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Back Numbers

4.2 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Audio CD, February 27, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips are best known for being one-half of Luna, one of the most critically acclaimed rock bands of the past two decades. Back Numbers, picks up where their debut album, L'Avventura, left off, with the spotlight on Dean & Britta's vocal interplay on originals like "Words You Used to Say" and "Wait for Me," along with covers of '60s gems such as The Troggs' "Our Love Will Still Be There" and Lee Hazlewood's "You Turned My Head Around." 2007.

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The thoroughly excellent sophomore release by the two best-looking members of Luna should make any fans who bemoaned that group's demise happy as hell with its lovingly crafted cocktail hour visions. Back Numbers offers up perfect rainy day music on every graceful, laconic song. The album recalls the sophisticated, decadent sounds of Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra throughout. Unsurprisingly, Hazlewood is covered on one song here but this is no cheesy retro exercise; in fact, no one has mined this type of material with such originality since Nick Cave approached it in the 1980s. Each song is imbued with a subtly different style, with nods to the hazy psychedelic folk-rock of Opal and Clay Allison on numbers like "Say Goodnight" and the steampunk synth washes of Sonic Boom (who performs on the album) and Suicide on "Singer Sing." Other numbers like "The Sun Is Still Sunny"--awash in sophisticated strings, hushed dual harmonies, a dash of piano and Mr. Wareham's warm and melodic guitar lines--don't sound like anyone else, at all. Huzzah! --Mike McGonigal

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Singer Sing
  2. Words You Used To Say
  3. Wait For Me
  4. You Turn My Head Around
  5. Teen Angel
  6. White Horses
  7. Me & My Babies
  8. Say Goodnight
  9. Crystal Blue
  10. The Sun Is Still Sunny
  11. Our Love Will Still Be There


Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 27, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Rounder / Umgd
  • ASIN: B000LXHGBC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #146,847 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is a stunningly beautiful and consistent album. It is not just sugary pop, either. True--it is very accessible music--but to penalize it for that, or even to apologize for its straightforward prettiness, is silly and superficial. Unlike much accessible music, "Back Numbers" starts pretty, but hits deeper and deeper with repeated listenings.
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I'll admit it took me a while to get used to Luna. At first, I dismissed them as Velvet Underground clones (insert funny story about revealing my age here: the first time I saw them around 2000, I told the 30-something guy next to me at the show "these guys sound just like Velvet Underground". He says "who"?).

Then, Luna evolved, began sounding more like, well, Luna, and became a really good jam band. At the end of their run, they had more of a late Tom Verlaine sound than early Lou Reed sound (if I recall correctly, Mr. Television did, in fact contribute to some of Luna's later records), and Britta's influence became more pronounced.

Dean and Britta's first album is drop dead gorgeous, and served as a soundtrack for the entire lazy summer of 2003. It still sounds great now. I sent that record to a friend of mine, who sent me an email commenting "it's really mellow, but great". I replied something to the effect that's about what you can expect from a couple who write songs about Valium by the seaside, and themes along those lines.

I've only given "Back Numbers" a couple of spins, but so far, the mellow psilocybin trend continues. Oddly, itunes puts in the "easy listening" category. I think that's far too simplistic of a description, since there's a lot going on below the "easy listening" part if you just pay attention, but, you can also put this on as background music.

Echoes of Lou Reed and Tina Weymouth abound, but the album continues developing what's becoming that unique Dean and Britta sound.

Summer is just around the corner. "Back numbers" is already a strong candidate to become the soundtrack for the (hopefully just as lazy) summer of 2007.
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Format: Audio CD
I bought this album immediately, mostly out of obligation, because I love the band Luna so much (their old band), and wasn't sure what to expect from the post-Luna couple. Dean Wareham is not a young pup anymore and I didn't know how much he had left after 2 decades of greatness, but this album totally renewed my faith, and in fact is better than some of Luna's album, and more impressive is the way this album doesn't feel like a Luna album while still having the same feeling, with Dean's notes floating in the air and never hitting the ground. Pretty much every song is beautiful and well crafted with a hint of fun in much of the material without ever sounding like the two are forcing it, both sounding very natural together. Overall, I would say that the parts are maybe stronger than their sum; the album is good and the songs do fit well but somehow I don't consider the album great, just very good. Another thing that I love about Dean is that he always makes albums where every song is a least solid, and the music is great to play in all situations and far many audiences. Like much of Dean's work, this is one of those albums that is great to put in the background if you have a couple of friends over or are having a conversation and just need some sophisticated music to liven and enlighten the mood.
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Format: Audio CD
Highly recommended for fans of quiet, catchy, intelligent pop. And absolutely meant for cocktails on a sultry evening. I liked it on first listen and was ultimately seduced by the record, catching myself humming some of the tunes on my way to work and other things that I don't normally do. The combination of Dean's Les Paul sound that characterized earlier Luna work, the sexiness of Britta's voice, and the nice addition of vibes and various other backing instruments (including electronic stuff that I normally don't endorse) are a great combo, and Wareham's wit and vocals keep the affair from getting too sugary as some other reviewers have suggested.

Not quite Luna, but I guess that's the point, isn't it?

Oh, and here's a bonus - Be sure to catch them on tour - the material from Back Numbers sounds great live, and their earlier Dean & Britta standards (Ginger Snaps, Night Nurse, Knives from Bavaria) really come alive in concert. Plus you'll get a couple of Luna and Galaxie 500 numbers.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I have to confess that I lost track of Dean & Britta when Luna broke up, but my interest in them was renewed recently after reading Dean's outstanding memoir "Black Postcards" and after that I sought out this album.

"Back Numbers" (11 tracks, 44 min.) brings quite a departure from the Luna sound, and that should not come as a surprise. The album brings a more laid-back sound (with again famed producer Tony Visconti at the helm, he produced Luna on at least one album that I can remember, and also Dean & Britta's first album), but with mostly excellent results. There is a mix of originals and about 3-4 excellent covers, including Lee Hazlewood's "You Turned My Head Around", my favorite track on the album, but also Donovan's "Teen Angel", another great track. Other highlights on the album for me include "Words You Used To Say" and "The Sun Is Still Sunny", just outstanding. The album flows great from track to track, and at 44 min. you'll find yourself playing this again and again.

In all, I am loving this album. I'd love to see Dean & Britta in concert bringing these songs in a live setting. Not sure that they do a lot of touring these days (particulary with Dean's newly-found attention with his critically well-received memoir), but one can only hope.
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