Music to Climb the Apple Tree By was originally released as one of the seven CDs in the 2002 Beat Happening box set Crashing Through, but was not made available for sale separately until the following year. Gathering material from 1984-2000, it has odds and ends from singles and compilations, including the 45 versions of "Nancy Sin" and "Look Around," as well as four tracks from the EP the band did with the Screaming Trees. It's a good service for fans who might already have all of the five Beat Happening albums (which were also in Crashing Through) but don't want to get the box set just for the disc with rarer stuff, although it would have been an even better service had it been issued simultaneously with the set. And because the tone of Beat Happening's music was fairly consistent throughout their career, this actually isn't a half-bad sampler of their overall pop-primitivist sound, albeit reflecting the more ephemeral corners of their discography. Certainly the original 45 release of "Nancy Sin" has to count as one of their finer moments, with a down 'n' dirty surf-punk backup that rocks out as hard as the band ever did, while "Secret Picnic Spot" adds a welcome spot of shambling exotica and "Knock on Any Door" makes Calvin Johnson's debt to vintage Lee Hazlewood explicit.
AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger