Today on Blogcritics
Home » Music » Reviews music » Music Review: The Eels – Meet the Eels: Essential Eels 1996-2006, Vol. 1

Music Review: The Eels – Meet the Eels: Essential Eels 1996-2006, Vol. 1

Please Share...Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Share on LinkedIn0Pin on Pinterest0Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

The Eels, led by Mark Oliver Everett, better known as E, celebrate a decade’s worth of music by releasing Meet the Eels, a best-of collection to introduce themselves to new listeners, and the incorrectly titled Useless Trinkets, a collection of 50 rare tracks and a DVD of their 2006 Lollapalooza performance.

The great thing about The Eels is the wonderful adventures they take the listener on. There’s no telling what sounds and stories are going to take place one track to the next or even within a song. There are beautiful piano ballads and dirty electric rockers, lyrics about dealing with the loss of a loved one and the plight of field mice. One moment E will show you life is funny, but just as quickly it turns out it’s “not ha ha funny” as he makes clear on “3 Speed.” Sometimes the music perfectly fits the mood like the raucous vibe on “Souljacker part 1” reflecting Johnny’s anger, yet E is more than willing to juxtapose beautiful arrangements with unhappy lyrics of frustrated and failed relationships during “Your Lucky Day in Hell” and “It’s a Motherfucker,” the latter of which E used the same piano Neil Young played on After the Gold Rush. The only limitations are E’s imagination.

The first track is “Novocaine for the Soul,” probably the best-known Eels’ song, from the debut Beautiful Freak. It begins with the gloriously familiar sound of the static created by a needle dropping onto a record. The remaining 23 tracks offer a fair sampling of the band’s six albums and an insight into what was taking place in E’s life over the years. As an artist, he opens himself up and reveals his growing pains, particularly in relationships. He shares moments we can identify, from heartbreak of “Hey Man (Now You're Really Living)” when you “cry your guts out 'til you got no more/…'bout someone that you're never gonna get to touch” to the awareness of “I'm Going To Stop Pretending That I Didn't Break Your Heart.”

People who think they are new to the band might be more aware of them then they realize because Hollywood loves The Eels, using many of their songs in films and television. “My Beloved Monster” and “I Need Some Sleep” were in the first two Shreks respectively; “Fresh Feeling” was in the television show Scrubs; and “Souljacker” was used in Hot Fuzz and The Condemned. The most frequent song used is “Mr. E's Beautiful Blues,” appearing in Road Trip, Charlie Bartlett, and A Guy Thing. The song has an interesting history because it almost didn’t appear on Daises of the Galaxy. The label wanted it, but E didn’t think it fit the album. A compromise was reached and it was included as a bonus track. At the time E stated, “You can think of it as buying the album and getting a bonus track, or buying the single and getting a bonus album.”

The album also contains two previously unreleased tracks, “Climbing to the Moon” (Jon Brion Remix) and a cover of Missy Elliot’s “Get Ur Freak On,” which used to be played a lot during the Shootenanny! tour, and a live version of “Dirty Girl” from With Strings: Live At Town Hall.

The personality of E shines throughout this package. He offers insight and reflections in the liner notes. On the DVD, which contains 12 videos by the band, E and his dog Bobby Jr. provide the commentary track. It’s hysterical as he stops the monologue at one point and focuses on the delivery of Chinese food for his lunch. E is honest to a fault, claiming he hates the video for “Susan’s House” and thinks it’s a “real piece of shit” because it spells out everything happening in the lyrics. He barely has any memory of the behind-the-scenes on “Your Lucky Day in Hell” and eats his fortune crackers. “Rags to Rags” and “Cancer for the Cure” only appear in this collection as videos.

About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS
  • http://www.confessionsofafanboy.com Josh Hathaway

    I just picked this package up this weekend, mostly because I loved “Novacaine for the Soul.” I’m going to have to listen to these songs more carefully than I am right now because some of them have seemed interesting and worth a bit more concentration.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Interesting because I don’t think much else sounds like Novacaine. They do deserve concentration. To me E is more an artist who uses music as his medium. Souljacker might well be my favorite. I have to see them live. Just missed them this year due to family in town.