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Tindersticks Reissues Due This Spring

The moody British band Tindersticks will see their first five albums and a new two-CD "best-of" collection released by Island Records this spring. A DVD compiling many of Tindersticks' videos is also in the works. The group's first three albums — 1993's Tindersticks, the group's second album, released in 1995 and also titled Tindersticks (just to confuse everyone), and 1997's Curtains — will each be two-CD sets, with one CD replicating the original album and a second of demos, rarities and other material. Liner notes for some of the albums will be penned by the group's keyboardist, David Boulter. Their 1996 soundtrack, Nenette et Boni, and 1999's Simple Pleasures will also each include an additional CD of bonus material.

Tindersticks — vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Stuart Staples, violinist Dickon Hinchcliffe. guitarist Neil Fraser, bassist Mark Colwill, drummer Alistair Macaulay and Boulter — formed in late 1992 in Nottingham, England. That year their first record, a single titled "Milky Teeth," was released on the band's own Tippy Toe label.

"When we made our first three albums, there was a lot of space for a lot of different ideas, so there was a lot of different things happening," Boulter said last summer, before a Toronto concert in support of the group's most recent studio album, Waiting for the Moon.

Staples further explained, "I think in the beginning of our career there was a very natural subconscious flow" to the music. "But at that time we didn't have an audience, or anything really."

Tindersticks was released in 1993, also on Tippy Toe. In addition to the original album, whose 21 songs clock in at over 77 minutes, a second CD will include early demos the band recorded after moving to London. This stellar debut was voted "Album of the Year" by Britain's Melody Maker. It's an impressive first album, both for the experimental approach to song structures, and for the poetic writing, which mostly focuses on affairs of the heart.

The second album, again called Tindersticks, was released in 1995 on PolyGram. It contains 16 songs, at 70 minutes. It will be packaged with Bloomsbury Theatre, a live recording initially released as a limited-edition single CD in November 1995. The drama continues, with quieter songs and a heavy emphasis on rich string arrangements.

Curtains, released in 1997 on PolyGram, features 16 songs at 65 minutes. A second CD will include singles and unreleased songs from this period. The title was a joke: "Curtains," as in "It's over, finished, the end." You can almost feel the exhaustion and tension the band was experiencing at the time.

Those first three albums turned Tindersticks into cult legends with a small but obsessive fan base. "I suppose a lot of it has to do with the music that we make," Boulter said. "It kind of reaches people in a certain way. We are very honest in what we do. There is nothing superficial about what we do. It comes from inside. It is very pure. It goes down to the way we make the records, the way they look — it is also something that is very personal to us."

The group's first soundtrack, for the film "Nenette et Boni" by Claire Denis, was released on Island Records in 1996 (a second soundtrack, for Denis' "Trouble Every Day," was released in 2001). The film received little attention outside of Europe. Still, for Tindersticks fans, the album provided an opportunity to appreciate the beauty of the band's instrumentals. The set will also include Marks Moods, a 1997 compilation of instrumentals put together to get the band more film work.

1999's Simple Pleasure, first released on Island, will be packaged with a second CD of over a dozen unreleased songs. This album marked a strong musical change for the band. The emphasis was on soul music, and the CD was quite short, at 45 minutes, for Tindersticks. "After making Simple Pleasure everything kind of fell apart," Boulter said. "We were no longer with the record company that we had been on. We had started with a record company that was owned by PolyGram, then we became on Universal Records. It just was not a place for us to be anymore. We were not a band anymore after making Simple Pleasure. It became a space of nothing to do really. We kind of had to pull ourselves together and try to do something...."

Staples has stated in other interviews that this album "suffered from being too consciously geared towards a pre-arranged sound."

Working for the Man will be a proper "best-of" of the Island years. Again, a bonus CD will now include more than 16 rare songs.

The DVD will collect all Tindersticks' work produced by video director Martin Wallace, with the exception of "No More Affairs" and "Dying Slowly." Also included will be a few short films never before shown in public. — Timothy Hawkins [Tuesday, January 13, 2004]

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