Various Artists

Trademark of Quality [1993]

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The second volume in Warner/Reprise's Trademark of Quality promotional series embodies everything good, bad, and ugly about collecting records. Assembling 21 previously unavailable cuts from the labels' then-current alt-rock rosters, the disc is designed as an instant collectible, available only to those in the know and packaged with an unforgivably arrogant cover ranting against the very insider scum to whom such marketing schemes are designed to appeal. Moving past the smug corporate stuff, the disc lacks the stellar lineup and creative consistency of its predecessor, but there are enough gems to make it worth hunting down. Chief among them are Uncle Tupelo and Joe Ely's stunning rendition of the Waylon Jennings classic "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way," the Flaming Lips' hallucinatory lo-fi narrative "Waterbugs in the Policeman's Ear," and "409 in My Coffeemaker" from Green Day. There's even a track from Boredoms: "My Mum Is Car." Loathsome yet strangely compelling, just like the industry it's representing.

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