Busted Stuff by Dave Matthews Band (2002)

17Feb11

The creative process for Busted Stuff has a cool back story…the majority of the songs were initially written and recorded as part of what became known as The Lillywhite Sessions. Any DMB nerd with an internet connection in 2000 (me!) was frantically searching for this “lost album” on Napster. The details of what happened have always been a little mysterious, but the basic story is that DMB recorded an awesome set of songs with famous producer Steve Lillywhite which were somehow rejected and never finished. So the band went back into the studio to start over, and the result was the 2001 album Everyday, which had radio mass appeal and all, but less depth than Busted Stuff. I’ll write about Everyday someday soon, but suffice to say it is no comparison to Busted Stuff. The Lillywhite Sessions aren’t really worth searching for these days…they are pretty much just the rough cut first version of these polished tracks.

This set of songs is exactly what DMB fans were looking for, despite the initial rejection. What the album lacks in “pop”, it doubles in personality and emotion. An anti-DMB friend of mine who digs jam bands once told me that this was the best DMB stuff he’d heard (he especially liked the song ‘Grace Is Gone’). The day Busted Stuff came out was such a rush for DMB fans…the songs that had been appearing in setlists for years were finally all cleaned up and in one place! It just doesn’t get any better than ‘Grey Street’ and ‘Bartender’ when you go see DMB in concert. There’s almost no “filler” here…even deeper cuts like ‘You Never Know’ and ‘Digging a Ditch’ get play at DMB shows. My personal favorite song on Busted Stuff is ‘Big Eyed Fish’…I love the simple “the grass isn’t always greener/be happy with who you are” message, the short anecdotes, and staccato strings throughout that keep the tune moving along. DMB included the classic instrumental ‘Kit Kat Jam’ which is exactly the kind of thing you can expect at a live show. And of course the obvious song to note is the radio single ‘Where Are You Going?’ which is simply great.

There are no holes in this record if you are a DMB fan. If you’re more of a casual fan who has heard some of their songs on the radio, this is not your album. Maybe ‘Grey Street’ or ‘Where Are You Going?’ will do the trick for you, but you’d probably find more of what you’re looking for on their first few albums. Busted Stuff has some of the late Leroi Moore’s best work, especially evident on ‘Grace Is Gone’. The band really came together to finish these songs…Busted Stuff is a real masterpiece that stays in heavy rotation of DMB fans and concert setlists almost a decade later. The release and success of this record was a pivotal and somewhat transitional time in the band’s existence. It confirmed that DMB does best when they go with their gut, because the fans are not looking for radio singles and pop hooks. Gimme the title track ‘Busted Stuff’ any day of the week over ‘Everyday’!

music turtle recommends: BUY THIS STUFF!

What do you think about this album? Comment below

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