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Eels - Meet The Eels: Essential Eels 1996-2006 Volume 1

Eels, Meet The Eels 1996-2006 Volume 1

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

EELS fans are in for a real treat as the band celebrates its first decade in the music industry. As well as a forthcoming tour, Eels are releasing three CDs by way of a retrospective, cramming all their greatest moments (and there are many) into a definitive package that’s set to leave any dedicated follower beaming.

First and foremost is Meet The Eels: Essential Eels 1996-2006, a killer greatest hits collection comprised of 24 classic tracks ranging from the seminal Mr E’s Beautiful Walk and Susan’s House to the lesser known likes of Last Stop: This Town and I Like Birds.

As if that wasn’t enough, the CD includes a bonus DVD featuring 12 promotional videos.

The first four songs come from the band’s 1996 debut Beautiful Freak and include Novocaine For The Soul, with its trippy, happy go-lucky chorus, and Susan’‘s House, which cleverly marries desperate observations on the decaying state of society with a child-like, almost whimsical chorus. It’s a song that has rarely been bettered in their back catalogue and one that stands the test of time.

Your Lucky Day In Hell, meanwhile, underlines Mark Oliver Everett’s ability to marry telling melodies with paradoxical lyrics.

Elsewhere, there’s an aching romanticism surrounding 3 Speed in which Everett pleads to be told “what’s going on”, while Last Stop: This Town successfully marries more innocent melodies with dark observations on the perversity of life (“you’re dead but the world keeps spinning”). The beats are wonderful.

Another firm highlight is Flyswatter, with its warped, almost Tim Burton-esque melodies, and imaginative lyrics: “field mice, head lice, spiders in the kitchen, don’t think twice about whatever keeps you itching…”

Mr E’s Beautiful Blues continues to be a track that puts a smile on the face on the darkest of days (and one that has obtained cult status since forming a key part of the Road Trip soundtrack).

And the rock-tastic Souljacker Part 1 proves that the band can get down and dirty when the mood takes them, the thrusting bassline eventually giving way to a rabble-rousing central riff over the chorus.

Fresh Feeling, meanwhile, marries another blissful beat with some equally wonderful strings and a keen sense of optimism that isn’t always found in their material. It’ll keep you feeling fresh.

I Need Sleep is a highlight from the Shrek 2 soundtrack that refuses to wallow in too much sentiment whilst still sounding young at heart, whilst Hey Man (Now You’re Really Living) is an anthem for anyone who thinks life has become mundane. You’ll be leaping around the living room in giddy fashion, especially when the hand claps and trumpets kick in.

Take it from us, there’s not really a bad track in the collection, even if their take on Get UR Freak On takes the longest amount of time to warm to.

Having been spoilt rotten with the main greatest hits collection, the 50 track Useless Trinkets: B-Sides, Soundtracks, Rarities and Unreleased 1996-2006 still manages some equally memorable moments.

Longtime concert favourite Living Life, from the Daniel Johnston tribute gig, is an early gem, as is the previously unreleased 2006 cover of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ I Put A Spell On You.

Look out, too, for their cover on Prince’s If I Was Your Girlfriend, a unique live BBC recording of Novocaine For The Soul and a strong remix of Mr E’s Beautiful Blues.

Really, the hits just keep on coming, making both CDs a wonderful way to celebrate the Eels first 10 years of music-making. Long may the quality continue…

Download picks: Mr E’s Beautiful Blues, Susan’s House, 3 Speed, Flyswatter, Fresh Feeling, Trouble With Dreams, Hey Man (Now You’re Really Living), Novocaine For The Soul

Track listing:
Disc 1

  1. Novocaine For The Soul
  2. Susan’s House
  3. My Beloved Monster
  4. Your Lucky Day In Hell
  5. 3 Speed
  6. Last Stop This Town
  7. Climbing To The Moon [Jon Brion remix]
  8. Flyswatter
  9. I Like Birds
  10. Mr. E’s Beautiful Blues
  11. It’s A Motherfucker
  12. Souljacker Part 1
  13. That’s Not Really Funny
  14. Fresh Feeling
  15. Get Ur Freak On
  16. Saturday Morning
  17. Love Of The Loveless
  18. Dirty Girl [live at Town Hall]
  19. I Need Some Sleep
  20. Hey Man (Now You’re Really Living)
  21. I’m Going To Stop Pretending That I Didn’t Break Your Heart
  22. Trouble With Dreams
  23. Railroad Man
  24. Losing Streak

Disc 2

  1. Novocaine For The Soul [video/DVD]
  2. Susan’s House [video/DVD]
  3. Rags To Rags [video/DVD]
  4. Your Lucky Day In Hell [video/DVD]
  5. Last Stop This Town [video/DVD]
  6. Cancer For The Cure [video/DVD]
  7. Flyswatter [video/DVD]
  8. Souljacker Part 1 [video/DVD]
  9. Saturday Morning [DVD]
  10. Hey Man (Now You’re Really Living) [DVD]
  11. Trouble With Dreams [DVD]
  12. Dirty Girl [live at Town Hall/DVD]