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It's Been a While *

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Performer Notes
  • Recording information: Greenwich, England (02/2000-05/2004); London Lounges, Kitchens And Bedrooms Of Crystal Palace (02/2000-05/2004); New Cross (02/2000-05/2004).
  • The Pines are the London-based duo of Joe Booker and Pam Berry. Booker's probably best known for his role as one half of the Foxgloves, and Berry's best known for having worked with every indie pop group that ever was. OK, that's an exaggeration, but she did work with a lot of bands (Black Tambourine, the Snowdrops, and the Clientele among them). Anyway, It's Been a While gathers up 20 of the Pines' singles, unreleased tracks, rare Christmas songs, and other doodads into one big bundle of dreamy, melancholy goodness. It's an impressive collection, especially as far as odds-and-sods releases go, simply because it covers so much ground. More than that, it turns out that a disc like this is necessary. The Pines have released a heck of a lot of their work on EPs, compilation discs, demos and whatnot, so It's Been a While provides a nice entry point for newcomers, latecomers, and those who simply weren't in the right place at the right time. Granted, this is a pretty large collection, and even the most hardcore of twee fans might find the Pines' melancholy sweetness a little overpowering after about 12 tracks. And there are a few so-so songs; "Chalet," a Christmas song, and "Static" feel somewhat directionless and underdone. But they're the minority, and it turns out that the Pines tucked a lot of great songs into their EPs. "MGM," a hesitant, wistful send-up to hat-wearing Hollywood glamour girl Ruth Hussey, "Rainy Day" and "Forget Me Nots," both of which sound like they could have been recorded 40 years prior to this release, and the opening track, "Milk Bar," all find the Pines at their jangly and bittersweet best. Established fans and newcomers alike will not be disappointed with what they discover here. ~ Margaret Reges
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