Lesser lights of the ambient-trance underground such as Spice Barons, Patternclear, Astralfish and Hydrosphere appear on this Silent Records compilation. Despite the absence of name acts, UFA is a surprisingly solid album, filled with warm grooves and flowing synthwork.
Pryor reaffirms his mastery of postwar blues harp over the course of this sturdy set, again done with the help of some fine Texas and Chicago players. Pryor's downhome vocals shine on the distinctive "Bury You in a Paper Sack" and "Stick Way Out Behind".
Given Bob Mould's reputation for searing electric rock & roll, it may be easy to think that the title of File Under: Easy Listening is ironic, and it is to a certain extent. But beneath the loud guitars lie the friendliest, most relaxed pop songs Mould had ever written. "Your Favorite Thing" and "Can't Help You Anymore" are two of Mould's most direct, pop-oriented songs, driven by instantly memorable melodies and hooks; they are also the most conventional songs on the record. The best moments come when Sugar push the boundaries a bit, whether it's on the country-rock of "Believe What You're Saying," the swirling "What You Want It to Be" and "Company Book," the searching ballad "Panama City Motel," or "Explode and Make Up," which bristles even at its most delicate moments. Mould throws in one classic spite-fueled rocker, "Granny Cool," but the record's finest moment is "Gee Angel," a powerhouse melodic scorcher.
Of all the various best-ofs and compilations that have come out over time that cover the Go-Go's career, this one is the clearest winner, by a long shot. Though by default it doesn't tell the full story, appearing as it did in 1994, in terms of containing both the famous hits and a slew of rarities and unreleased tracks, Return to the Valley of the Go-Go's is equally valuable for both neophytes and hardcore fans. The first 11 tracks alone make for an entertaining peek into the band's earliest days, with a slew of live cuts from both early rehearsals and gigs, including a number of songs taped at the legendary SF punk venue the Mabuhay Gardens. Everything's rough, energetic, and merry fun – while it's no surprise why some compositions remained unheard in later years, it's still worth hearing how the group pureed everything from straight-up punk to spaghetti Western guitar and girl group right from the start. A real treat is a romp through "Johnny, Are You Queer?" which would later get a more famous (and much more sedate!) take by Josie Cotton. Plenty of rare B-sides from the group's commercially dominant days surface here and there, and as for the big hits, they're available a-plenty: "We Got the Beat," "Vacation," "Our Lips Are Sealed," "Head Over Heels," "Turn to You," and more. Choice album cuts include "Skidmarks on My Heart" and "This Town".