and "Splash," the Monkees' "You Just May Be the One" and "The Porpoise Song," and most especially Led Zeppelin's "Four Sticks" and the brilliant "Dazed and Chinese." Magnuson's obsession with Jimmy Page is in fact a motif running throughout this set, as are her acerbic-tongued slams at some of the most sacred of pop culture cows on "Frank," "David Bowie Wants Ideas," and "What Kind of Man Reads Playboy." The dramatic qualities and inflections that Magnuson offers are ideally matched to Kramer's ability to provide a seemingly endless pallet of sonic platforms. His skills as a producer, multi-instrumentalist, and sonic satirist make him the quintessential musical foil. If any criticism can be leveled at Box of Bongwater, it would concern logistics such as having the contents of an album spread over more than one disc, disrupting the inherent continuity of the original release. Additionally, the 12-page booklet could and should be much more than it is, considering eight of those are full-page photos or graphics. Although it is tempting to call this collection a complete anthology of Bongwater's recordings, it is a few tracks shy of that, presumably because they were not originally issued on the Kramer-owned and operated Shimmy Disc label. The Peel Sessions EP as well as a couple of tracks which surfaced on tribute albums for Neil Young and the 13th Floor Elevators, respectively, are not included in this set. However, in light of what is on the box, these caveats are practically negligible.

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 4:22 Amazon
2 2:19 Amazon
3 4:06 Amazon
4 2:33 Amazon
5 3:16 Amazon
6 3:29 Amazon
7 3:58 Amazon
8 1:58 Amazon
9 5:04 Amazon
10 4:23 Amazon
11 4:00 Amazon
12 4:36 Amazon
13 2:01 Amazon
14 3:58 Amazon
15 1:40 Amazon
16 2:19 Amazon
17 4:20 Amazon
18 2:53 Amazon
19 3:19 Amazon
20 2:37 Amazon
21 2:23 Amazon
22 1:39 Amazon
23 0:49 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick