camper_ss500_.jpgSomeone told me the other day that he could never review music because they didn’t have enough references to pick their way through today’s plethora of new songs. Step forward Camper Van Beethoven — godsend for all wordshy journos, musical magpies and something of a soothing panacea for the tired ear of today.

The Californian outfit have released what they would probably prefer to call a retrospective but which to all intents and purposes is a greatest hits. If like me, you’re coming to CVB for the first time then lucky you. Mixing country-tinged folk, eastern-european jiggery, violins, slashy guitar, a Status Quo cover and 80’s wave so new it would make Simon le Bon blush, CVB have sunk their pick into their late 80’s catalogue and struck gold, classics such as “Take the Skinheads Bowling” and “Eye of Fatima” are all present and correct.

For hardcore afficionados compilations often need the hard sell, not so “Popular Songs”. Because of legalities more abstruse then CVB’s own lyrics,
the band had to re-record five songs — a USP so excellent one wonders why this isn’t done more often. Newcomers can sit back and simply let the this glorious introduction splash balmy fun all over them while diehards will take great delight in exploring the differences twenty years or so can make to their favourite band’s sound.


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