Off Key with Eric D.: The Dandy Warhols

Eric D'Orazio

Well, it’s that time of year again: time to trade in those drunken and debaucherous days of summer for the drunken and debaucherous days of college. Gone are the moments of drowning the sorrows of summer work with a good pint, only to be replaced by great times filled with keg stands, power hours and occasionally, dormwork. Yet, what would the move back to college be without everyone’s favorite college rock band, The Dandy Warhols?

Celebrating their tenth anniversary this year, the Dandys have cooked up a real treat for their fans and newcomers alike. What is it, you may ask? A greatest hits? No, that would be too cliché for them. A movie chronicling their career? Well, yes, but not just that. Ladies and gentlemen, in memory of their ten years on top of, well, something, The Dandy Warhols have released 10 “new” albums for immediate public consumption. Respectively entitled “The Black Album” and “Come On Feel The Dandy Warhols,” these torrential twins are sure to get the fall semester of Villanova off to an awesome start.

Now, you may be wondering why I noted the Dandys’ double-disc as being “new” as opposed to new. Well the fact is that they’re simply previously recorded materials. But in the case of “The Black Album,” previously recorded doesn’t mean previously released. You see, way back in 1996, there was much change taking place in the Dandy community. After all, the band just received their record deal with Capitol, and in turn was setting out to record their major label debut. The problem was that, on the heels of the previous year’s successful “Dandys Rule, OK?” (or “The White Album,” as suggested by its cover), the band simply did not know the direction in which they would take their sophomore effort. So, based on a small number of ideas and a large number of drugs, they rapidly recorded their second record. Emerging as a dark, 11 song substance-fest, their label quickly rejected it and asked them to start again. Based loosely on the work they had done, the Dandys did just that, and eventually made their international debut with 1997’s aptly titled “… The Dandy Warhols Come Down.”

Even though the Dandys found success with “Come Down,” fans could only wonder what happened to the earlier version of their second album, commonly referred to as “The Black Album” due to its bleak nature and pearly predecessor. Well, at long last, they may wonder no longer. After eight years of relative anonymity, the album is out and sounding fresher than the rhymes of Jay-Z, who strangely enough has his own “Black Album.” But with this effort, you won’t find “99 problems,” but an assortment of grandiose and quirky tracks that are in true form to the Dandys’ signature sound. Based in such undeniably delectable pieces as “Crack Cocaine Rager” and “White Gold,” the record’s doped-out side shines through. Yet early versions of seminal “Come Down” classics like “Good Morning” and “Boys” (later titled “Boys Better”) keep the album from getting too high. To top it all off, “The Black Album” concludes in true Dandys fashion: with a super-long song. This time around it comes in the form of “The Wreck,” a mellow, nine-minute synth and guitar driven cover of Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald,” as only The Dandy Warhols can do it.

On the flipside of the Dandys’ tenth anniversary extravaganza comes the not-so-long-awaited, but never underappreciated “Come On Feel The Dandy Warhols.” Being the band’s one and only b-sides collection, it showcases 18 fine tracks that were distinguished enough to be recorded, but not so lucky as to make it on an album. But no matter, this is their album, and it rocks among the best. Starting off with a basement recorded version of the uber-hit “Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth,” the compilation sways between non-LP gems like “Retarded” and “Head” whilst paying respect to covers like AC/DC’s “Hells Bells” and Blondie’s “Call Me.” To further its potency, the record features the rare, 1994 demo version of “Dick,” as well as a 1995 acoustic cover of the aforementioned “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” It’s not nine minutes long, but it’s still pretty Dandy.

The only real problem that comes to mind when looking into “Come On Feel The Dandy Warhols” is the relative ease at which one may obtain its tracks. Aside from about five songs, a good Dandys fan can track down the entirety of the compilation in a relatively short period of time, depending on their accessibility to import singles and eBay. But then again, that brings about the thought of those unfortunate souls who have heard little or nothing of The Dandy Warhols. And to them, this album, in addition to “The Black Album,” is a literal godsend. So, in celebration of the Dandys’ tenth birthday, as well as another year at ‘Nova, crank open a cold one and fire up some of the finest music on the market today. The debauchery is just beginning.