Love and Rockets

Sorted!: The Best of Love and Rockets [Video]

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In 1989, Love and Rockets released The Haunted Fishtank, a collection of their videos up through "So Alive" plus a slew of amusing interstitial moments from their alter egos the Bubblemen, whose own video "The Bubblemen Are Coming" also made an appearance. Rather than simply releasing it as it stood for DVD, Beggars Banquet eventually created Sorted!, meant to be the video equivalent for the similarly titled greatest-hits album. In doing so they took the chance to collect a variety of odds and ends from throughout the band's career as well as solo efforts and side projects, making the Sorted! DVD a necessary collection for fans beyond its film content.

The Haunted Fishtank makes up the first section of the DVD, ported over from the original videotape without any change. Even more so with the passing of time, the band's gift, as well as those of their various video directors -- most famously Howard Greenhalgh, whose much-screened clip for "So Alive" was one of his earliest successes -- at creating memorable videos in stripped-down studio setups was well evident. While "So Alive" and the striking "No New Tale to Tell" videos had the highest recognition at the time, credit should also be given to "Yin and Yang the Flowerpot Man" -- where the Bubblemen made the first of many cameos -- and especially "The Light," with the intense psych drama of the song matched by simple but striking special effects and cinematography. Admittedly not everything succeeds, most notably "Motorcycle," which mostly consists of loving close-ups of just such an object, but there's still material of interest here that's not limited to those who are already fans. The Bubblemen snippets remain as goonily inspired as ever, each serving as a specific introduction to a video -- the one for their own effort features their legendary motto, "Don't rock, wobble!"

The remaining section of the DVD is called, simply enough, "More!," and has just that, starting with the remaining four Love and Rockets videos that appeared after Haunted Fishtank. "No Big Deal" continues in the vein of the earlier videos, but "Sweet Love Hangover" is slightly weird in that it's a self-conscious re-creation of that style (very obviously referencing "No New Tale to Tell" in particular) using bigger budgets and, distractingly, anonymous female models -- a bit of a comedown for the band after having always avoided that cliché before, though the legs in "So Alive" are pushing it. "Holy Fool" and "RIP 20 C" find the band and directors aiming for a visual equivalent to their techno side and not really succeeding, though seeing David J. as a newscaster in the latter is pretty funny stuff. A 1989 interview, apparently part of an electronic press kit, is also provided, and though Daniel Ash and David J acquit themselves well enough, there's nothing of particular interest or insight, though David J's confession that it's often bad music that inspires him to write songs as a reaction is a nice moment. Meanwhile, there's an audio-only bonus, apparently from the late '80s -- "David Lanfair," named after a college student who decided he wanted to interview Love and Rockets for a project and sent a tape with questions to ask directly to the band, acknowledging he didn't know much about the group and as a result asking questions they'd probably heard eight million times before. With the tape running, the group created a gentle acoustic/electric guitar-led backing track that could be an outtake from Earth, Sun, Moon or Sweet F.A. -- if it's a negative commentary, it's a cryptic one, and if it's a celebration of fan enthusiasm, then why not?

But there's still even further extras, starting with four videos from Ash's first two solo albums. None are deathless but it can be interesting to see him experiment with the hairstyles a bit, while Natacha Atlas makes one of her first high profile appearances showing her belly-dancing skills in the video for "Walk This Way," which she both co-wrote and sang on. One David J video appears, for the lovely "I'll Be Your Chauffeur" from Songs from Another Season; in contrast to Ash's generally more workmanlike efforts, this is a gently arty breeze, with two sidemen in angel's wings and covered in lights respectively, playing along on top of tall stools in the countryside and on a stone bench. To top it all off, the remaining songs from the sole Bubblemen EP, which had only been released on vinyl, finally get the digital treatment, including "The Bubblemen Rap," assayed by David J with enthusiasm if not the most liquid flow. One last goodie -- the highly rare Bubblemen comic, explaining the origins of the species and their fondness for Glenn Miller -- appears, turned into a simple animation soundtracked to "The Bubblemen Are Here."

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
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