You fall in love. You fall out of love. You move on. You leave things behind. Sometimes, you see a glimpse, a reminder of the past, and you wonder how the hell the two of you drifted apart. Such is my relationship with Mercury Rev. It’s not that I don’t recall how we drifted apart, its just that I’ve been reminded quite how furiously I loved this band, and I can’t believe that we let anything come between us.
New on V2, ‘The Essential Mercury Rev’, looks for all the world like a record company cash-in. Generic band shot on the cover, bland modern type. Its a dull exterior that makes you want to move on to the rest of the shrewdly-timed-for-Christmas compilations.
But the formula of the exterior belies the beauty of the interior.
During our affair, shortly after they moved to Beggars, the band released a double A-Side single on 10 inch vinyl. On one side was ‘The Hum Is Coming From Her’, and on the other side, with Robert Creeley, a track called ‘So There’. I believe it was billed as Robert Creeley and the Mercury Rev Orchestrata.
We must be talking 11 years ago, maybe 12.
I adored that track. It was a diversion from where they’d been before. Creeley reading some of his poetry and the band cooking up a storm behind him. One of those things where it made no sense yet it made perfect sense. A cacophony. A beautiful mess.
And I’ve not listened to that track for years. I never had it on CD. I’ve never been tempted to hunt it down online. And yet when I saw that it was on the tracklisting for the 2nd CD of this compilation, I clicked the ‘Buy It Now’ button in a second.
The CD came today and I was half excited, half terrified. What if I’d just been embroidering the memory and the track was actually just a mess of noise, not a glorious mess, just a mess.
I skipped straight to that track, and as Creeley introduced the reading, the band just circle around him in the background, tentatively hunting for the beat.
And then it explodes, and its glorious, my god its fucking glorious. Its not a mess at all. Its a symphony.