Clog Dance: The Very Best of Violinski

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It's pretty strange for a best-of to be compiled for a band that had just two albums and one hit record, and it's stranger still for no less than 11 of the 20 cuts on that best-of to be unreleased tracks. It seems more like an excuse to get hardcore collectors to fork over for the unreleased stuff than a proper presentation of Violinski's best recordings. And those hardcore collectors should be aware that every single one of those 11 unreleased tracks is an alternate version, not a song previously unavailable by Violinski in any form. Adding insult to injury, many of these rarities are designated as an "instrumental rough mix," "early version," "alternate early take," or "alternate early mix" -- hardly items to make one salivate in anticipation, let alone qualify for a best-of anthology. So it isn't the best compilation worthy of the subtitle "The Very Best of Violinski," though it does include their sole hit, the British 1979 Top 20 single "Clog Dance," as well as some other A-sides, B-sides, and official LP tracks. Carping about the package (which does have good liner notes) dispensed with, how's the music? Well, about what you'd expect a side project of Electric Light Orchestra's violin player Mik Kaminski to sound like. That is, it's kind of like listening to ELO with more prominent violin and slighter material (little of it, actually, written by Kaminski); perhaps a bit of Steely Dan and late-period Beach Boys can be heard as well. There's a similar blend of upbeat pop/rock and progressive rock, and sometimes a folkier air, particularly on "Clog Dance." It's not catchy or witty enough to make much of a mark, however, though it's obviously trying to be sly and humorously clever for much of the time.

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