Liner Note Author: Patterson Hood.
If Uncle Tupelo were the Minutemen of the alt-country explosion of the '80s and '90s, then Slobberbone were the Replacements. Uncle Tupelo were tight, wildly energetic, and overflowing with both ideas and principle. But Slobberbone were sloppy in the best kind of way, charging forward with beer-sodden passion that obscured the fact they could effectively kick out the jams. Slobberbone were not afraid to wear their hearts on their sleeves, bellowing out tales of regular-guy lives that were often funny but also potently insightful. While they weren't taken as seriously as some bands on the scene, they played and sang with a commitment that suggested their lives depended on this music. And like the 'Mats, Slobberbone were in the right place at the wrong time. In a very real way, Slobberbone paved the way for the Drive-By Truckers, Lucero, and Two Cow Garage, but without enjoying the same recognition by being a few years early. In their original lifetime, Slobberbone cut two good albums (Crow Pot Pie and Slippage) and two great ones (Barrel Chested and Everything You Thought Was Right Was Wrong Today). Bees and Seas: The Best of Slobberbone is a well-curated compilation that skims the cream from those four releases, and beautifully celebrates their greasy glories. These 18 songs demonstrate the consistent strength and shaggy-dog vision of Brent Best's songwriting, confirming he was as good a storyteller as anyone on the scene. And on the best tracks, Best and his bandmates (Jess Barr, Brian Lane, and Tony Harper) explode like soggy firecrackers, giving the music messy but furious life. While Slobberbone have reunited for live dates, they have yet to return to the recording studio. Bees and Seas suggests they would have good cause to be intimidated by the strength of their legacy. But after hearing this, old fans and first-time samplers alike will probably think the same thing: the world needs more rock from a band like this. Until that day comes, Bees and Seas is a superb summary of Slobberbone's brief but rich recording career. (The collection also includes a loving liner-note tribute to the group from Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers.) ~ Mark Deming