Absolute Garbage

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Absolute Garbage
Against a metallic gray background lies in red letters the title "Absolute Garbage".
Greatest hits album by Garbage
Released July 23, 2007 (2007-07-23)
Recorded 1994–2007
Madison, Wisconsin
(Except "The World Is Not Enough": London & Vancouver, BC
and "Tell Me Where It Hurts":
Los Angeles & Silverlake, California
Genre Alternative rock, electronica, grunge[1]
Length 72:43
Label A&E Records
Almo/Geffen/UMe (North America)
Producer Garbage
(Except "The World Is Not Enough": Garbage and David Arnold)
Garbage chronology
Bleed Like Me
(2005)
Absolute Garbage
(2007)
Not Your Kind of People
(2012)
Alternative covers
Against a metallic black background, lit by only three beams of light, lies in red letters the title "Absolute Garbage".
Special edition cover
Against a metallic, black, badly lit background lies in red letters the title "Absolute Garbage".
DVD edition cover
Singles from Absolute Garbage
  1. "Tell Me Where It Hurts"
    Released: July 16, 2007

Absolute Garbage is the 2007 greatest hits album released by alternative rock group Garbage. The album was compiled and released by Geffen imprint Almo Sounds through Universal Music Enterprises back catalogue division in North America and Warner Music's record label A&E Records throughout the rest of the world. It was released while Garbage were on "hiatus" following the band's one-off reformation to perform at a benefit concert early in the same year.[2]

The album includes remastered versions of sixteen of the band's singles which run chronologically in the track listing, plus a brand new track, specially recorded for the compilation, "Tell Me Where It Hurts", which preceded the album at radio across the world, with a commercial single release in the United Kingdom.[3] Absolute Garbage was released on CD and a special edition Double-CD package which included a second disc of remixes. A DVD compilation rounded out the formats; among the sixteen Garbage music videos featured is an hour-long documentary film titled Thanks For Your, Uhhh Support, incorporating footage filmed backstage and behind the scenes, archive live performances, and interviews spanning the band's entire career.[4]

In 2012, Absolute Garbage was superseded by a reconfigured greatest hits set titled The Absolute Collection, which was released by the band via their own imprint in Australia and New Zealand.[5]

Compiling Absolute Garbage[edit]

The band's drummer, Butch Vig felt that Absolute Garbage would be "a full stop on part of our career",[6] marking the group's movement to a new part of their development, rather than simply a contractual obligation,[6] while guitarist Duke Erikson stated that "putting out a collection of our singles would be a good way to stay busy without working so hard".[6] However, singer Shirley Manson revealed in 2012 that the compilation emerged from a demand by the band's UK label A&E Records in order to meet their quarterly requirements.[7]

When Garbage began to collate the material for Absolute Garbage, it transpired that the analog masters of their debut album had been lost. Neither of the band's record labels had them, and after further searching, the band established that none of the mastering facilities they had used had stored them either. Vig and audio engineer Billy Bush were able to track down an archived, but rather incomplete and damaged, set of 16bit 44.1kHz safety DAT mixes. Despite the backups being far from an optimal situation, mastering engineer Emily Lazar at The Lodge in New York City was able to reverse engineer the missing songs from the damaged archive.[8] Lazar used some alternate versions of the songs when completing the final master.[8] Her assistant, Joe LaPorta, mastered and edited the remixes for the special edition.[9]

Eschewing the Midwestern location of their Wisconsin-based Smart Studios, Garbage chose to record new material for the album in GrungeIsDead, Vig's California-located home recording studio.[10] The band members had been sharing ideas over the internet prior to the sessions, and were keen to record them;[11] vocalist Shirley Manson had came up with the song title "Tell Me Where it Hurts" a few years previously,[12] and had matched newly written lyrics with a Burt Bacharach-style string arrangement that the band had created via email correspondence.[13] After producing an electric guitar heavy version of "Tell Me Where It Hurts", Garbage recorded a second mix of the track with more emphasis on the strings[14] and recruited their former touring bassist, Daniel Shulman, to perform bass guitar on the song.[9] The band completed another three songs during the sessions, including "Betcha" (Vig: "it's fuzzed up"[6]), "Girls Talk Shit" ("pretty cool sounding, lots of fast pizzicato guitars and cellos"[15]), and "All the Good In This Life", which Vig described as "kinda Pink Floyd-y".[6]

Vig had created a new version of their song "Bad Boyfriend", which had opened their Bleed Like Me album, when he had been updating his home studio the previous year.[16] Keeping to the Garbage formula of incorporating non-musical sounds in their work, Vig used a digital recorder to capture the sound of his baby daughter's swing in motion as a percussive loop.[17] Thinking that the compilation would benefit from the inclusion of a new remix, Vig presented his rework to Manson and Erikson who had been unaware of the new version. Both agreed that "Bad Boyfriend" should be included, but rather than solicit an outside producer, Vig spent a few days finishing the mix.[10] Inversely, Garbage recruited production team Jeremy Wheatley and Brio Tellefario to create a new version of Bleed Like Me track "It's All Over But the Crying"; the band hoped the song would be a possible second single.[12] A rock version of Version 2.0's "Push It" was completed by producer Chris Sheldon.[18]

The group argued over the albums running order, eventually dropping a few of their singles, including "Androgyny" (from Beautiful Garbage) after Manson objected to its inclusion, before finalizing on the eighteen tracks that the group believed represented their best work.[19] Vig oversaw the liner notes and thanks list for the album: "It's been a burden because we're encompassing what we've done over the last 10 years in one short paragraph;"[16] music journalist Peter Murphy composed a biography on the band's history for the booklet, while the album artwork was designed by Tom Hingston Studio - a foil blocked silkscreen image photographed by David Hughes. The booklet also compiled a number of promotional photographs of the group taken over the course of their career by Stéphane Sednaoui, Ellen von Unwerth, Rankin, Pat Pope, Warwick Saint and Joseph Cultice.[9]

The band compiled an hour-long documentary titled "Thanks For Your Uhh, Support" for the DVD format, featuring footage filmed backstage and behind-the-scenes, and archive live performances and interviews spanning the band's entire career.[4] As well as interviews with the members of Garbage, the documentary also features Duke Erikson's daughter Roxy, Madison club owner and friend Jay Moran, engineer Billy Bush, former touring bassists Daniel Shulman and Eric Avery, Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins, White Stripes' Jack White and former MTV News anchor Kurt Loder.[20] Region 0 pressings of the DVD contained all sixteen music videos to accompany the singles featured on the CD formats,[4] with the exception of "#1 Crush", for which there was no clip filmed.[21] Region 1 releases did not include the video for "Tell Me Where It Hurts".[4]

Garbage later claimed that the album was released as a contractual obligation to Warner Music: "This was the final straw that broke our backs," recalled Manson five years later. "The record company we had been sold to in the U.K. demanded that we release a "greatest hits" in order to meet their quarterly requirements. We were not in a position to stop it. As a result, they shoved this collection out with no promotion whatsoever. It was right there and then that we realized how crazy and out of whack things had gotten."[7] Garbage remained on hiatus for a further three years until regrouping to record their fifth studio album, Not Your Kind of People which was released in 2012.[22]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Garbage, except where noted. 

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Vow" (from Garbage)   4:32
2. "Queer" (from Garbage)   4:37
3. "Only Happy When It Rains" (from Garbage)   3:47
4. "Stupid Girl" (from Garbage) Garbage, Headon, Strummer, Jones, Simonon 4:18
5. "Milk" (from Garbage)   3:50
6. "#1 Crush" (from the Romeo + Juliet soundtrack)   4:45
7. "Push It" (from Version 2.0) Garbage (Interpolations: Wilson and Christian; Azor) 4:03
8. "I Think I'm Paranoid" (from Version 2.0)   3:39
9. "Special" (from Version 2.0)   3:47
10. "When I Grow Up" (from Version 2.0)   3:24
11. "You Look So Fine" (from Version 2.0)   5:22
12. "The World Is Not Enough" (from the The World Is Not Enough soundtrack) Arnold, Black 3:58
13. "Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!)" (from Beautiful Garbage)   3:13
14. "Shut Your Mouth" (from Beautiful Garbage)   3:27
15. "Why Do You Love Me" (from Bleed Like Me)   3:53
16. "Bleed Like Me" (from Bleed Like Me)   4:01
17. "Tell Me Where It Hurts" (new track)   4:10
18. "It's All Over but the Crying" (from Bleed Like Me)   3:49

Album promotion[edit]

At the end of 2005's Bleed Like Me tour, Garbage disbanded to go on a "hiatus".[23] A month later, music retailer HMV's UK website listed a Greatest Hits compilation for release the following year.[24] By January 2006, the title changed to Absolute Garbage.[25] On November 10, a press release from Warner Music Group announced a March 19, 2007 UK release date for the album,[26] while NME reported that the album would be preempted by a single on March 5.[27] At the start of 2007, Butch Vig became the first band member to publicly confirm the project: "We've been working on Absolute Garbage for a while".[28] On May 11, the band's website posted artwork for Absolute Garbage[29] and on May 22, confirmed the album's tracklist, physical formats and an initial July 16/17 street date.[30] The date was later moved back a week due to "production issues" concerning the North American DVD.[31]

The launch of the Absolute Garbage promotional campaign began at the end of May 2007, when Geffen Records updated Garbage's MySpace profile streaming audio player to include "Tell Me Where It Hurts" and the remix of "Bad Boyfriend,"[32] while the music video for "Tell Me Where It Hurts" was premiered on UK Channel 4's Video Exclusive slot.[33] Radio edits of the 'Guitars Up' and 'Orchestral' versions of "Tell Me Where It Hurts" were distributed to radio at the beginning of June. In the United Kingdom, the song was playlisted by XFM Scotland Upfront,[34] Radio Forth[34] and was C-Listed on BBC Radio 2 for five weeks.[35] The alternative rock remix of "Push It" was playlisted by XFM for three weeks.[18] "Tell Me Where It Hurts" was released by A&E Records on 7" vinyl, DVD and CD single (featuring "Betcha" as the b-side) on July 16, where it debuted at #50 on the UK Singles Chart.[36] Manson complained that the release was "shoved out with no promotion whatsoever", declaring that it was the moment the band "realized how crazy and out of whack things had gotten", inspiring them to work independently afterwards.[7]

On July 23, Absolute Garbage was released in the United Kingdom, with the North American street date following a day later.[31] The digital download format featured "All The Good In This Life" as an iTunes exclusive bonus track.[37] After appearing in the midweek flashes at #4,[38] Absolute Garbage debuted as the highest new entry at #11 on the UK Albums Chart,[39] selling 13,372 units.[38] In the United States, Absolute Garbage sold 11,000 copies to debut at #68 on the Billboard 200[40] and at #5 on Top Music Videos.[41] Absolute Garbage also registered at #9 on the Top Internet Albums.[42] The following week it dropped to #156 on the main album chart.[43] In Australia, Absolute Garbage debuted at #23 on the ARIA Charts,[44] before moving up to #18 the following week.[45] The album remained on the charts for eight weeks, bowing at #94 at the end of September.[46]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 69/100[47]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[48]
DigitalSpy 4/5 stars[49]
Mojo 3/5 stars[50]
musicOMH 4/5 stars[51]
PopMatters 9/10 stars[52]
Q 3/5 stars[53]
Slant 4/5 stars[54]
Spin (8/10)[55]
Stylus Magazine B[56]
Uncut 3/5 stars[57]

Absolute Garbage received a mostly positive response from music critics upon release.[47] Slant magazine's Sal Cinqumani gave a positive overview of the compilation, writing that the album "serves as an anthropological study of the musical relics of a bygone era,"[54] while Laila Hassani of Heat summed up her 5-star review by writing, "Few modern female-fronted rock bands stand the test of time, but this reminds you why, along with Gwen Stefani's No Doubt, Garbage are one of them."[58] A reviewer for Instinct wrote "this hits collection is loaded with songs best described as massive... you'll find something to love here".[59] Jaime Gill, in a review for the BBC, felt that "Absolute Garbage is a fine legacy, the sound of a briefly brilliant and always interesting band"[60] and that overall the album "sounds like no other greatest hits you own."[60] DigitalSpy's Nick Levine wrote, "Garbage managed to make pop music for people who thought they didn’t like pop music. For that reason, whatever happens next, they deserve to be remembered fondly."[49] A reviewer for the Daily Mail wrote, "a slick blend of grunge rock power and sultry girl-group harmonies" and added, "[Absolute Garbage] already sounds dated, but the songs stand up well."[61]

Many reviewers felt that the chronological running order put more emphasis on the band's well regarded earlier periods: "The selection of songs perhaps indicates Garbage view their career the same way many fans do,"[62] wrote Victoria Durham of Rock Sound, "that they never quite managed [to match] the brilliance of their early work."[62] Johnny Dee of Classic Rock explained, "The later material here sounds formulaic, however, new song "Tell Me Where It Hurts" adds strings to the dynamic and sits well alongside their peerless early material".[63] Allmusic reviewer Stephen Thomas Erlewine considered that despite ignoring 2000s (decade) singles such as "Run Baby Run", "it already seems that the comp has lingered far longer than necessary on the last stage of Garbage's career"[48] in contrast to the debut album singles "still sounding sleek and alluring."[48] Kerrang! magazine's Tom Byrant gave the album two out of five stars and also felt that Garbage's work had dated, expanding "something that was once so much a part of the zeitgeist has remained rooted to the era it marked, untranslatable across the millennial divide".[64] Billboard writer Kerri Mason praised the choice of remixes on the special edition: "the band continually brought the best of dance's best producers, not one of the thirteen tracks is a throwaway."[65]

Release history[edit]

Date Territory Label Format(s)
July 23, 2007 United Kingdom A & E Records CD (standard edition), DCD (special edition), DVD,
Digital download (released on iTunes with a bonus track)
Taiwan Warner Bros. Records DCD (special edition)
July 24, 2007 United States UMe/Geffen Records/Almo Sounds CD (standard edition), DCD (special edition), DVD
July 27, 2007 South Africa Warner Bros. Records CD (standard edition)
Europe CD (standard edition), DCD (special edition), DVD
July 31, 2007 Canada Universal Music
August 10, 2007 Australia Warner Bros. Records
New Zealand
August 28, 2007 Germany DVD
September 5, 2007 Japan CD (standard edition)

Comprehensive charts and sales[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]