Only Follow These Hands – Throwing Muses compilation review

For such a seminal band, Throwing Muses don’t seem to have the sort of legacy that you might imagine they should have. Maybe that’s because there were never hit singles, maybe because there’s probably no consensus on what’s their best album.

So in that regard the 2CD collection ‘Anthology’ is a timely reminder of how potent the Muses are, ahead of their self released 9th LP next year.

Without any obvious touchstones, the contents of such a compilation are always going to be subjective. But I reckon that the compilers (principally the band, although apparently Kristin’s own involvement in the track selection was a little unorthodox) have done a pretty decent job.

Inevitably there are personal favourites omitted but, equally, some I might not have expected to have made the cut (like ‘Marriage Tree’ from ‘House Tornado’) have done so.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is the prominence given to EP tracks with no fewer than 3 songs from ‘The Fat Skier’ and two from ‘Chains Changed’ included. Indeed I can think of no better way for a Muses collection to start than with the brilliant ‘Garoux Des Larmes’, the lead track from the former, which also happened to be the first Muses track I ever heard.

Broadly speaking the LP is split into two halves, the earlier tracks up front and later, slightly more ‘normal’, tracks next with a short coda of a mixture of tracks. It might have been interesting to hear the record jump between the different eras in the band’s history but the overall impression is of a record that does full justice to the band’s greatness.

The second CD does a good job of collecting the band’s rarities including all the B-sides and non-LP tracks which were never included on Muses LPs.

Listening to this disc as whole, what’s surprising is how strong it actually is, in part due to the fact that the band tended to release singles which were genuine EPs. There’s also a slightly bizarre range of covers included, everything from Hendrix to ‘Amazing Grace’ with detours through Volcano Suns on the way.

Personally, owning the UK versions of the EPs, there’s not much in the way of new material on here and the omission of ‘Santa Claus’ (presumably on the basis that it was tacked onto the end of the ‘Hunkpapa’ CD) is a little puzzling in terms of giving the full picture of the flips.

There’s also a larger overlap with the main CD than would seem desirable as the LP versions of two songs from ‘Limbo’ (the amazing ‘Tar Kissers’ and ‘Limbo’) are included in the main set whilst their alternative B-side versions (from the ‘Shark’ single) are also included on CD2.

But these are minor gripes, not least because the whole package is beautiful with a series of essays by Kristin on the key people in the Muses history.

The trouble is, the shelf life of the package already seems over with physical copies becoming increasingly hard to get a hold of. I’d assumed that there was going to be a single disc ‘vanilla’ version of the collection for the casual fan (to bolster the legacy that I was talking about) but that seems not to be the case (although the full package is still available to download.)

So it’s a collection that already seems to be slipping towards rarity status just two weeks after release but the good news is that you can still get it from Kristin’s own on-line store. Buy it here.

Then drool at the prospect of the 38 track new Muses LP which will hopefully be released next year.

From the fabulous SNUB TV, a slightly truncated version of ‘Mania’ from the legendary 1988 show at the Town and Country Club show in London: