CONSUMER ALERT: This vastly expanded, packed-to-the-gills 20th anniversary reissue of The Breeders’ Last Splash album contains exactly the same version of Last Splash that can currently be found crowding 99-cent CD bins all over the world.
No remix. No remaster. No “this is what it was supposed to sound like the first time around” folderol. Nope. Just the same Last Splash we’ve all been gleefully listening to for the past 20 years—the same fidelity, the same order, the same album. While this may strike some as a chintzy or fan-unfriendly move on behalf of the label and the band, it strikes me as the most respectful thing any artist or label has done when celebrating a random birthday of an iconic piece of work. Instead of insisting that a beloved and lived-with album needs to be replaced every so often—like a set of tires or a pair of socks—4AD and the Deal sisters are saying the album you’ve always loved is just fine as is. (And do we really need to talk about what a marvelous album Last Splash is? How it perfectly encapsulates all that was great and wonderful about the early ‘90s alt-rock boom? How it managed to be fun and loose and polished and whimsical and smart and tough and perfect all at the same time? We don’t need to do that, do we?)
But—and this is a big “but”—if you’re in the mood to celebrate an anniversary, LSXX still gives ample reason to celebrate. Much in the same way that Matador’s world-beating reissues of Pavement’s catalog did a fantastic job of rounding up every. single. piece. of. music. the band made during that album’s “cycle,” so too does LSXX bring together everything that surrounded the surprising (and deserved!) success of Last Splash.
If this new edition only included the four tracks from the Head to Toe 10-inch—a raw, J Mascis-recorded EP that delivered covers of Sebadoh and Guided By Voices alongside one new track and a stripped-down take on “Saints”—and the post-Pod, pre-Splash Safari EP, it would be well worth the extravagant packaging and price tag. Those two EPs work as perfect bookmarks for the Last Splash era, as the latter was the preparatory segue from Pod and the former was a signifier for what the band would do in future, but they also happen to contain some of the Breeders’ best music. Those EPs, however, are just the beginning; also included are the full EPs released for the “Cannonball” and “Divine Hammer” singles (each with three non-LP tracks, including a stunning cover of Aerosmith’s “Lord of the Thighs” ... that the Breeders have yet to do a straight covers album is a real shame), the 16-track Stockholm Syndrome “official live bootleg,” a four-track BBC session and a clutch of demos from the Last Splash sessions that are raw and invigorating. That’s 44 “bonus” tracks, a good third of which could probably be compiled into a Breeders album at least as good as Title TK. So no, you don’t get a remastered version of one of your favorite albums. But you definitely do get your money’s worth.