If you already own every Ty Segall single, this CD may seem redundant, but for me, it fills in a number of gaps, since I don't collect many seven-inches anymore.
Mostly, it's just a great rock & roll record, especially for those who prefer the San Francisco singer/guitarist at his most unhinged. Although I liked this year’s Goodbye Bread, and wouldn't consider it a sell-out move, it wasn't as visceral as 2010’s Melted, so I can't rank it as high, good as it is (especially the title track).
For my money, there's a clear demarcation between Segall MKI and MKII, and it arrives with track 12, "My Sunshine," one of Melted's standout selections (see also #15, "Caesar"). This is the point at which the fuzz, the distortion, and the ragged exhortations take on a more classic shape—classic as in the '60s proto-punk that's always been one of his driving forces. You could throw "My Sunshine" on a long-lost Nuggets collection, and it would fit just fine between ? and the Mysterians and the Chocolate Watchband (especially since he rips off the Sonics' "Have Love Will Travel"—hey, if you're gonna steal, steal from the best!).
Segall has always been a fine songwriter, but his taste in covers also deserves credit, and this set includes Chain Gang ("Son of Sam"), Thee Oh Sees ("Maria Stacks"), Simply Saucer ("Bullet Proof Nothing"), and the Gories ("I Think I've Had It"). On his last tour, he covered Black Sabbath, but there's no "Paranoid" here—and it probably wouldn't fit as well or cost as little. Maybe next time.
The 25-track collection adds six demos to the singles, which reveal time spent with the collected works of Bo Diddley (and maybe John Lee Hooker), possibly because Segall started out as a one-man band who sang, strummed, and drummed at the same time, and the early numbers pivot on a primitive, Diddley-style beat.
Some of the demo vocals also betray the influence of Thee Oh Sees' Jon Dwyer (that high-pitched cartoon croon); not exactly the world's worst influence, but Segall's at his best when he sounds most like himself, another primary characteristic of MKII. Then there's "Fuzzy Cat." As Syd Barrett impressions go, it's pretty good, but I find it more irritating than not (and I like fuzzy cats!).
Lest anyone think I write about Segall too often, please note that I resisted the impulse to blog about the Craigslist ad in which a Bay Area goob was looking to hire a Segall impressionist for his next party (the man himself was welcome to apply for the minimal-wage gig). Wait, I think I just wrote about it. Blame Travis Ritter; it's all his fault for bringing it to my attention. Now buy this record.
Singles is out now on Goner, Goodbye Bread is on Drag City.