The Complete Works Volume One (Arista)

The last several releases by Spiritualized, the psychedelic-gospel outfit of former Spacemen 3 guitarist Jason Pierce, have been as much about Pierce's tendency toward staggering production costs as his desire to capture in song the sad, sweet ruination of recreational drug use. Pierce made no secret of the fact that he'd hired more than 100 musicians to realize the symphonic arrangements he heard in his head for 2001's Let It Come Down. So the suits at Arista must be thrilled that Pierce's new album is simply a two-disc collection of rare and out-of-print material from the band's early days -- no enormous studio bills to contend with means total profit!

As it turns out, there's plenty for the rest of us to appreciate, too. The Complete Works kicks off with both sides of the very first Spiritualized seven-inch, originally released in 1990. What's remarkable about the tunes is how expansive a sound Pierce was already mustering; the Spacemen were no slackers in terms of twisting sheets of raw noise into pretty shapes, but on "Anyway" (a cover of a Troggs hit from the mid-'60s), Pierce opens up that guitar squall wide enough to introduce a string section and lightheaded harmony vocals. There's collectors-only nonsense here, for sure, but most of Complete Works proves that Pierce's talent does in fact transcend the expense account.

More by Mikael Wood


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