26 June, 2013 in Music Reviews
The Dandy Warhols’ classic third album ’13 Tales…’ is 13 years old, and gets a remastered and expanded re-release for its birthday
emember Napster? So Solid Crew? The Millenium Bug? If names like those sound like dusty invocations of a previous era, that’s because 13 years is actually quite a long time… yet, incredibly, that’s how long it’s been since 13 Tales From Urban Bohemia was first released. How time flies… and now it’s back in remastered and expanded form.
As older readers will recall, the single Bohemian Like You – which was heard on Buffy and soundtracked a Vodafone advert in the UK – became the band’s biggest-ever international hit, marking something of a turning point for the band in terms of commercial success and worldwide recognition. And indeed in retrospect, the whole album sounds like the product of a band at a crossroads, with tracks like Big Indian, Get Off and the aforementioned hit single pointing in the poppier, more mainstream direction in which the Portland quartet would head next (with 2003’s Welcome To The Monkey House), while tracks like Godless and Mohammed operate in the psychedelic/drone/shoegaze territory that was more familiar from the Warhols’ first two long-players.
As such, the main point of interest for fans here will be the bonus second disc, which is comprised mostly of early home demos of tracks from 13 Tales… with a few alternative studio takes and rough mixes thrown in. Which is where the package falters, because the sound quality of these demos is so poor. Rather than throwing a fascinating light upon the evolution of the finished album, they’re likely only to serve to cheer you up that your own bedroom recordings actually sound quite good by comparison! A ferociously overdriven, Stooges-esque take on Bohemian Like You and a fragile, tripped-out acoustic version of Mohammed are the exceptions to this rule; otherwise it has to be said the bonus disc is something of a let-down.
On the plus side, the original album still sounds great. If it’s not in your collection already then you should rectify that, and you might as well grab this two-disc edition while you’re about it. If you already own a copy of the original 13 Tales… though, then the reissue is one that only diehard fans will really be needing.
Verdict: Great to hear this classic album again, but the bonus disc is a ‘completists only’ affair