Their Sympathetic Majesties Request

Various Artists

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Their Sympathetic Majesties Request Review

by Robert Kaups

Their Sympathetic Majesties Request provides the uninitiated with an excellent overview of independent label Sympathy for the Record Industry. This two-disc collection, subtitled "A Decade of Obscurity and Obsolescence (1988-1998)," actually focuses on the first five years of that span, from 1988 to 1993. SFTRI founder and all-around eccentric Long Gone John has a wide range of musical tastes, though most of the music featured here could be included under the catchall description of garage rock. The set veers from the depraved punk of the Dwarves (weighing in with the none-too-subtle "Sit on My Face") to the cheeky, jazz-inflected skronk of Thee Headcoatees "Fish Pie," with notable detours into early tracks by the likes of the Supersuckers ("I'm Poor"), Rocket From the Crypt ("Boy Chucker"), and Hole ("Phonebill Song"). However, as is often the case with compilations that mine obscure veins, the most inspired moments here come from the lesser-known artists, including Monsieur Jeffrey Evans bashing out the rock classic "Shake, Rattle, and Roll," the Shitbirds with the jangle pop of "Baby What's New?," and the Gargoyles' open love letter to Lou Reed, the imaginatively titled "Lou." Other highlights include the clever power pop of the Pooh Sticks ("Soft Beds, Hard Battles"), the 1977 punk stylings of Thee Headcoats ("Hatred, Ridicule, and Contempt"), and the fragile orchestral pop of Spectrum (aka Sonic Boom of Spacemen 3 fame) ("True Love Will Find You in the End"). Due to the schizophrenic nature of Their Sympathetic Majesties Request, it's unlikely that every song will appeal to the average listener, but the scattershot approach also ensures that something here will appeal to any fan of left-of-the-dial music. The CD also features fascinating booklet art by Mark Ryden, a mainstay of the low-brow art movement. All things considered, Their Sympathetic Majesties Request adds up to a very entertaining collection, one that just might turn out to be an indie rock equivalent to '60s garage rock compilations such as Nuggets, Pebbles, and Back From the Grave.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Shitbirds 02:22 SpotifyAmazon
Vacant Lot 01:42 SpotifyAmazon
3 The Nomads 03:09 SpotifyAmazon
Supersuckers 04:23 SpotifyAmazon
5 Trash Can School 04:06 SpotifyAmazon
6 The Pooh Sticks 01:24 SpotifyAmazon
The Muffs 02:10 SpotifyAmazon
8 Dwarves 01:05 SpotifyAmazon
Jonestown 02:26 SpotifyAmazon
Daggers 02:23 SpotifyAmazon
Coneheads 02:31 SpotifyAmazon
12 Hole 01:47 SpotifyAmazon
Sacred Miracle Cave 04:56 SpotifyAmazon
14 Ethyl Meatplow 03:14 SpotifyAmazon
God Bullies 02:06 SpotifyAmazon
El Vez 02:45 SpotifyAmazon
Ron Urini 02:24 SpotifyAmazon
01:38 SpotifyAmazon
Friggs 02:28 SpotifyAmazon
20 The Gibson Bros. 03:46 SpotifyAmazon
Gargoyles 02:46 SpotifyAmazon
Thee Headcoats 01:34 SpotifyAmazon
23 Miracle Workers 05:46 SpotifyAmazon
TRBNGR 02:21 SpotifyAmazon
Blunder Tongue 03:10 SpotifyAmazon
Crowbar Salvation 02:24 SpotifyAmazon
blue highlight denotes track pick