Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Best of the Dimestore Haloes!

Here's a real mind-blower: the Dimestore Haloes' first album Thrill City Crime Control is now as old as the debut LPs by the Clash and Sex Pistols were the year Thrill City came out. Even the final Haloes recordings pre-dated YouTube, Coke Zero, selfies, and the entire Real Housewives franchise. Ladies and gentlemen, the Haloes are officially classic rock! And given that all of the original records are way, way out of print, this seems like the perfect time for a Haloes best-of compilation to come into existence. Its arrival is great news for longtime fans who no longer own all of the old records as well as those who have more recently discovered the Haloes by way of Charles and Kevin's current band The Cheap Cassettes. And while the Haloes' entire recorded has been available digitally for a couple of years, Crash & Burn or Fly is the band's first retrospective to be released in a tangible format. Thanks to state of the art 1990s technology, you can now get your mitts on a compact disc containing 15 of the Haloes' finest studio cuts covering the years 1997 to 2004!

I appreciate that the contents of Crash & Burn or Fly were determined not by a corporate suit or focus group but rather by Charles Matthews himself. I must admit I was going to throw a royal tantrum if "Death Is a Star" had not been included on this disc. But otherwise, I vowed not to complain in any way about the track selection. With these best-of collections, there's always the question of who should get to decide which songs were really the "best". Well, I think the guy who wrote all of the songs is probably as qualified as anyone! And there's no denying that this compilation is a very good representation of who the Dimestore Haloes were and why they were my favorite band of my illustrious youth. Each of the band's first three albums is represented with three tracks, with an additional four songs taken from 2004's Ghosts of Saturday Night and another two culled from compilations. The comp cuts ("Saturday's Heroes" and "Crazy") bookend the collection, but otherwise it flows chronologically. You get to hear the band's evolution from its raw, rootsy origins to the glammy punk rock n' roll of its glory years to those later, more pop-influenced songs that laid the path for The Cheap Cassettes. And while I tend to romanticize Thrill City above all of the band's other full-lengths, my time spent with this comp has led me to concede that the Haloes got progressively better with each album they released.

Priced at just $8, Crash & Burn or Fly is a swell deal for anyone who desires a hard copy of the Dimestore Haloes' music. Considering that all of these recordings were originally released in small runs on DIY labels, it's tremendously encouraging that so many people still fondly remember them. And while I cringe at the pomposity of the prose I used to concoct in acclaim of the Haloes, the sentiment behind it has not changed. I still love this music, and I think it stands up quite well to the test of time. With a Beat Angels best-of still available on Onus Records, a movement to preserve '90s glam-punk seems to be taking shape. Let's hope the Trash Brats are up next!


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