Go To Blazes is a band living a strange kind of half-existence at present: while continuing to tour Europe, the Phillly band has ceased to function, at least for the foreseeable future, in its home country. While not meant to bean announcement of the band's demise, this compilation - part retrospective, part obscurities, covers and unreleased material - admirably sums up the band's near-decade of playing and recording.
The opening tracks - three from the band's first long-player, and two from the follow-up "Love, Lust and Trouble" (also recently re-issued on Glitterhouse) - document the band's early sound, which was anchored for the most part in rockabilly (with a few twists, however; witness the surf-twang of "The Wedge"). Although glimpses of what the band would become can be seen here, the tough roots-rock of mature Go To Blazes, midwifed by Eric Ambel, really begins to emerge on the first demos recorded with him in 1991, represented on the disc by "97 Miles," "I Let You Down" and the previously-unreleased "Ain't No Thing."
Several unreleased and hard-to-find tracks follow, none of them throwaways. The deep twang of "Country Girl" and the band's take on Johnny Paycheck's dope tune "Billy Bardot" are particular stand-outs. The disc is rounded out by a run of live covers acknowledging various musical debts: Lou Reed's "There She Goes Again," Gram Parson's "Luxury Liner," two songs from Neil Young's "Harvest" (including a torqued version of "Old Man"), Gene Clark's "Gypsy Rider," and the Flamin' Groovies' "Teenage Head" (with Groovie Roy Loney handling the vocals). More than anything, the covers demonstrate the band integrating these musical influences into its unique, snarling, back-alley 'tonk. If Go To Blazes is truly gone, it will be missed. (Glitterhouse Records, Gr+ner Weg, 25, D-37688 Beverungen, Germany, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)