Prisoners of Love: A Smattering of Scintillating Senescent Songs 1985-2003
A Smattering of Outtakes and Rarities 1986-2002
Matador Yo La Tengo belongs in the category of bands I like best. Call them lo-fi, indie or garage - it doesn't matter. Heavy on reverb and rhythm, these bands are direct descendants of the most raw and real band to make rock music, the Velvet Underground.
Unfortunately, most bands like Yo La Tengo are long gone. Luna is breaking up. The Talking Heads and The Cars are no more. Television, Joy Division, The Feelies, Dream Syndicate and the rest didn't make it much past the '80s. Nirvana, the band that best carried on the tradition, died young.
Somehow, though, Yo La Tengo rolls on. And the trio improves with each album - something that certainly didn't happen with most of their lo-fi counterparts.
Matador, Yo La Tengo's label for the last half of its existence, has released a two-CD set that captures some of the band's best work over the two decades. A third CD full of outtakes fills in the gaps.
Both are worth buying if you are new to Yo La Tengo and are the kind of person who skips to the "good songs" while listening to an album.
But I'm betting that, if you like this kind of music, you are the kind of person who puts on a CD, pushes repeat and lets it spin for a few hours. Yo La Tengo's albums - especially Summer Sun, And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out and I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One - are great for that. And Georgia Hubley, the band's drummer and singer, worked with Matador to make this "greatest hits" CD one that can be enjoyed that way. Still, I'd suggest people who are new to the band start with one of the albums listed above.
If you already have all of these songs, burn a mix on your computer and buy the rarities CD. It has several songs worth catching - music the band did for off-the-wall movie soundtracks and a sweet remix of "Autumn Sweater."