A couple of year’s ago I wrote a review of Sebadoh’s Bubble and Scrape, for no other reason than I happened to listen to it for the first time in a while and wanted to give it some dues. Now, following on from other Sebadoh long-players The Freed Man and III, Bubble and Scrape is getting the re-release treatment, giving anyone who didn’t rush out and buy it after 2006’s gushing write-up another chance.
Eagle-eyed readers will note the addition of an extra star over there on the left, for which I make no apologies. I bloody love this album. Sebadoh were/are one of the most important groups in my music listening timeline - the fact that they set the bar way back in the early 90s and that bar still rarely gets challenged (even after a couple of unprecedented years of new music exposure courtesy of this site) is testament to their all-round indie rock greatness.
From album opener and possibly one of the finest songs about a relationship breaking down Soul and Fire (“Not there to soothe your soul, friend to tender friend, I think our love is coming to an end”), to the sheer abandon of closer Flood and it’s promise of a truly awesome and terrifying night: “Yeah. Alright. We’re gonna ride with the flood tonight!” It’s an album full of invention, balls, paranoia, intimacy and energy that flies around in all directions, barely held together by its basic home-recorded style production.
Previously, I name checked a few songs as album highs, how I missed Sacred Attention out of that list is inexcusable as to me it sounds like Sebadoh playing Fugazi – and if you know what I mean by that, then you know. If you don’t – then try and find out, it will be worth it. But to be honest, all the tracks stand-up – even ‘difficult’ tracks such as Elixir is Zog and No Way Out have a role to play, representing the stoned psychotic side of an album and group with several personalities.
As for additional material that comes with the re-release, it’s an assortment of odds, sods and demos including mashed-up versions of Sister, Happily Divided and Emma Get Wild that are even rawer than the originals and worth a listen. A nice, new, positive acoustic take on Soul and Fire (“There to soothe your soul, friend to tender friend, call me if you ever want to start again”.) and some obligatory sonic recording tomfoolery in the Freed Man vain. All in all 15 extra ‘tracks’ probably best categorised by the titles of two of them Visibly Wasted and Messing Around.
But it’s not really about the extras. It’s incredible to think that Bubble and Scrape was originally released 15 years ago. That it has aged so well, justifies its classic status. A lot of albums have come and gone in those years and yet it still punches its weight and holds a lofty position in my all time favourites. I look forward to the day where I can pass this to future generations and say ‘Listen. This is the music I loved as a young man’.