2004 will go down as the year of the retrospective, the year of the best-of... the sheer number of them has been more than enough to satiate me for a long, long time. Clan of Xymox now step up to bat with their own entry. The tracks from the "Farewell" era were picked by the fans. Two songs from each Clan album going all the way back to their debut long-player in 1985 were selected by the band.
There are some great moments to be found on this new one from Clan of Xymox. The brilliant "Consolation" springs to mind here as does "There's No Tomorrow". However, he also has re-recorded classic, and I do mean, classic songs. The ones in question? "A Day", "Stranger", "Louise", "Back Door" and "Muscovite Mosquito". This was something I wish he hadn't done. Truly, if ever there was an error to be made, tinkering with any of the tracks from the first two Clan releases would rate right up there with what he did under the Xymox moniker in 1991 when he spliced "Phoenix of my Heart" with "Wild Thing". All of the nuances and textures which I have loved about these five old songs have been utterly ironed out. "A Day" has been rendered into mindless future pop dance shite; "Louise" has had it's pacing altered, and not in a good way, either. Moorings has destroyed the timing of the song by virtue of the verse/chorus structure. The heart-rending pauses and builds which made "Back Door" a soundtrack for my younger days are gone. Completely gone. The very idea that one could improve on a work like "Muscovite Mosquito" is sheer folly. This favourite of mine is not even recognizable what with the levels of the instruments being tweaked with. I am beside myself I'm so goddamn angry. These songs can stand on their own by virtue of their merit, they don't need to get tarted up.
People seem to have forgotten that the first two works by this band featured Anka Wolbert and Pieter Nooten as members. It was not always the Ronny Moorings show. And of course, isn't it interesting that the parts I so enjoyed - ones which I suspect were theirs - have been eradicated from these new versions? Some would be dismissive and state that these versions are the ones which get played live. Fine. Keep them live but don't sully the originals in the studio. Time marches on for the Clan, but the last time I checked, grave-robbing was still a crime.