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Black Box Recorder - The Worst Of Black Box Recorder

The Worst Of Black Box Recorder may indeed live up to its self-mocking title, but it is hardly a piece of crap. The inevitable b-sides and rarities collection by this British threesome is somewhat less satisfying than their two full-length offerings, but that is mostly due to the hodgepodge origins of the tracks. Hell, enough of the songs here—written and sculpted by Luke Haines (also of The Auteurs) and John Moore, and sung by Sarah Nixey—are so good as to make this one of 2001's damn-near-essential records. If you discard the rather slight covers of Terry Jacks' "Seasons In The Sun" and Bowie's "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide" that bookend the album, in fact, you have a nearly flawless collection of tracks. "Start As You Mean To Go On" has about the meanest teeth of any rock track you'll ever hear from this mostly delicate band; that one and other of the Worst selections, "Brutality," also appear as bonus tracks on the American version of the most recent album, The Facts Of Life, released earlier this year.

The centerpiece of the record is an absolutely naughty remix of "The Facts Of Life" by The Chocolate Layers, which is Pulp's Jarvis Cocker and Steve Mackey in disguise. The Pulpsters frame this ballad of sexual exploration, which actually was a top 20 hit in the U.K., with sound bites of children fumbling for non-sexual ways to explain how babies are made and narration by a woman explaining what it takes for her to be, um, satiated. It's both funnier and sexier than any 1970s porn soundtrack.

Another key remix of the reggae track "Uptown Top Ranking" (originally on their first album, England Made Me) supersedes the album version. Other subversively delicious tracks on this collection of odds and ends make it all worthwhile. A short album of mostly short songs, many of which would seem like trifles on their own, Worst in no way threatens Suede's brilliant, sprawling Sci-Fi Lullabies as the best b-sides collection of the last five years, but it offers additional proof, as if any was needed, that BBR are in the elite class of modern pop song stylists, and does it in a most alluring way. Do not play unless at least one method of birth control is within easy reach. address: JetSet