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Busted Stuff

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Album Review

The Dave Matthews Band may not have released the Lillywhite Sessions — the semi-legendary soul-searching album recorded in 2000 but abandoned in favor of the heavy-handed, laborious Glen Ballard-produced Everyday — but they couldn't escape its shadow. Every review, every article surrounding the release of Everyday mentioned it, often claiming it was better than the released project — an opinion the band seemed to support by playing many numbers from the widely bootlegged lost album on tour in 2001. Since they couldn't run away from the Lillywhite Sessions, they decided to embrace it, albeit on their own terms. They didn't just release the album, as is. They picked nine of the best songs from the sessions, reworked some of them a bit, tinkered with the lyrics, re-recorded the tunes with a different producer (Stephen Harris, a veteran of post-Brit-pop bands like the Bluetones, plus engineer on U2's All That You Can't Leave Behind), added two new songs, and came up with Busted Stuff, a polished commercial spin on music widely considered the darkest, most revealing work Matthews has yet created. Remarkably, these songs not only retain their emotional core even after they've been cleaned up, but they perhaps even gain more resonance in this setting. After all, Steve Lillywhite is hardly Steve Albini, and while the initial versions of these songs were raw, it was as much because they were not quite finished as they were Matthews exposing his soul. Here, these songs have been completed, not just in the writing but in the arrangement and production, so they sound just as personal to Dave Matthews, but also sound like fully realized DMB songs. And while they do jam a bit — in, surprise!, a song called "Kit Kat Jam" — that's not the emphasis of their performances; in these slow, moody pieces, they provide supple support to Matthews' elliptical, winding melodies and searching lyrics. The band sounds unified, and so does the album; one of the new songs, "Where Are You Going," sounded dull on its first appearance on the Mr. Deeds soundtrack, but here, it's part of the fabric of the album, equally effective in sustaining the reflective, not depressive, tone of the album. Here, there's none of the loose-limbed, frat-boy funk from DMB's previous albums, none of the smirking jokiness that has plagued their up-tempo jams, while the heartache and yearning that once seemed affected in their ballads is palpably real. It's not so much a departure as it is an unexpected twist in their career. By leaving behind the key elements that defined their music, DMB has revealed that they can hit a deeper emotional chord and, in the process, deliver what's unquestionably the best album of their career.

Customer Reviews

One of their best.

I will never, ever as long as I live be able to figure out why this album is one of Dave Matthews Band's most unpopular. This lost then found then lost again album may have all but faded from their tour setlists but rest assured that this is one of the best the band has ever done. Here Dave's writing is morose and earnest where Everyday was jovial and almost silly at times, just watch the video for I Did It. It was appealing, but kick me if i'm the only one who was a little thrown off by it. Nevertheless I've come to terms with Everyday (especially after Stand Up came out) but I still look to Busted Stuff as unnecessary but helpful proof that Dave can still write from his soul. Grey Street is ridiculously good, I swear I must have heard it over 500 times and I still love it. You Never Know, Raven and Grace is Gone are returns to the glory days of DMB's recorded work where upbeat catchy tunes mix with somber, even harsh lyrics to create a genuine musical experience. Kit Kat Jam is a fun little diddy and features the band doing what their fans love them for... jamming, Captain is the jazziest song the band ever recorded and a welcome change of pace on the album, then the heavy stuff is hit and miss. Digging a Ditch is great if you're in a foul mood but a bit umm... settling if you're not, Big Eyed Fish is fun to sing along with but a little bit strange and Bartender, the 2nd song that makes frequent appearances at their live shows the other being Grey Street, displays more jamming but also a very well layered track with strong lyrics and a great message. Hopefully Busted Stuff starts seeing more action on a setlist near me soon.

reason for unpopularity

there's no doubt this is a great album, but I think I can answer why people think it is unpopular. Because of the bootleg Lillywhite sessions album. Most of those that got the Lillywhite sessions got a raw unpolished version of 9 of these songs, that most consider to be better than the ones on busted stuff. Besides why buy a whole album that most already have just for two songs, and some polished reworked lyrics? So for the most part this album is extremely popular, in it's Lillywhite original form. Still a great album, just like all DMB albums.

Personal Favorite

Busted Stuff is definitely my favorite [non-live] album. Grace is Gone & Grey Street both combine powerful lyrics with incredible music. Bisted Stuff is a MUST have!

Biography

Formed: 1991 in Charlottesville, VA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Formed in the early '90s by South African vocalist/guitarist Dave Matthews, the Dave Matthews Band presented a more pop-oriented version of the Grateful Dead crossed with elements of jazz, funk, and the worldbeat explorations of Paul Simon and Sting. Matthews populated the group with several Virginia-based musicians — bassist Stefan Lessard, saxophonist Leroi Moore, violinist Boyd Tinsley, drummer Carter Beauford, and short-lived keyboardist Peter Griesar — and the band built up a strong...
Full Bio