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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best kept
Lamb is an outstanding trip-hop band. Come on, admit it -- their music is beautiful, polished and textured, and it's a sign of the world's unfairness that people like Celine Dion outsell them. But I digress. "Best of Lamb 1996-2004: Best Kept Secrets" is a surprisingly good look back on the history of... well, one of electronica's best kept secrets.

A lot of...
Published on October 8, 2004 by E. A Solinas

versus
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The real SECRET is why so many songs are missing...
Despite their dedication to a rabid fanbase and their impressive bounty of exquisite music, Lamb sure can be a hard band to love. After Andy Barlow and Louise Rhodes dropped their sharp, celebrated self-titled debut in 1997, the wait was considerable for 1999's FEAR OF FOURS, and though the shift in sound was different (the organic jazz undertones were pushed to the...
Published on June 24, 2005 by NickAtNite


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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The real SECRET is why so many songs are missing..., June 24, 2005
By 
This review is from: Best of Lamb 1996-2004: Best Kept Secrets (Audio CD)
Despite their dedication to a rabid fanbase and their impressive bounty of exquisite music, Lamb sure can be a hard band to love. After Andy Barlow and Louise Rhodes dropped their sharp, celebrated self-titled debut in 1997, the wait was considerable for 1999's FEAR OF FOURS, and though the shift in sound was different (the organic jazz undertones were pushed to the forefront with the beats mostly secondary), it was a woefully underrated album that I personally feel bested the debut in some ways. In fact, if vocalist Rhodes hadn't somehow morphed from sounding soft and enveloping to sounding like a long-lost member of Alvin and the Chipmunks' sister band the Chipettes, FOF would have been damn near perfect.

Lord knows what precipitated the move towards soft sounds and spackled edges that marred 2001's WHAT SOUND and especially 2003's BETWEEN DARKNESS AND WONDER, but it was probably the band's frequent -- and ultimately fatal -- squabbling that marked the drop-off in songcraft. A recent read of their oft-updated Web site confirms that Lamb is now kaput (although both Barlow and Rhodes are prepping solo material). And so we get a best-of compendium to wrap it all up. It should be a slam dunk. It isn't.

Granted, this is Lamb, and Lamb were superb more often than not. The best moments here -- "Cotton Wool," "Gorecki," "B-Line," "Gabriel" -- are epochal moments that transcend the original tired trip-hop and drum-n-bass tags; although they've never been honoured as such, they're all contributions to dance music in general, and at least as important in legacy as anything by Massive Attack or Moby. There are several other really good songs here, and even at its worst -- namely the BDAW tracks at the end -- BEST KEPT SECRETS is never less than listenable.

But there are simply too many key tracks missing, prompting the question, Who organized the track listing for this album (and who is their dealer)? Sixteen tracks and five of them -- five! -- come from their maligned, uneventful swan song (BDAW). When a band does this it is obvious they are trying to reintroduce material that was ignored the first time (and often with good reason). I have to say, it's pretty thoughtless toward the listener and unfair to the body of work as a whole.

For instance, what good is a Lamb retrospective without "Lusty," which is not only the most intriguing and original track off their debut but also, as most Lamb fans will attest, the most adored? And where's "Softly" from FEAR OF FOURS? It's their hands-down finest slow song and probably the closest they came to a potential crossover hit. Its absence is especially puzzling as it was released as a single (as was "I Cry" from WHAT SOUND, which isn't here either).

I'm also curious who this album is for. The suspect choice of material suggests it was intended as more of a collection of Lamb's most "important" or "interesting" work rather than their best or most popular, which would make it more appropriate for existing fans than newcomers. If this is the case, a couple of rarities would have softened the blow of the missing songs. Lamb had way more remixes than B-sides (some of which were quite stirring), but I would have at least made room for their delicious jazz rendition of "The Night Has A Thousand Eyes." Canadian fans like myself would also have found the addition of "Written" a nice treat, as it was needlessly omitted from our pressings of WHAT SOUND.

Alas, it's hard to recommend BEST KEPT SECRETS when modern technology can assist you in making a best-of that is so much more. I feel bad making such a statement regarding an album by one of my favourite bands of all time, but this is such an off-the-mark representation of Lamb's successes that I really feel compelled to tell any curious purchasers about what BEST KEPT SECRETS should have been.

My dream track listing (for anyone who cares):

1. Lusty

2. Cotton Wool

3. Trans Fatty Acid

4. Gorecki

5. Little Things

6. B-Line

7. All In Your Hands

8. Softly

9. Fly

10. What Sound

11. Sweet

12. Heaven

13. Gabriel

14. Til The Clouds Clear

15. Written

16. The Night Has A Thousand Eyes
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best kept, October 8, 2004
This review is from: Best of Lamb 1996-2004: Best Kept Secrets (Audio CD)
Lamb is an outstanding trip-hop band. Come on, admit it -- their music is beautiful, polished and textured, and it's a sign of the world's unfairness that people like Celine Dion outsell them. But I digress. "Best of Lamb 1996-2004: Best Kept Secrets" is a surprisingly good look back on the history of... well, one of electronica's best kept secrets.

A lot of "Best Of" albums stagger under the weight of personal preference -- meaning that the fans keep asking "Where is...? What happened to...? How could they not include...?" I didn't feel that way when listening to these sixteen chronological songs. While most Lamb songs are beautiful, these songs do a good job of showing their evolution from rough trip-hop to smooth, almost jazzy electronica.

The self-titled debut was a mix of the epic and rock-y -- "Cotton Wool" and "God Bless" are superb percussion-pop song with some trip-hop edge. "Best of Lamb" starts off dark, but gets... not exactly light, but more upbeat and less sprawling. One exceptional example is "Bonfire," a passionate, sweeping song that perfectly showcases Louise Rhodes' beautiful vocals.

Their style changed even more later on, moving further from their debut and into the realm of purer trip-hop -- less orchestral, less rock-y. "Gabriel" is a pretty song, and "Angelica" a gentle trip-hop-piano melody. They took that sound even further, and it's reflected in the finale of this album -- the trippy "Stronger" and the airy "Wonder."

It's definitely a good place to investigate if you're a Lamb virgin. If you have all four albums, however, it won't yield much that's new to you. But it's also a pleasant capsule look at their evolution as a band -- they started off sprawling and dark, and have (so far) become much jazzier and airier. Some of the song choices are a little obvious -- "Gabriel," for example, which apparently is a hit among romantics.

Lamb will probably never break into the No. 1 slot -- although stranger things have happened -- but their songs remain rich and beautiful, no matter which album you listen to. And as an introduction, either to the band or to albums you don't have, this is a pretty good one.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Kept Secrets indeed..., June 18, 2004
By 
Daniel Ramos Haaz (Boca del Rio, Veracruz Mexico) - See all my reviews
I listened to Lamb for the first time a long time ago (1998-9), for the first and only time I saw their "B-Side" video on MTV. Back then it was one of the coolest things for me, the video and the song. Unfortunately this type of music isn't very popular in Mexico when groups like Portishead, Massive attack and Tricky are practically unnoticed. Since I'm a big fan of their music, I actually own all of the other CDs, but I couldn't resist on buying this one to get the DVD with their videos... Money well-spent
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ethereal trip hop from the UK!!, June 6, 2005
By 
This review is from: Best of Lamb 1996-2004: Best Kept Secrets (Audio CD)
While walking through the departure lounge of London Heathrow to catch a flight, I heard this beautiful, crystal clear voice set against an ethereal trip hop backdrop. I backtracked and inquired who the artist was and was told it was Lamb.

I decided to get this CD and it is my introduction to Lamb, and a very good one for someone (like me) who was totally unfamiliar with their stuff. There was some stuff that needed repeated plays to get into but well worth it.

Lamb are a trip hop/electronica/drum `n bass duo from the UK, comparable in style to Portishead or Tricky. Their songs are usually musically complicated (`Cotton wool', `Gold', 'God bless', `B Line' for example) but with catchy vocals.

The track that got me, `Gorecki' is a charmer. Other great songs are `Lullaby' (which will NOT send you to sleep, I promise), `Heaven' (lilting song that about takes one there), the beautiful instrumental `Til the clouds clear', the hypnotic sounding `Wonder', `Please' (a gentle ballad sung in a pleading voice), and my favourite, `Gabriel', a lush dramatic number with jazz flourishes, comparing one's lover to the angel Gabriel.

Accompanying each track in the booklet are personal notes on the making of/inspiration behind/etc each track, which I found to be a real treat.

There is an accompanying bonus DVD with 7 videos (6 of which are tracks featured on this CD).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best trip hop jazz fuision folk groups around!!, June 16, 2004
By 
Patrick E. Perret "patrick" (New Orleans, LA ( U.S.A.)) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I discovered lamb about four years ago,what a suprise a strange fuision of jazz,folk,eletronic and triphop.Great vocals with tons of emotion If you like Billie Holiday,erikha badu,portishead,triky and etc,you will find lamb to be a journey of soul that in it's self is orginal.One of the best groups this decade,Very Under Rated!!!
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Music this good shouldn't be a secret, December 13, 2004
This review is from: Best of Lamb 1996-2004: Best Kept Secrets (Audio CD)
I only have one Lamb album, Fear of Fours, but this compilation certainly makes me wish I had more. And isn't that the point? At 1 hour 11 minutes, the disc is a bit long. But as an introduction to their work it works really well, offering a range of their version of trip-hop/electronica and the evolution of their music from more intense to more mellow and melancholy. And unlike many best of albums which can be an uneven gathering of hits in which the sum is less than the total of the individual parts, this disc works well as an album in and of itself. Their 4 albums are about equally represented with about 4 songs each. The bonus DVD of 7 videos (6 of the 7 appear on the cd) is quite good too and will make the album more attractive to people who already own all of their albums since all the songs have been previously released.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Best kept, December 10, 2004
Lamb is an outstanding trip-hop band. Come on, admit it -- their music is beautiful, polished and textured, and it's a sign of the world's unfairness that people like Celine Dion outsell them. But I digress. "Best of Lamb 1996-2004: Best Kept Secrets" is a surprisingly good look back on the history of... well, one of electronica's best kept secrets.

A lot of "Best Of" albums stagger under the weight of personal preference -- meaning that the fans keep asking "Where is...? What happened to...? How could they not include...?" I didn't feel that way when listening to these sixteen chronological songs. While most Lamb songs are beautiful, these songs do a good job of showing their evolution from rough trip-hop to smooth, almost jazzy electronica.

The self-titled debut was a mix of the epic and rock-y -- "Cotton Wool" and "God Bless" are superb percussion-pop song with some trip-hop edge. "Best of Lamb" starts off dark, but gets... not exactly light, but more upbeat and less sprawling. One exceptional example is "Bonfire," a passionate, sweeping song that perfectly showcases Louise Rhodes' beautiful vocals.

Their style changed even more later on, moving further from their debut and into the realm of purer trip-hop -- less orchestral, less rock-y. "Gabriel" is a pretty song, and "Angelica" a gentle trip-hop-piano melody. They took that sound even further, and it's reflected in the finale of this album -- the trippy "Stronger" and the airy "Wonder."

It's definitely a good place to investigate if you're a Lamb virgin. If you have all four albums, however, it won't yield much that's new to you. But it's also a pleasant capsule look at their evolution as a band -- they started off sprawling and dark, and have (so far) become much jazzier and airier. Some of the song choices are a little obvious -- "Gabriel," for example, which apparently is a hit among romantics.

Lamb will probably never break into the No. 1 slot -- although stranger things have happened -- but their songs remain rich and beautiful, no matter which album you listen to. And as an introduction, either to the band or to albums you don't have, this is a pretty good one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lamb - Don't let it wash over you..., June 25, 2010
By 
Lamb's best songs are not "wash over you" ambient tracks. They change rhythm they change instruments ... they change.
So (despite what one reviewer said), you're not going to want to play this as you're falling asleep.

My personal favorite Lamb album is "What Sound," which I think is a bit underrepresented on this.
My favorite Lamb track period is "Small" from that album, which is really one of their more playfully arranged tracks and is just plain fun to listen to. Not on this collection.

I give the band 5 stars and I think the collection earns that musically. I agree with other reviewers who say it's not the very best collection of songs or the most representative or the the best retrospective of the band's evolution.
But an album can be excellent without being perfect.

If you haven't heard Lamb before, I'd get "What Sound" before getting this collection.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An explosion of sound, August 9, 2006
This review is from: Best of Lamb 1996-2004: Best Kept Secrets (Audio CD)
Given the fact that I have always loved bands as Portishead and Hooverphonic it is a bit strange to only know find out the brilliance that is Lamb.

Sure I had heard Gorecki and some other songs but they never really stuck. Until I rediscovered them about a month ago.

It started with "till the clouds clear" not only a song with great music but also with great lyrics and interaction between the two.

From there I went back to songs as Gorecki, What Sound and Angelika.

This "best of" gives you a great overview of the weirdness and (dis)harmonies this band uses to create their songs and the way it all blends together perfectly.

Ofcourse people are going to complain that songs are not included ( I really miss "What sound" on this one ) but for the person who would like to have a great compilation of one of the best Triphop bands around : get this one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sure Glad I Discovered Lamb, March 22, 2007
By 
Joseph P. Darak Jr. (Gallup, NM United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Best of Lamb 1996-2004: Best Kept Secrets (Audio CD)
Found this group in someones best of list on Amazon. Wow! They are already my 2nd favorite band. Hungry Lucy is #1. A very unique singin voice that works perfectly with the kind of music they generate. Lamb has a fuller sound to them than other electronic music bands. They also have a lighter air about their songs. Great songwriting, varied experimentation, and great sound effects. You get a DVD with this album that is one of the best music DVD'S I've seen. A real enjoyable treat. I hope they are still together. After all I am just discovering them. This is great talent and a real positive buzz.
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