Major labels usually release lousy compilations album. Either they string together reject tracks by famous names or they bombard listeners with boring dreck from unknown copycat bands. Leave it to the tiny New Jersey label Bar/None Records to put the big guys to shame.
Perhaps because Bar/None boss Glenn Morrow leads his own band—the little-known but accomplished Rage to Live—he has a great ear for new music. Morrow, who had the foresight to sign the inventive New York City pop duo They Might Be Giants when other labels didn’t dare, filled this 22-song CD or cassette with intelligent, witty and tuneful pop songs.
Some entries, by Bar/None artists and by unsigned acts Morrow admires, qualify as underground classics. In “Trains,” Irish folk rocker Luka Bloom hoots like a steam engine, laughs like a madman, spits out the lyrics and strums acoustic guitar with the ferocity of a speeding locomotive. Backed by a yowling electric zither, Brian Dewan delivers “99 Cops,” a nightmarish fantasy that puts the screws to the “99 Bottles of Beer” theme.
A few contributors, including the art-rock band Glass Eye, Irish joke folker Bill Drummond and Morrow’s combo, sound better here than they do on solo albums. In showcasing a jumble of new voices, Time for a Change proves there’s lots of unknown talent around, and at least one small record company with the skill to find it. (Bar/None)