Camper Van Beethoven
Picks & Sleepers
Reviewed by Ken Lieck, Fri., Dec. 6, 2002
Camper Van BeethovenCigarettes & Carrot Juice: The Santa Cruz Years (Pitch-a-Tent) When you look in the dictionary under "alternative rock," there should be a picture of Camper Van Beethoven. They fit the definition of undefinable so perfectly it's uncanny, what with their use of Eastern European ethnic rhythms, classic punk rock covers, and on-our-sleeves eclecticism. Long before they released a cover version of the entire Fleetwood Mac double album Tusk, the Santa Cruz, Calif., combo had already established itself as the real deal as far as "indie" rock goes. It's only to be expected, then, that when they moved up to a major label, they would have lost a certain magical something. Luckily, there's Cigarettes & Carrot Juice, a handy, 5-CD set that contains most everything the band did before they were poisoned by the big time. Their whimsically fresh debut, Telephone Free Landslide Victory, appears here alongside follow-ups II & III and Camper Van Beethoven. Filling out the package is a rarities disc from the period Camper Vantiquities and a live disc with the somewhat misinforming title Greatest Hits Played Faster (it doesn't contain, for instance, their radio fave "Pictures of Matchstick Men"). So now you can pack a five-disc changer with nothing but pure Camper and dance the night away. The best part of the deal is that this is a nice, simple, and best of all, cheap box, retailing at a price comparable with two standard CDs rather than five. That should make up for the slim envelopes that house each album and the limited number of documentary write-ups. The music, after all, is what matters here.