we wanna be your friends!
the rubinoos' unreleased catalog uncovers unheard gold
The Rubinoos| One, Two, That's It!
Another Crimes and Unreleased
(Air Mail, 2007)
A couple of sweet lifetimes on from their Beserkley days, the lovely and talented Rubinoos have raided their cupboards for a sweet collection of mostly unreleased songs that proves just how vital and needed their kind of music is. Why, the people of the world would stop fighting with each other right away after a chorus of "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend"! What kind of driver would even think to cut off another car on the highway with the choir boy vocals of the great Jon Rubin spinning in his CD player? What the world needs now, my friends, is love, sweet love, and that means the Rubinoos.
So fancy the coincidence that Messrs. Rubin, Tommy Dunbar and Al Chan have cooked up a delectable souffle of songs not previously heard and others hardly heard at all. Produced for the Japanese market only, One, Two, That's It! collects the Another Crimes digital EP, which nicely extended the concept of the Rubinoos' Crimes Against Music covers album; a jolly, eclectic quartet of previously unreleased covers; and various odds and sods from throughout the years making their first public appearances anywhere. All told, there are 19 tracks on two CDs, and every one is a classic.
Three of the previously-unreleased songs are from the Twist Pop Sin sessions. All three are as good or better than what wound up on the album. The vibrant "You Started It" has that unmistakable Rubinoos sound, buoyed by Jon Rubin's typically endearing lead vocal, great harmonies, an insanely catchy melody, and a hook to die for. The insanely-pretty "Gone Gone Gone," sweetly sung by Tommy, is hands-down one of the Rubinoos' best ballads. The pedal steel lines, played with tenderness by Greg Leitz, are especially lovely. The gorgeous, soulful ballad "Pain Killer" is one of those songs that demands multiple, consecutive replays.
But wait, there's more! A demo of "Stop Before We Start," a song that was intended for the fateful Party of Two EP, is a typically catchy Rubinoos single-that-never-was. "Another Side of You" puts Al Chan in the spotlight with a lead vocal that simply shines on this mondo pretty song written for the Rubinoos' pal Alanna Ubach. The bouncy, poppy "Two of Us," recorded in the early 1980s on a Teac 4-track recorder, originally appeared on the private pressing of the rarities collection Bomb Shelter, but appears here with improved sound. "Grey on Grey," which originally appeared on the Rubinoos-offshoot Vox Pop album, was waxed once again for the Rubes' Paleophonic disc, but didn't make the final cut. That is the version that appears here. I agree with Jon's view that the alternate stab at the Party of Two track "If I Had You Back" sounds better than the one that appeared on the actual EP.
One, Two, That's It!'s second CD spins eight cover songs, four of which make up the Another Crimes digital EP. The previously-unreleased tracks are, once again, just as good or better than what appeared on both Another Crimes and Crimes Against Music. There are two versions of Graham Gouldman's seminal "Bus Stop"--an upbeat, so-called "single mix" with a pronounced psychedlic lilt that almost reinvents the song, and an alternate mix that builds quite differently, starting with vocals and percussion only. It's a phenomenal showcase for the Rubinoos' vocal harmonies.
Also covered here and appearing for the first time: a sumptuous solo vocal take on the Bond theme "From Russia with Love," and a dizzying, incredibly clever, fun-fun-fun, a cappella version of Frank Zappas' "Absolutely Free." This one, you've got to hear to believe! Another Rubinoos classic!
Toss in a trio of jingles recorded for the Air Mail label and you've got a package that simply sings. Remember: This is a Japanese-only release, so it probably won't be around long. A terrific showcase for Tommy Dunbar's always-right-on pop writing sensibilities and the Rubinoos' always-spot-on pop instincts, One, Two, That's It! is, well, it!
March 2, 2008
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