This two disc anthology contains tracks from 15 albums recorded by Richard Haswell between 1998 and 2008. Up until 2004 he recorded using 4-track, and since then it has all been recorded by laptop. And it sounds fantastic. As would be expected from this set up, many of the songs are just guitar and vocals, although often with an added edge. ‘Act 3’ starts off this way before moving into a heads down no-nonsense boogie that Status Quo would be proud of. ‘Hannalou’ brings to mind Ryan Adams, ‘Phoenix’ is 5 minutes of out and out rock, sounding a little like Beck’s ‘Novacaine’, and a couple of tracks (‘Cuckoo’ and ‘Flotsam’) sound like Joshua Tree era U2 (which for one man recording on 4-track is quite an achievement). ‘Hell Is In Hello’ has heavily distorted vocals over a wonderful 80’s style synth, and ‘Molly and Me’ is reminiscent of ‘Violator’ era Depeche mode. The following track ‘Jesters and Kings’ is a Big Country style epic with lyrics revolving around battles and fire.
The most heartening thing about this compilation, is that it is the tracks from the two most recent albums ‘The Julius Work Calendar’ and ‘If I Could Only Make It Through January’ which standout. ‘Perfect Parallel’ is a gentle acoustic song, which contrasts perfectly with the more abrasive and distorted ‘Brick By Brick’. The last three tracks all come from ‘If I could Only Make It Through January’ and after all the distortion, feedback and static of previous songs, finds Haswell in acoustic reflection, content to leave his vocals unadorned.
This is a terrific introduction to the music of Rhubarb, and hopefully it will lead to the success, and recognition, that he so richly deserves.