Buffalo Tom began life as a trio of pre-grunge, neo-psychedelic guitar maulers owing a heavy debt to Dinosaur Jr. (though one might argue that on Birdbrain they actually beat J. Mascis at his own game), but over the next dozen years they matured into a considerably more dynamic and intelligent band, capable of generating crunching rockers or acoustic ballads with equal precision, all of which possessed heart, soul, and a compassionate intelligence. Asides from Buffalo Tom compiles most of the band's best-known songs, including the top sides of their singles, radio emphasis tracks, a few fan favorites, and a cover of the Jam's "Going Underground" from a 1999 tribute album. While the album isn't sequenced chronologically, which would have made a greater case for their growth over time, it does a superb job of capturing the many sides of their musical personality, and it is both a fine summation of their first 11 years as a recording act and great introduction to one of the better bands to rise from the alt-rock scene in the 1990s.
The budget-priced From the Vaults collects ten tracks Tom Jones recorded over the years, but for one reason or another never released. It's hard to see why these stayed in the vaults – there may be no great lost treasures here, but much of this collection is certainly as good as most of his album tracks. There are a number of weak moments, to be sure (several tracks, such as "Standing Invitation" and "Shady Business," make no impression whatsoever), but covers of Dylan's "I Believe In You" and Chuck Berry's "Memphis, Tennessee" are reason enough for hardcore fans to pick up this collection.