Deal's Gone Bad

The Longest Happy Hour

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Chicago's finest pull up their bar stools and relive their good old (musical) days on this stellar compilation that celebrates with selections from Deal's Gone Bad's first three albums. Bundling up in chronological order tracks from 1998's Large and in Charge, the following year's Overboard, 2002's Guide to Boat Drinks and Cruise Cocktails, and two unreleased numbers recorded for compilations in 2003, The Longest Happy Hour superbly sums up the group's soggy story so far. Over these years the group's lineup has changed, and consequently both their sound and style has subtly shifted, but what hasn't changed is the quality of their songs, the tasty arrangements, the clever lyrics, and the excellent musicianship. Enough numbers from each of their albums are included to insure listeners know just what they've missed, with the final two tracks suggesting what more is still in store. "Hang 'Em High," a tip of the ten-gallon hat to the early reggae craze for Westerns with a decided dub twist, is a delight, but it's the cover of "Masters of War" that is truly astounding. The Wailers (or even Damian Marley) couldn't have done a better job of turning Bob Dylan's angry antiwar protest anthem into the ultimate roots rockers cry of militant defiance. Even if you have all the group's albums, this track alone is worth the price of admission.