Yo La Tengo ‎– Prisoners Of Love (A Smattering Of Scintillating Senescent Songs 1985-2003)




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October 25, 2017
referencing Prisoners Of Love (A Smattering Of Scintillating Senescent Songs 1985-2003), 3xCD, Comp, OLE 645-2

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I’ve got to lay down this review for Yo La Tengo … primarily for the fact that the band has legs, they’ve got enough longevity that one must at this point in their career consider them to be elder statesmen of some sort, though I for one, know not of what. They’re like The Grateful Dead at this stage, with a hard core following who treasure every word, who delight in every show, and are enchanted at the sheer cuteness [a word that I despise, though there is no other that works here] of the husband and wife team of Kaplan and Georgia Hubley, whom actually do seem to be elementally connected on some astral plan of existence, that has kept them moving forward all of these years.

Essentially known for their repertoire of cover songs, songs which they magically immerse themselves into and deliver nearly flawlessly, and is an aspect that I for one hold dear. Yo La Tengo’s original material is certainly created with consideration, although it lacks a consistency for my ears, yet it’s that attitude of ‘pins all over the map’ being a quality that others find enchanting. That being said, YLT is and always will be renowned as a quintessential critic’s band, made up of late middle aged white men wearing Big Star tee shirts who’ve perhaps taken a plunge at marriage [mostly not], spending their weekends in dingy used record stores searching out first editions of Frank Zappa records, while living in their mother’s basement … only because their vinyl collection was warping the floors, and the concrete of the basement offered the support required, nevertheless, living ‘with’ their passion is the essence of their lives. There’s not a public or college radio station who would refuse giving YLT an interview if they knocked on the door unannounced.

An therein lies my dilemma with Yo La Tengo, I love hearing them on those interview shows, their stories are enchanting, the material that they play on these shows is designed to reach out and draw the listener in, enticing listeners like me to feel that there is something about me that just doesn’t get them for the most part, and perhaps if I purchase one more album, go to one more show, that the clouds will part, the sun will shine warmly down on me, with the alkaloids and praise bestowed on them by others will manifest itself within my soul, and I will become one of those who’s seen the light, and will spend the rest of my life bestowing their virtues and adulation.

But the thing of it is, I don’t get Yo La Tengo, I don’t find their shows to be fun, they leave me with nothing to hang onto, the music doesn’t inspire my hand to move across my collection [and no, I do not live in my mother’s basement] to select their album. I have to remind myself that it’s been a very long time since I listened to YLT, in order for me to play their music … and even then it’s not a full album, or even one of their compilations, it’s a compilation that I’ve created, one that rides well with me, and even then, if it went missing, I’m not sure that I would actually miss it.

I sometimes feel badly that over some thirty years I’ve only managed to keep twenty songs, that’s less than a song a year that work for me from this band’s career. With that in mind, if you’re like me, and you want the creme de la creme, then consider this collection of songs that span the career of Yo La Tengo: Disc 1 - “Periodically Double Or Triple,” “Can’t Forget,” “Evil That Men Do,” “Alyda,” “Did I Tell You,” “3 Blocks From Groove Street,” “Here Comes My Baby,” “Barnaby, Hardly Working,” “Tired So Hard,” “Always Something,” “All Your Secrets,” Disc 2 - “Little Honda,” “One PM Again,” “The Lie and How We Told It,” “Little Eyes,” “You Can Have It All,” “I’ll Be Around,” “Cornelia and Jane,” “The Point of It,” and “The Race Is On Again.”

I’ve spent time considering these songs and their placement within this compilation, one that will allow the music to ebb and flow with grace and a sense of well being, without all of the songs that just manage not to sit right in my head. With that I’ll say, ”Go have fun, and before you leave, will you toss me my Big Star tee shirt.”

*** The Fun Facts: Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley formed the band as a husband/wife duo in 1984. They chose the name "Yo La Tengo" (Spanish for "I have it"; or referring to a female-gender object or person, also "I've Got Her") in an effort to avoid any connotations in English. Though the name came from a baseball anecdote - referencing the story about the 1962 US Major League Baseball expansion team, the New York Mets. Normally when two players chase the same batted fly ball, one yells "I've Got It" and the other then retreats to avoid a collision. But infielder Elio Chacón didn't understand the English term, he and outfielder Richie Ashburn collided a few times while chasing fly balls. Another teammate suggested that Ashburn yell the words in Spanish instead so Chacón would understand. The Spanish for "I've Got It" is "Yo La Tengo." After that Ashburn and Chacón no longer ran into each other. But another teammate, Frank Thomas, didn't understand the Spanish term. So one day while chasing a fly ball, despite hearing Ashburn call out "Yo La Tengo", Howard ran into Ashburn.

Review by Jenell Kesler