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Cake - B-Sides & Rarities

Cake, B-Sides And Rarities

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

SACRAMENTO quintet Cake release two new albums on the same day (June 8, 2009), in the form of B-Sides & Rarities, a cohesive collection of remixed and remastered tracks, and Motorcade of Generosity, their 1994 debut album that’s been enhanced with four live performances filmed around the time of the original’s release.

The real gem of the two, however, is B-Sides & Rarities, which marks their first new release since the band decided to opt out of their contract with Columbia Records.

Intended as both a treat and thank you to their fans, it certainly ticks all the right boxes and is a really fun listen.

Lead vocalist and guitarist John McCrea commented: “Aesthetically, many of the songs hadn’t quite worked on previous albums and for years they lacked proper homes. Now they all have a home. It’s good to have a home.”

Good indeed. The highlights fly thick and fast, all delivered in Cake’s laidback, shuffling and deeply inimitable way. One of the band’s greatest hits, for example, provides an easy highlight – namely, an early version of their seminal Short Skirt, Long Jacket, which has enjoyed a fresh burst of life following its use as the theme tune to hit US TV series Chuck. It still sounds immense fun.

But worth checking out too is their horny, kick-ass version of The Muppets’ Mahna, Mahna, which should appeal to the child in everyone, their fun, country-laced and deeply rollicking version of Buck Owen’s Excuse Me, I Think I’ve Got A Heartbreak, and their similarly country-laced, shuffling take on the Kenny Rogers’ ’69 classic Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town. You’ll be singing along with each, we guarantee.

Another track that has to be heard to be believed is their stripped down version of Sinatra’s Strangers In The Night, which may offend the purists but which works in a vaguely Strokesian kind of way (vocally), and with some interesting guitar licks and horn samples. It’s Cake at their most romantic.

Multiply The Heartaches is a bluesy, dusky break-up anthem, Never, Never Gonna Give You Up a hip collection of funk, soul and rock tendencies delivered in the speak-sing style they’re more synonymous with, and It’s Coming Down a fitting finale that could well become a fun summer anthem for UK residents expecting another wet summer (whatever year they put it on the stereo for comfort!).

Die-hard Cake fans should rush out and buy both albums. But the most fun to be had is on B-Sides & Rarities as this really is a fine collection of unearthed gems.

Download picks: Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town, Mahna Mahna, Strangers In The Night, Short Skirt, Long Jacket, It’s Coming Down

Track listing:

  1. War Pigs
  2. Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town
  3. Mahna, Mahna
  4. Excuse Me, I Think I’ve Got A Heartache
  5. Conroy
  6. Strangers In The Night
  7. Multiply The Heartaches
  8. Never, Never Gonna Give You Up
  9. Thrills
  10. Short Skirt, Long Jacket
  11. It’s Coming Down