Jules and the Polar Bears

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This four-song EP was released following Jules & the Polar Bears' second album, Phonetics, "due to the prolific songwriting talents of Jules Shear." Of the four "roughs" collected here, the rocking "Sometimes Real Life" and poppy "Born Out of Heat" work best, whereas "Alive Alone" and the closer, "This Fabrication," (both of which were rescued from obscurity several years later by Ian Matthews) are excellent tunes that never really gel in this setting. "Alive Alone" in particular, with its pulsing synth arrangement and Shear's detached vocal, has a coldness that undermines the emotional impact of the song, not to mention its gorgeous melody. Still, it's hard to fault a record of outtakes whose songs are of this high a caliber. With a little fine-tuning, any of these would have fit nicely onto Phonetics or its follow-up, Bad for Business, which was recorded for a 1980 release, but ironically remained in the Columbia vaults for 16 years (according to the notes on the jacket of the EP, "these roughs were made available because a lot of people thought they were just too good to wind up in a studio vault").