Paradise: Complete 1989-1991

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Birdland flared briefly at the end of the 1980s, when fellow U.K. bands like the Primitives and the Darling Buds were putting a chiming pop spin on Jesus and Mary Chain feedback and Madchester psychedelia. They didn't have a female vocalist. But Birdland did sport peroxide blonde hair and uniform black clothing, and in their best moments wrote songs that aligned thorny punk attitude with jangling guitars in irresistible two-minute bursts. Castle's Paradise: Anthology is comprehensive, gathering the quartet's three EPs, lone album, and a handful of early singles. There's also a rare, occasionally raucous live set, originally released in 1989 by Lazy Records (on one-sided vinyl) to promote Birdland's tour. Paradise hits all the high points. "Sleep With Me," "All Over Me," and "Crystal" are blurs of effected vocals and spiny reverb guitar, "Paradise" looks to Echo & the Bunnymen, and later material like "Twin Sons" and "Everybody Needs Somebody"'s attempts at a more dynamic sound show real promise. Birdland never got there, fading as the title suggests by 1991. And they'll never be remembered as fabulous lyricists. But Paradise: Anthology's highlights are great snapshots of the era for U.K. guitar pop fans, and collectors will like its remedying of the Birdland back catalog's rather spotty availability.

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