Review Summary: The Finest and a few others.
OK, here we go. This album gets a 3.5. And here's how come. The last two tracks at the end of the album are meh at best. They sound nothing like the first twelve, which were all gems. For each of those two song fails, The Finest
is one-half star less fine than it was before. Another one-half star is removed for featuring the better-half of their only two records on it. This was all the music they had; there would be no more. Combine the better halves, add three unreleased tracks and we have The Finest
. A hypothetical, make believe half star is returned to the score for the quality of tracks 1 through 12, bringing the overall score back to 4. ...But between you, me and the internet, it gets a 3.5 by the book.
The Beat (The English Beat in America) had broken up and bassist David Steele and guitarist Andy Cox were all wtf, mate? So the two set out to make their own kick ass new band to beat the super group that emerged from the other half of The Beat, General Public. Bunch of pricks. They had a couple of those Dexy's Midnight Runners. The bassist from The Specials. They got Mick Jones from The Clash on guitar. Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger from The Beat had a solid crew of jerks. Those bastards had a hit song with “Tenderness,”
which was a quality tune, but sounded as if its profits may have just went straight to David Bowie. The remaining Beat members and future Fine Young Cannibals, David Steel and Andy Cox had the odds stacked against them. But they had an ace up their sleeve: Roland Gift. With a soulful voice and the ability to take it to falsetto when need be, this guy was pure win. And with that striking blow, it was game over for General Public. Fine Young Cannibals would have massive hits and huge success in the late 80's. General Public got their song used in Weird Science.
This album is the second consecutive full length released by Fine Young Cannibals that opens with “She Drives Me Crazy.”
This doesn't seem right, and puts me at the brink of taking back the half star. Track number two, “The Flame”
, is the only song recorded specifically for this collection. It's a soulful tune, with a hint of the vintage sound that The Fine Young Cannibals like to draw from. What it has going for it is it blends in nearly seamlessly with the other great tracks surrounding it. What it lacks, unfortunately, is a genuine, unique sound or anything exciting to remember it by. It's not a miss, but as the only new track recorded in four years after a split – it's an uninspired farewell.
“Johnny Come Home”
is the highlight of this collection. This song contains and showcases all the combined potential of Steel, Cox and Gift, at their best. The guitar is fast and jangly, the bassline is a major hook of the song, and Roland Gift, an obvious unique talent, is convincing in his pleas: “Johnny / We're sorry / Won't you come on home? / We worry / Won't you come on home?”
It's no wonder Johnny left, as Rolland continues, “What is wrong / In my life / That I must get drunk every night?”
The song's intro and breakdown is aided by some quality horn work, revealing ska roots in their early sound.
off their massive hit, The Raw and The Cooked
, is a great throwback 60's song that sounds like early rock and roll, with a touch of doo-wop. It's got a moving groove that continues to be enjoyable from beginning to end. “Suspicious Minds”
is an inspired cover by the FYCs, as is their dark, heavily electronic version of The Buzzcock's “Ever Fallen in Love?”
Here they turned a seminal classic punk tune into a dark, angry, dance track. Definitely one of FYCs finest moments.
is an interesting track, taken from their self-titled debut. “Good God, almighty / There's no denying / Life would be better if I never ever had to live with you / Blue.”
Who is this Blue fellow? Maybe he's the reason Johnny wont come home. And how many men do you live with, Roland? It might be time to get a place of your own – perhaps shack up with that girl who drives you crazy - if you can stand it.
Another classic throwback track, “Tell Me What,”
has a malt-shop piano intro, which leads into a near perfect retro-pop arrangement. “Funny How Love Is”
also has a classic, almost black and white, cinematic sound. Possibly the most powerful song in FYCs catalog, “Funny How Love Is”
is the last great track on the album, capping off a two-album worth string of great songs.“Take What I Can Get”
and “Since You've Been Gone”
drag the album down with the final two tracks and threaten to make the record require a name change. Without them, the title is completely appropriate.