Arab Strap

Ten Years of Tears

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A practical best-of would be one way to cap a decade-long run of six studio albums, but Arab Strap instead chose to issue this hodgepodge, largely made of alternate versions, B-sides, live cuts, outtakes, and other strays. Originally released to coincide with their late-2006 farewell tour, Ten Years of Tears is unmistakably aimed at fans. Over a third of its contents were previously unreleased, including the first song from their first live performance (which was recorded for John Peel's BBC program: no pressure there), a blasting 1995 demo of "Islands," a gorgeously bleak live version of "Blood," and the very first song they recorded. A very small percentage of the songs are pulled directly from the albums, and the material is unsurprisingly varied in quality, so this really isn't the disc to use as an introduction. The disc's opener -- the 2006 B-side "Preface: Set the Scene," with its uncomplicated contentment -- tells you all you need to know about Aidan Moffat and Malcolm Middleton's amicable split. They might have been on the brink of making a thoroughly happy Arab Strap album, which wouldn't have computed. Or, even worse, they would have felt the need to go through the overly familiar motions, just for the sake of it. (And yes, it is a straight-faced cover of Bonnie Tyler's "It's a Heartache" that comes up after the last listed track.)

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