Home > TheRest > Various Artists – What’s Up Matador

Various Artists – What’s Up Matador

whatsUpMatadorMatador Records, 1997

So what’s better than an album for only a dollar?  An album with two discs that’s only a dollar!  And what counts as the icing?  It’s a two-disc compilation by Matador Records, who have housed many great artists since its inception in 1989.  However, why would such a collection be found in a dollar bin?  Well, you know how it is with compilations.  You get a large collection of music that, on paper, looks like it’ll be absolutely phenomenal to listen to.  I mean hey, there’s Yo La Tengo, Pavement, Guided By Voices, Cat Power, and Superchunk all over the place on this comp.  However, given a full listen one may not feel like they’ve had a riveting experience from song to song.

The first disc of this compilation is reserved for ‘Favorite Songs’ as chosen by someone, which certainly makes one wonder why “Texas Never Whispers” by Pavement was picked.  Wouldn’t “Summer Babe” have been better instead of something off of the “Watery, Domestic” EP?  So yes, one could argue with a few of these and, despite the endless back and forth discussion likely to ensue, one can see that they are at the mercy of someone else’s taste.  It is apparent quickly that this isn’t a Matador Hits compilation but is instead a historical document that represents the label.  Therefore, for the sake of accuracy, the label sacrifices some of the more interesting output from its musicians to make sure songs segue they way they’re supposed to while making sure each song encompasses what each band is about.  What results is a good compilation that represents Matador but perhaps not one anyone would want to listen to much unless they unearthed it from a time capsule decades down the line.

Since there’s too many solid songs to mention and/or link to, maybe try to hear some tunes on the Matador Records website.

I will say that it’s cool to see an some old Spoon and Cat Power tracks on here before they got popular, as well as a bunch of rarities tracks by some name artists on the second disc of unreleased tracks.  It is a rather sighful statement from the liner notes that say all this music “Should ensure hours of listening pleasure, if not a decent resale value”.  Indeed, the resale value was decent for me.  For a buck this is a pretty good compilation that would best be served to pass onto a younger sibling to get them initiated into the non-mainstream.

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