Various Artists

Revenge of the Killer B's, Vol. 2

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The follow-up to the earlier Warner Bros. compilation Attack of the Killer B's, this continues the label's fine tradition -- started in the '60s and '70s -- of releasing assorted music from the vaults within the grooves of a budget anthology disc. Originally issued under theWarner/Reprise Loss Leaders imprint, the featured musical collections included the likes of Songbook, Record Show, The Big Ball, Schlagers, The Whole Burbank Catalog, and the classic The Days of Wine and Vinyl. These were available for two dollars for each mail order, which basically covered the shipping and handling. In 1980 they upped the price to three dollars for the double LP Troublemakers, which contained previously unreleased John Cale and Modern Lovers tracks to sweeten the pot. While these collections came directly from the label, Warner Bros. still issued legitimate compilations with rarities, like the only stereo version of Fleetwood Mac's "Green Manalishi" on a single-disc commercial "loss leader" available in stores. Revenge of the Killer B's was created to attract the collector -- it's splashed right on the cover. But this album is more than just a collection of "black sheep of the family" items -- Revenge sounds great from start to finish, and has plenty of goodies to validate its claims of future value. There's the flip side to Fleetwood Mac's great "Gypsy" single, "Cool Water," to lead off the set, a previously unreleased outtake from Madonna's first album, "Ain't No Big Deal," a version of Barrett Strong's "Money" by the Pretenders, which was recorded live at the U.S. Festival and heralded their new lineup, and a version of "Your Finest Hour" by Tom Verlaine, which the liner notes say "has been aging in our song cellar" since his Words From the Front album, as well as gems by Aztec Camera, Depeche Mode, the B-52's, Marshall Crenshaw, and others. A dozen in all, and very entertaining. Just goes to prove some groups' leftovers sound better than full projects by latter-day versions of Rare Earth or first efforts from John Cougar Mellencamp. Mellencamp performing the Doors' "Twentieth Century Fox" on his first MCA album can't come close to anything on this disc.

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