Reviewed by Michael Chamy, Fri., Aug. 15, 2003
StereolabABC Music: Radio 1 Sessions (Koch) In the world of best-of regurgitations and bonus reissues, there's so much redundancy out there it's enough to make you see double. ABC Music is the rare compilation that provides more than one unique function. Compiling all of the band's BBC appearances between 1991 and 2001, this 2-CD collection stands as both Stereolab's first true live album and their first true best-of. For a group renowned for their complex pop experimentation and deep record collection, Stereolab was always a helluva live band. They may have started as Neu! hacks, but it's doubtful the original Krautrockers could've carried the 'Lab's Farfisa in the live arena. ABC Music showcases all the band's early highlights -- stunning hybrids of mad, undulating vocal swaps and relentless analog groove mechanics. Material from their greatest album, Transient-Random Noise Bursts With Announcements, is sadly missing, and with it a couple of their finest anthems. Then again, many of the groop's choice nuggets were the singles cataloged in their Switched On series. Those are well accounted for, including the utter perfection of "French Disko" and the instant classic "Lo Boob Oscillator," featuring the most memorable interplay between Laetitia Sadier and the late Mary Hansen. ABC Music's second disc represents the group's mid-Nineties pop Picasso stage, where lounge, swing, and funk crept into their perpetual socialist sloganeering exercises. It didn't produce as many bombshells as the band's earlier phase, but when the 'Lab was on, they were on, and nobody could switch them off.