Drag City


Silver Jews

Early Times

Of the past 6 decades in rock and roll, I’d probably rate the 90’s right at the bottom.There are a few bright spots though and in fact a lot of people consider Pavement to be one of the frontrunners for band of the decade. The Silver Jews then do fit into the conversation tangentially as they are sort of the Megadeth to Pavement’s Metallica. So the band does have a devoted fan base, but even then you might be hard pressed to find that many of them that can get through and enjoy the latest Silver Jews release of their early recordings and demos in Early Times.

We are talking about a genre of music that was sort of the anti-thesis of the 80’s where everything was tight and glossy. 90’s rock and roll was gritty and raw and Pavement and Silver Jews fit right into that mold. So listening to raw and gritty recordings of music that is supposed to be raw and gritty anyway is a bit much to take. The songs or demos appear to be recorded on something like a 4-Track in a small room and it sounds exactly the way you think it might sound: Like shit. It’s supposed to sound that like that though, that’s the point, which is why it’s so infuriatingly frustrating for someone that isn’t a hardcore Silver Jews fan to have reference to. The songs on Early Times would eventually be recorded and released on their debut EP The Arizona Record, but it’s been long out of print. Perfect. Instead of listening to the gritty raw songs the way they were meant to be presented let’s enjoy the songs while they’re still working out the arrangements in an
even more raw setting. It’s like reading a 1st draft of a book that badly needs editing, and is full of spelling mistakes, and even if this book is your favourite, you’ll probably still have a hard time getting through it, because well, it was never meant to be read like that.Perhaps if you’re analyzing the Silver Jews discography as a whole in your thesis for music school, you might find these recordings useful. Are people really that interested?

The fact is people get infatuated with the things they love, so there are no doubt lots of Silver Jews fanatics that will gladly put this new record on their shelves, and nobody will care about my challenges on how often they will play it. When I was young, I worked at a used record/CD store and very rarely would we ever get any Beatles traded in, but when we did it was always “The Early Tapes of the Beatles”. What I’m saying is unless you
have every Silver Jews record on your shelf, and have a bunch of money burning a whole in your pocket, you can probably pass on this one, because there a fewer and fewer places to trade your records into.

– Michael Unger

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