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Cough It Up: The Best of Spit

Spit songs are rubbish. This popular belief was perpetuated by the band themselves in interviews, fireside chats, and most of all, in the songs themselves (eg "and then Iíll stop this song Ďcause itís a lyrical disgrace", from a song which certainly is not).

In the mid-90ís, a strange musical trend called "slacker"became a major movement, typified by a hip "donít care" attitude. The music sounded lazy, like it had been thrown together in a day. Spit were the proto-slackers, starting their journey at least six years before their attitude became a popular musical style.

Iím not claiming, though, that Spit "influenced" any of these oh-so-coolly post-modern bands (yes, Beck and Pavement, Iím looking at you). No, Spit didnít get the chance to wield their influence. The US "slacker" movement was an illusion, carefully crafted in top recording studios, often with multi-million dollar budgets. Spit had to make do with two microphones and one turntable, one acoustic guitar, two kazoos. A melodica (only much later, popularised by Blur). A guest keyboard on one or two tracks.

But it is time to reassess. You canít dismiss all Spit songs as under-rehearsed, amateur throwaways. A few of them, yes. But there are some real gems in there, sadly buried beneath distortion and tape hiss. The only real weakness of this best-of is the poor audio quality. The songs themselves stand on their own.

On this greatest hits collection, you will find excellent lyrics (Just Fine, Richard Carlton, etc, etc, etc). You will find melodies that deserved a place in pop music (The Song at the end of side one, Karmic Moose, Edís Lament, etc, etc).

In 1988 we got together to record "We Are Spit", a song we originally recorded back in school, but we lost the tape. An album, "Spit on your grave", evolved by accident, thrown together over two half-days. Next year, a second album, "In Search Of... Spit", upped the anti, still fuelled by the chaotic improvisation of the first but enriched by a new strategy of preparing songs in advance. "Spit at Christmas" was recorded largely without Chris, and lacked some of the inspiration of its predecessors while boasting more confident performances and some terrific acoustic pop.

Three albums. Over sixty songs. Plenty of padding, some undergraduate humour, but lets be fair - some great stuff too.