Mogwai – Government Comissions

MogwaiThere’s quite a few bands out there who have rejected the idea of a “Best Of..” album,  which in recent years has had the stigma of simply being a contractual obligation. Either that, or it’s a filler album that’s released to capitalise on a recent resurgence in popularity or new found standing in the music world. Some bands declared they would never release a “Best Of…” but did anyway (New Order) and some stood by New Order’s stance but then release one anyway (Manic Street Preachers!). Nonetheless, a “Best Of…” album is sometimes a good way to get into a band that you’ve been told you like, but are unsure of what album to get.

This is the case with Mogwai’s Government Commissions album which is a collection of live, BBC session tracks recorded between 1996 and 2003. Taking tracks from all their albums (up to Happy Music For Happy People) and EPs that they’ve released, this is album is a fair representation of Mogwai’s work. What’s brave about it, is that it avoids the quiet, loud, quiet dynamic that they are so well known for. The first four tracks are laid back and show that Mogwai can do music that is gentle and nuanced, the swirling vocals on “Hunted By A Freak” are one of the highlights as well as “Cody” and “Kappa” which are great tracks from my favourite Mogwai album Come On Die Young.

It’s an astonishingly tight version of “Like Herod” that kicks things up a gear. Despite years of publicly mocking their own abilities to play live, the band are ferocious here. It’s a long track to get into, but it’s worth the wait. “Superheroes of BMX” is again, a favourite track of mine and it’s good to hear it here. But the crowning jewel is my favourite Mogwai track “New Paths To The Helicon Part 1” a rare track that I originally had on a CD that came with a music magazine. It’s a shimmering track that build into a huge blinding sound that is so beautiful, it’s almost overwhelming. Even though I have the rest of the tracks on their original albums, this was the one track that made Government Commissions a must buy for me. If you’ve not bought any Mogwai albums before, this would be a good place to start, followed by their début Young Team.

Mogwai – Punk Rock (this is the opening track on Come On Die Young, and it samples an interview Iggy Pop did in the late 70’s. His views on music are pretty much how I feel. Here the original video is synced with the music):

Mogwai – Hunted By A Freak:

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