Feeder have gradually transcended from writing grunge-inspired rock music, to being pop-stars, to writing more emotional music over the course of their career since the release of 1996’s ‘Swim’ E.P. 10 years after that release, with a 25-song stream of (mostly) great singles from 6 (mostly) great albums behind them, they release the obligatory ‘Greatest Hits’ package, released as a singles compilation in this instance, along with three new songs. Of course, singles albums are usually weaker than greatest hits compilations – several non-singles are omitted because they weren’t released as singles. This problem has been seen from everyone from The Clash to Blink 182, so naturally it affects Feeder too – great songs like ‘Waiting For Changes’, ‘Tinsel Town’, ‘So Well’, ‘We Can’t Rewind’, ‘Oxygen’, ’Helium’ and ‘Bitter Glass’ are left out altogether along with several brilliant B-sides like ‘Feel It Again’ - but generally Feeder’s stronger songs have been released as singles. However, with so many songs released they can not all fit on single 80-minute CD and as a result some great singles – like ‘Paper Faces’ and ‘Stereo World’ – are left out to accommodate the better known songs. To combat this, Feeder’s relationship with their fans came to the fore as they released two formats – one at £9.99 containing 18 of their best (read most popular) singles with two previously unreleased tracks; and one package at only 3 pounds more which contains the 20-song CD along with a second DVD disc entitled ‘The Videos’, which as you may guess, contains all 25 of those aforementioned singles plus aborted single ‘Piece By Piece’ in their video form, and in chronological order. What a great idea! Also included on the DVD disc are the sleeve notes, or Feeder history, which aren’t included in the 2-disc editions CD booklet and are backed by the two unreleased songs on the CD (which obviously aren’t on the DVD as they don’t have videos). Naturally, the 2-disc edition is the superior buy, as you get 26 videos for £3 extra, so this is what I will focus the review on.
Obviously, most people will know of Feeder and at least one of their songs, and most people will familiar with the majority of the CD, but to recap: Opener ‘Come Back Around’ was the comeback single after original drummer Jon Lee’s tragic death in 2002. It is a blistering, thumping song that is tinged with sadness, but also has an uplifting feel to it - the song was very poignant upon its release. The album that followed ‘Come Back Around’ – ‘Comfort In Sound’ – is also represented by the singles ‘Just The Way I’m Feeling’ (which sounds like Grant Nicholas was staring out of a rainy window for hours before writing it), ‘Forget About Tomorrow’ – a testament to Nicholas’ growing skills a musical arranger - and the albums title track, ‘Comfort In Sound’. The album ‘Comfort In Sound’ followed on from Feeder’s most successful album to date. 2001’s ‘Echo Park’ was a poppy and accessible dilution of the sound Feeder had explored on their previous two EP’s and two albums, yielding hit summer singles ‘Seven Days In The Sun’ and ‘Turn’. However, the biggest result of Feeder’s more accessible sound was, of course, the infectious smash single ‘Buck Rogers’ in all it’s singalong glory, which got Feeder up to the heady heights of No2 in the charts, sending the album sales sky-rocketing. Fair game, because ‘Buck Rogers’ was the summer single that everyone was singing. The almighty radio single of ‘Just A Day’ (originally the B-side on ‘Seven Days In The Sun’) was then re-released just after ‘Echo Park’, and promoted it on the singles inside sleeve. It was the last Feeder recording that Jon Lee played on.
However, before the release of the two aforementioned albums, Feeder were not a household name, with the 1997 album ‘Polythene’ and the 1999 album ‘Yesterday Went Too Soon’ to their name. ‘Polythene’ is represented on ‘The Singles’ by the slow, acoustic, thick-sounding ‘Suffocate’ and the uplifting summer anthem ‘High’. ‘High’ is a great single with catchy chorus, and showed early on the potential of Feeder’s quieter side, where ‘Suffocate’ is effects-laden and sounds like a hybrid of their quieter side and heavier side. Also, the single version is different to the album version, as it was with many of Feeder’s singles around this time It is, however, a slightly odd choice for a single, though a great song and one of my personal favourites. The album that followed this is widely regarded as Feeder’s best album, and rightly so in my opinion. ‘Yesterday Went Too Soon’ is a fantastic long-player packed with great songs that work so well together as a set. Naturally this may lead to fears that as singles the songs released wouldn’t stand up very well – but the two songs represented here are fantastic. ‘Insomnia’ is a thumping ode to late night raids on the medicine cabinet and ‘Yesterday Went To Soon’ is a sweeping, epic sounding ballad complete with soaring string parts that features one of Nicholas’ best vocal performances to date. For such a great album I think it’s a shame that it has been glossed over in favour of more recent, radio-friendly material that will more likely be recognised by newcomers to the band. Still, would have been nice to see the awesome single version of ‘Paper Faces’ here. The last album represented is their most recent, ‘Pushing The Senses’. If anyone wants to know my personal thoughts on this album then I’ve reviewed it in the Feeder section of the site. Personal opinions on how relatively innocuous and boring the set is notwithstanding, it was Feeder’s biggest selling album in 2005, debuting in No2 in the album charts. It is here represented by all 4 singles that came of the album, which to be fair are the pick of 'Pushing The Senses' by far. ‘Feeling A Moment’ is a brilliant uplifting, soaring composition with a mighty chorus; ‘Tumble And Fall’ is a quiet, soft song that washes over you in a nice kind of way; ‘Pushing The Senses’ is a hard-rocking return to form in depths of the mire found on the album of the same, with a really quality riff and great singable chorus. ‘Tender’ was released as a double-A side, with the previous B-Side of Tumble And Fall, ‘Shatter’, also featured on ‘The Singles’. ‘Shatter’ was re-released on petition to the band by it’s fans, and showed that the band’s fanbase were craving a return to the rockier days of ‘Yesterday Went Too Soon’ and ‘Echo Park’, as ‘Shatter’ is one of Feeder’s heaviest songs yet, with quite a few samples and sound effects added into the mix. ‘Tender’ is an odd choice for a single, with it’s tinkling piano, but it really grows on you after several listens and is actually quite a good song.
As with singles compilations released before, the artist is obligated to record a few new songs to make the album buyable for people who own all the band’s albums already. How superbly cynical a move it is. However, Feeder are exempt because by buying ‘The Singles’ you also get non-album tracks ‘Just A Day’ and ‘Shatter’, both of which are really worth having. Of the new songs, ‘Lost & Found’ is the lead-off single for ‘The Singles’, and is a welcome return to the band’s rockier roots, despite being a fairly weak standalone song. ‘Burn The Bridges’ is better, again more rock-orientated. It has a really good chorus as well, and should be really good live, and is of the same vein as ‘Come Back Around’. The final new track, ‘Save Us’ is kind of weak-sounding, with unconvincing lyrics and a string section that for once sounds out of place. However, the three new tracks are a decent addition overall, along with the two aforementioned non-album singles. One final point to make is that the CD’s tracklisting is not in chronological order, maybe due to the omissions of 6 other songs. This makes it more accessible to the newer listener, and thus ‘The Singles’ provide a recommended starting point to the band. It also makes a good listen for longtime fans, as the tracks are sequenced well enough that they could (almost) constitute a standalone album.
The deluxe edition of ‘The Singles’, as well as sporting a slipcase and a rather nifty red band to stop the CD from falling out, contains a bonus disc entitled ‘The Videos’. As I have already mentioned, it contains videos for the 25 singles Feeder have released over the years, along with the video for the aborted ‘Echo Park’ single, ‘Piece By Piece’. The 26 tracks on the DVD are also in chronological order, starting with recent single ‘Lost & Found’, and ending with the video for their first single, from the ‘Swim E.P’, ‘Stereo World’. Obviously, running through the good and bad points of 26 videos is not an enviable task – so naturally I’ll skive it. Also, a reviewer commenting on which videos he like isn’t exactly useful or particularly needed, and anyway, most of the videos will have been aired on music channels at some point.
It is worth mentioning that ‘The Videos’ is not available as a standalone DVD – this is a really nice move of the band, unlike the majority of their contemporaries who sell a 20 track ‘singles’ CD and a 13 track ‘videos’ DVD for a tenner or so each. Feeder’s vast amount of videos is a great bonus for the package – providing over two hours of Feeder videos – and is great for the completist who will now be able to have the archive of Feeder’s videos in their collection. The DVD contains 6 songs not included on the CD version of the album – the aforementioned ‘Piece By Piece’, and also ‘Find The Colour’ (from ‘Comfort In Sound’), ‘Day In Day Out’ and 'Paper Faces’ (from ‘Yesterday Went Too Soon’), ‘Crash’, ‘Tangerine’ and ‘Cement’ (from ‘Polythene’), and finally ‘Stereo World’ (from ‘Swim’). First and foremost, most of these are really good songs (except ‘Tangerine’!) but all are available on the respective albums, in fact, ‘Stereo World’ is also on ‘Polythene’. Still, it once again provides a good starting place for newcomers and shows the depth of material Feeder have at their disposal. Secondly, ‘Paper Faces’ is present in it’s single mix, which eschews the sound effects at the start and has a shorter, more immediate impact. ‘Paper Faces’ is one of Feeder’s best songs, at least in my opinion, and the single version is arguably better than its album counterpart.
Most of the videos you will already have seen – the famous D.I.Y video to ‘Just A Day’ is here in all it’s glory; ‘Tender’ is accompanied by a psychedelic clip of the band silhouetted against an electric blue background; ‘High’ has a purple-themed video that takes in snooker and fish; ‘Tangerine’ is early Feeder with long hair and boiler suits playing in a seedy room in some guy’s house while throwing, appropriately, tangerines around; ‘Insomnia’ has the band playing in a living room; ‘Lost & Found’ has that headache-inducing clip following chavs around Wales, ‘Suffocate’ follows Grant Nicholas on the London underground, where everyone is walking backwards, and ‘Piece By Piece’ follows a 3D mannequin as he jumps out of a window in a crazy 3 dimensional computer-generated New York.
‘The Videos’ is a quality addition to the package, and really showcases the band’s regard to their fanbase. Overall, ‘The Singles’ is a great buy, whether you are a new fan or an old hand. In this age of downloading you face a choice, as it would be much easier to just download all the songs you haven’t got, but you’d be missing out on a good 26 videos and a really good overall product. Feeder have something that will appeal to virtually anyone, but as it is a compilation, fans that own the majority of the albums probably need not bother.