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coverpic flag US - New Jersey - Full Moon 106 - 05/23/05

Yo La Tengo
Prisoners of Love: A Smattering of Scintillating Senescent Songs 1985-2003

Yo La Tengo - bless their cotton socks - are the loveliest people I've never met. Sure, I've seen them in concert a good few times, but I've never met Ira, Georgia and James in person. And I haven't hung out with them. But I'd really like to.

You see, Yo La Tengo are normal people. I get the impression they're self-deprecating, have a great sense of humour, and are totally down-to-earth. I could sit around a while with them spinning some records and eating corn chips. No problems.

And the music? Well, that's just dandy - and the Yo La Tengo personality really comes across in this nice little selection of tunes from their nigh-on twenty years of musicmaking. I'm not normally one for 'best of' collections, but following the disappointment I suffered from the lacklustre Summer Sun, I wanted to fall in love with Yo La Tengo all over again. And Prisoners of Love has gone and done it.

It's not that it's a particularly great release in itself. There are some personal favourites of mine that haven't made the cut ("Damage", "Deeper Into Movies", "Sudden Organ"), the sequencing is pretty random and doesn't set all of the songs in the best light, and this trio of decent CDs could perhaps have been squeezed down into a brilliant two.

But for anyone who hasn't got into Yo La Tengo yet, here's the perfect opportunity to become familiar with all the classics: "Sugarcube", "Pablo and Andrea" (which contains the world's coolest guitar solo), "Blue Line Swinger" - the list goes on. There are a few songs from almost all the YLT albums, and they give a fairly even representation of what's on offer.

However, what's really missing here, and what steers me back to Electropura, I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One and And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out is the wonderfully coherent album feel of everything they release. A 'best of' simply doesn't touch upon the brilliance of the albums themselves.

So, go out and get most of their albums and imagine yourself with Ira, Georgia and James, hanging out and cutting loose. And maybe quietly making some of the best music of the last twenty years.

Copyright © 2005 Tim Clarke e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Yo La Tengo articles/reviews: And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out, Fade, I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass, I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One, John Dee, Oslo, Norway, 02.11.06, Popular Songs, Stuff Like That There, Stupid Things EP, Summer Sun, The Sounds of the Sounds of Science, You Can Have It All b/w Ready-Mades.

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