The Embarrassment

Heyday 1979-1983

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Though the band's reunion album God Help Us had happily been available on CD since release, nearly everything from its early-'80s years had long gone out of print or was hard to find, a situation the double-disc Heyday rectified in full a few years later. Right from the start Heyday shows its worth thanks to the inclusion of the quartet's wonderful, rocking debut, the "Sex Drive/Patio Set" single. "Sex Drive" itself almost comes across as a Midwest response to similarly minded landmarks of punk and post-punk like the Buzzcocks' "Orgasm Addict" and the Gun Club's "Sex Beat." The production is thin, perhaps, but the delivery is nervous, wired to the max, jerky riffs, and Giessmann's quick drumming increasing the weird paranoia even as Nichols' singing exudes amusing, boring cool. "Patio Set," meanwhile, sounds only a touch more relaxed, a weird metaphor combining love and outdoor furniture dryly delivered over the exuberant crunch. The remainder of the first disc pulls together the contents of The Embarrassment and Death Travels West albums, plus "Two Cars," which surfaced previously on the odds and ends Retrospective cassette. The second disc, meanwhile, gets stuffed full of treats from Retrospective, various compilations, and otherwise unreleased sessions, split between studio and live recordings both. The live recordings are a particular revelation, confirming what the studio work always suggested -- that the four members were barnburners, ripping with precise energy through their work. Two covers pop up, both of which are pretty funny as well as rather well performed: Michael Jackson's disco hit "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" and Led Zeppelin's proto-metal stomp "Immigrant Song." It's a pity the version of the Seeds' "Pushin' Too Hard," originally on a Bomp! compilation, didn't make it, but that's about the only thing missing here. A complete discography, a reprinted essay from 1988 about the group, and fun liner notes from Nichols and Goffrier complete this fantastic, long-overdue compilation.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 05:00 Amazon
2 03:07 Amazon
3 03:08 Amazon
4 02:30 Amazon
5 02:08 Amazon
6 04:06 Amazon
7 02:36 Amazon
8 02:01 Amazon
9 03:04 Amazon
10 02:36 Amazon
11 02:57 Amazon
12 03:38 Amazon
13 02:34 Amazon
14 02:43 Amazon
15 02:05 Amazon
16 04:50 Amazon
17 02:28 Amazon
18 02:35 Amazon
19 03:38 Amazon
20 02:52 Amazon
21 02:10 Amazon
22 03:26 Amazon
23 01:27 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 02:46 Amazon
2 03:34 Amazon
3 03:42 Amazon
4 03:40 Amazon
5 03:44 Amazon
6 02:33 Amazon
7 02:14 Amazon
8 02:58 Amazon
9 02:15 Amazon
10 02:50 Amazon
11 03:19 Amazon
12 02:55 Amazon
13 02:50 Amazon
14 03:03 Amazon
15 03:04 Amazon
16 05:43 Amazon
17 02:24 Amazon
18 01:53 Amazon
19 02:14 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick