Abc Music-The Radio 1 SessionsArtist: Stereolab
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Reviews:Thereis no better way to distinguish yourself as a band than to have your own, easilyidentifiable sound. The trap, though, is that if your sound comes before yoursongs, your records wind up sounding basically interchangeable. That's sort ofwhat's happened with Stereolab. There are obvious differences between the French-Englishgroup's angular early work, 1996's more rounded Emperor Tomato Ketchup (stilltheir peak), and their glossier recent albums. But unless you're already on thebus, it's hard to tell the difference, or care. Thus, like all sound bands, they'reripe for the best-of treatment.
The two-disc ABC Music isn't exactly Stereolab'sgreatest hits, but it's close enough. Collecting a decade's worth of BBC Radiosessions, ABC Music offers a chronological overview of the band's developmentfrom droners-with-attitude (the early single "John Cage Bubble Gum," reprisedhere, sums up their early approach) to their comfier, more lambent recent output."Obvious crowd-pleaser" may seem like an inappropriate way to refer to this adamantcult band's best-loved material, but in Stereolab's self-made context, that'sjust what songs like "Le Boob Oscillator," "Wow and Flutter" (which appears twiceon Disc One), "Metronomic Underground," "Cybele's Reverie," and "French Disko"are. There are also plenty of obscure cult-bait-ace B-sideslike "Les Yper Sound"and "Untitled (Check and Double Check)," previously-unreleased tracks like "Anemie"and "Anamorphose"that fit in perfectly. And despite the band's studio leanings,they're first and foremost a live band, so hearing them bash it all out in more-or-lessone take is a pleasure in itself.