The Collection: 1988-1994

Strange Boutique

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The Collection: 1988-1994 Review

by MacKenzie Wilson

The Collection: 1988-1994 is a stunning reflection of Strange Boutique's foxy rock sound. Sometimes known as "Strange Booty" by their biggest fans, Monica Richards (vocals), Fred "Freak" Smith (guitar), Steve Willett (bass), Danny Ingram (drums 1987-1991), and Rand Blackwell (drums 1991-1994) worked insanely hard for six years to make it in the music business. They toured hard and played harder, while delivering some of the most underrated and overlooked material to come out of 1980s post-punk. Exhausted and creatively strained, Strange Boutique were smart enough to call it day when things were still sweet for them as a band. This compilation is a testament to their individuality and fierce dynamic. The Collection: 1988-1994 highlights fan favorites from each of the band's three albums, although not chronologically, but that doesn't lead to distraction. If anything, here's an opportunity to rediscover Strange Boutique classics like "De Milo," "Happy Birthday Wanda June," and "Alekan Girl." On "The Kindest Worlds" and "Ears to the Ground," Smith's playing style is particularly sharp, a signature cascade alongside Richards' hypnotic vocal charm. These songs are ageless. Even Strange Boutique's rendition of David Bowie's "Heroes," a song they would often perform on tour, is outstanding and respectfully done. Despite being snubbed by industry majors, Strange Boutique's darkwave design found its place in alternative rock and the band earned a cultlike status similar to Moev and 24 Gone. This collection is a great place to start if you're unfamiliar with Strange Boutique, and an extra bonus for those who followed them throughout their all too brief tenure. [The previously unreleased video for "De Milo" is included here.]

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