Gimme Indie Rock, Volume 1
Reviewed by Steven Rubio
Thursday, June 15 2000, 7:05 PM
Perhaps it goes without saying, but just to get the consumer guide out of the way:Gimme Indie Rock is a fine compilation, 30 songs on two CDs encompassing some of the finest music of the 'indie era,' everything from Husker Du and the Minutemen to Eleventh Dream Day and the Feelies. Former Option editor Scott Becker's liner notes place the music in the proper context, and K-Tel's packaging is efficiently ugly and cluttered in a nice indie way. The song selections generally avoid the obvious, although they aren't always the most obscure (it's hard to argue with the choice of "Pink Turns to Blue" to represent Husker Du, but "Eight Miles High" might have been a more valuable choice.) If you're intrigued by a compilation titled "Gimme Indie Rock," then the chances are good that 1) you already own some of these songs, and 2) there's enough material you don't own to make the album worth your money.
Of course, you could probably create your own version of Gimme Indie Rock using Napster and a CD burner, and then take the money you saved and spend it on new albums by existing independent musicians. However, since the primary purpose of compilations like this one is to feed our need for nostalgia, it's unlikely the person who likes Gimme Indie Rock is actually interested in supporting new acts.
Product of this nature (and "product" is what it is) serves several purposes, many of them good and useful ones. It's nice to hear old favorites in a new context; it's good to be exposed to other music you might have missed in its original heyday; and while K-Tel doesn't really need your money, it would be nice if The Wipers picked up an extra buck or two in royalty payments. But nostalgia fests such as "Gimme Indie Rock" by definition negate the original purpose of the music, which, even if the music turned out to be timeless, nonetheless spoke to its time. Gimme Indie Rock attempts to recreate an era. It might be, as Becker writes, "the best, most impassioned rock 'n' roll ever," but as experienced through a 21st-century compilation, it reminds us of past greatness, assures us that what we remembered as great was indeed "the best," and removes the necessity of checking out the current-day versions of "best and impassioned."
In their declining years, my parents used to watch Lawrence Welk every week on television. They weren't big Lawrence Welk fans in their younger days, but in their sixties, they had no need or desire to confront the musical present, and so they relived their pasts through the Bubble Machine. "Gimme Indie Rock" documents an important period in rock and roll history, but if your taste in music stops when The Minutemen's D. Boon died, then "Gimme Indie Rock" is nothing more than Lawrence Welk for the new millenium.
Just Gimme Indie Rock is a K-Tel Records release