The Brit Box: UK Indie, Shoegaze, and Brit-Pop Gems of the Last Millennium
A 4-CD, 78-track Way Back Machine
Reviewed by Dan Oko, Fri., Dec. 7, 2007
The Brit Box: UK Indie, Shoegaze, and Brit-Pop Gems of the Last Millennium(Rhino)
Every generation deserves its own British Invasion. For the one whose New Wave was repurposed by John Hughes for the Pretty in Pink soundtrack, Rhino has gone the extra mile by digging up not only yesteryear's groundbreakers but also their one-hit clones. The result is the post-punk Brit Box, a 4-CD, 78-track Way Back Machine that seems intended as a trans-Atlantic equalizer for the lost souls who mistakenly believe that the pop music legacy of the last millennium remains some strange amalgam of grunge and hip-hop. In turn, the best evidence for the importance of UK guitar bands from the last century is disc one: the Smiths, the Cure, Echo & the Bunnymen, the Stone Roses, and Happy Mondays remain unmatched. As the remaining CDs make explicit, however, the mastermind behind this set wasn't interested in simply revisiting the baggy-pants best of Madchester. The good news is that a generous handful of download-worthy hits arrive like clockwork, such as My Bloody Valentine rocking "Only Shallow," James crowing about his ex-old lady on "Laid" (sing along: "But she only comes when she's on top"), and the wonderful postcolonial trip-hop "Brimful of Asha" from Cornershop. There's something weak about limiting bands to one track apiece or reissuing songs that already appeared on Rhino's earlier Nineties box, Whatever, and there's no excuse for dedicating so much bandwidth to generic copycats, while ignoring more bands that truthfully remind us of sing-shouting, "Don't you forget about me!"