Back in October, I Monster suddenly dropped two albums on us, both companions to 2003’s Neveroddoreven: Rare, a collection of all the b-sides, hidden tracks, and oddities from the era, and Remixed, an anthology of all the remixes from the album.
Neveroddoreven was, for the uninitiated, the second of three (to date) I Monster albums. These Are Our Children was released for free in 1999, and included the original version of Daydream in Blue, which was a huge hit a couple of years later. Then Neveroddoreven followed, initially in 2003 (with the skull sleeve), and then “remodelled” in 2004 (with the flies in suits). A number of odd EPs and singles followed, with their third album A Dense Swarm of Ancient Stars following in 2009.
With a fairly illustrious history, they have always had plenty of places to hide b-sides and oddities, but also both versions of the second album included different tracks, a variety of which were secretly hidden. So it is that rich seam which has been mined to build this compilation.
Rare kicks off with the 8-bit tones of the “gang” version of a track called Freak featuring, of all people, Betty Boo. I’ll be honest, I don’t know a lot about Ms. Boo, but there is something about the track which does sound something like what I’d expect from her.
Electricalove is a compilation track from 2003, with some slight echoes of album track Heaven. This is I Monster at their finest, as is the third track Cells, which originally appeared towards the end of Neveroddoreven, and then on the reissued version was ingeniously secreted before the start of track one. For me, this is an essential album track, although it’s maybe a little more laid back than most of the material which made it onto the full studio album.
Next up is the original 2001 b-side to Daydream in Blue, the quite wonderful Resistance is Futile. With its brilliant synth riff and slightly dirty rhythm, this is still essential I Monster, as with all three of the tracks before it. The 2004 single Hey Mrs. included another excellent b-side called The Great Soul Destroyer, which follows.
Next up is the secret introduction to the original release of Neveroddoreven, a pretty little track called Dinner Jazz, which leads into the dirty rock of Lucifer You Are a Devil, which used to hide at the end of the original album. Then comes compilation track Kneel Before the Gods of Rock and Roll. If I wanted to be cruel, I’d suggest that these last few are the low point of the album, but by I Monster standards, that’s still pretty special.
I Spider is a rather wonderful little song, although I’m not sure where (even whether) it was released previously. I’m a Cowboy and Machines are equally great, and seem to have been internet-only bonus tracks for the reissued version of the studio album. The latter is a cover of a track written by US singer-songwriter Mort Schuman. Finally, the album closes with Big End from the original version of Neveroddoreven, and by this point you should really have a pretty good idea of how amazing I Monster are.
Put Rare and Remixed together with the original studio album, and you have every track I Monster released between 2001 and 2004. Well, almost. There were a couple of bonus tracks on the single for French Mods Can’t Drink. Then you’ll be missing the edited Glamour Puss mix from the single version of Hey Mrs., a little track from the original version of the album called I Missed You So., and the “French Friendly” version of Daydream in Blue. But apart from those minor omissions, it’s a pretty complete set.
Altogether, Rare and Remixed (which we’ll review separately another time) are both brilliant companions to the studio album Neveroddoreven, and highly recommended. Rare, though, is particularly special in that it stands alone as an album of its own.
You can purchase Rare from iTunes here.