Saturday, August 27, 2011

Magnetic Fields rarities

Like many, I have been eagerly anticipating the release of Stephin Merritt: Obscurities, which came out on Merge last week. Though, probably also like many, I approach this album with mixed feelings. On one hand, I am of course excited to have a compiled and remastered selection of rarities from the Merritt vaults; at the same time, it makes all those 7"s I bought 15 years ago seem a little less precious. Or perhaps more precious as objects, but less precious for the music they contain, which is now available to all. As it should be (this blog is evidence of my feelings in that regard) - but like I said, these feelings are mixed.

Also complicating my reaction to the new compilation is the fact that it contains several old songs that have never (or hardly ever) seen the light of day - but also that there is a whole slew of obscure songs left off. A number of people have suggested that there should be a second volume released, but from the sound of this interview, that seems pretty unlikely. And so, I've put together this mix as an addendum to the Merge album. I've cheated a bit, because this contains a number of songs outside the timeframe of the Obscurities album, which only goes up to 1999. And there are still some other songs that I didn't put on - the content of all the Future Bible Heroes singles, for instance, or the dance remix of "I Thought You Were My Boyfriend," or the iTunes bonus track from Realism, or a few others. But this mix does feature all of Stephin Merritt's covers (the Numan and Bowie are particularly good), as well as many of more fabulous other tracks from compilations and smaller releases. It's a good listen!

Stephin Merritt
Obscurities (Addendum), compiled 2011

1. Stephin Merritt, "Get Carter" (0:30; Human League cover, 2000)
2. The Magnetic Fields, "I Die: You Die" (3:10; Gary Numan cover, 1997)
3. The Magnetic Fields, "'Heroes'" (5:56; David Bowie cover, 1996)
4. Stephin Merritt, "Beauty" (3:29; Tall Dwarfs cover, 1988)
5. The Magnetic Fields, "The Man Amplifier" (2:25; Young Marble Giants cover, 1995)
6. The Magnetic Fields, "Le Tourbillion" (2:17; Jeanne Moreau cover, 1999)
7. The 6ths (feat. Lloyd Cole), "Human" (3:20; Human League cover, 2000)
8. Stephin Merritt, "Not One of Us" (3:58; Peter Gabriel cover, 2010)
9. Stephin Merritt, "Dream Again" (4:11; Franz Ferdinand cover, 2011)
10. Future Bible Heroes, "Don't You Want Me" (3:50; Human League cover, 2000)
11. The Magnetic Fields, "If I Were a Rich Man" (5:08; Fiddler on the Roof cover, 1999)
12. The Magnetic Fields, "Plant White Roses (Susan Anway vocal)" (4:45; 1995)
13. The Magnetic Fields, "Crowd of Drifters (Susan Anway vocal)" (3:33; 1990)
14. The Gothic Archies, "City of the Damned (original mix)" (1:43; 1996)
15. The Gothic Archies, "The Dead Only Quickly" (1:10; 1996)
16. The Magnetic Fields, "Plant White Roses (Stephin Merritt vocal)" (4:06; 1994)
17. The Magnetic Fields, "The Nun's Litany (Stephin Merritt vocal)" (2:58; 2008)
18. Stephin Merritt, "A Man of a Million Faces" (4:18; 2008)
19. Stephin Merritt, "I'm in a Lonely Way" (2:19; 2007)
20. Stephin Merritt, "The Meaning of Lice" (3:02; 2006)
21. Future Bible Heroes, "Mr. Punch" (3:05; 2007)
22. Future Bible Heroes, "O! What a Dream It Was" (3:22; 1996)

Get it all here. Enjoy!


Harold said...

thank you! :)

Jackson Brody said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jackson said...

I'm really glad to see you posted about this, as I was eager to see your reaction. I too was a little disappointed with the scarcity of truly obscure songs - it was an enjoyable listen though. I particularly enjoyed 'The Sun and the Sea and the Sky' - how could he leave that off 69 Love Songs?! - , and the Buffalo Rome rendition of Plant White Roses. Hearing that was a little bittersweet for me, though, because from my correspondences with various owners of the tape, I'm fairly certain the entire thing will never see the light of day. Hope springs eternal, though - and I was a little encouraged to see that interview where Stephin mentioned that as many as 50 of the tapes may have been produced. (Calvin from K seemed pretty sure there were no more than 10 produced.)

I don't think Obscurities really diminishes the value of all the 7"s myself, and even if it does, I'm really glad to have a proper quality version of them as opposed to the various sub-par vinyl rips floating around.

Uh, sorry if I wrote too much, and thanks for your rarities collection! I'm pretty sure I have all of these, but it's nice to have them all compiled together.

Oh, and on the subject of rarities, I've managed to get a perfect lossless copy of Looming in the Gloom, which is a huge improvement from the previous 128 kb/s MP3's. I see no reason not to share those! You can get them at .

Anonymous said...

Greetings, I would like to get in touch with you regarding an item in your collection. I hesitate to even ask, but I have not seen this anywhere else and would like the chance to explain myself privately.

Please tell me to scram by deleting this post, or email me at if you wish. Please consider responding before you delete...I promise I will not become intrusive and will respect your privacy to the utmost. Thank you.


Michael Williamson said...

Somehow I'm only just seeing this! Nice work!

I hope with a hope stronger than hope than Mr. Merritt will continue releasing b-sides and rarities comps as the years progress. He's said that he has enough back catalogue for the band to continue years after his death, so I mean, it only seems fair!

.michael.philip.okiver.mcneill. said...

non megaup re-up please!!!!

smokeandmirrors said...

Re-up complete!


Sooooo it's been well over a year... but any chance of this getting re-upped? Thanks!

smokeandmirrors said...

Re-upped to 4shared! Let me know if you guys can't access the file and I can try another server.

Anonymous said...

Thoroughly enjoying these gems! I'm fairly new to Stephin Merritt's music. He's a gifted, intelligent songwriter and a very creative musician. A friend recently encouraged me to listen to "The Charm of the Highway Strip" and I immediately recognized "Crowd of Drifters" from "Doctor Death's Vol. IV" and also "I Have the Moon" which I knew from my love of the band Lush. I just bought "69 Love Songs" and am still absorbing it. Thank you for posting these! - dale

George Loukakis said...

Fabulous! Many thanks!!