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The Wayward Bus / Distant Plastic Trees


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Audio CD, January 23, 1995
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the Magnetic Fields
Love at the Bottom of the Sea

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Songwriter Stephin Merritt enjoys working with themes: escape, country roads, vampires, miniatures. The Magnetic Fields’ House of Tomorrow (1992) featured all “loop” songs. Distortion (2008) was an homage to the sound ... Read more in Amazon's The Magnetic Fields Store

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The Wayward Bus / Distant Plastic Trees + Holiday + 69 Love Songs
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 23, 1995)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Merge Records
  • ASIN: B0000019NK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73,201 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. When You Were My Baby
2. The Saddest Story Ever Told
3. Lovers From The Moon
4. Candy
5. Tokyo A Go-Go
6. Summer Lies
7. Old Orchard Beach
8. Jeremy
9. Dancing In Your Eyes
10. Suddenly There Is A Tidal Wave
11. (Untitled)
12. Railroad Boy
13. Smoke Signals
14. You Love To Fail
15. Kings
16. Babies Falling
17. Living In An Abandoned Firehouse With You
18. Tar-Heel Boy
19. Falling In Love With The Wolfboy
20. Josephine
See all 21 tracks on this disc

Editorial Reviews

Two-fer containing the first two albums from the Indie/Electropop band led by Stephin Merritt: Distant Plastic Trees (1991) and The Wayward Bus (1992). On these two albums, Merritt is responsible for the music and instrumentation while Susan Anway handles the lead vocals.

Customer Reviews

It still sounds quite muddy though, but that's how it is supposed to sound.
Ron Heck
There's a Phil Spector-ish vibe filtered through the Merritt lo-fi home recording system on songs like "When You Were My Baby" and "The Saddest Story Ever Told".
W. Davidson
This is indie music at its best, and I can't think of another band with which to compare "this" Magnetic Fields.
Colin Cortes

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By W. Davidson on July 14, 2002
Format: Audio CD
This is my favourite of all the Magnetic Fields releases to date. It contains their first album 'Distant Plastic Trees' (minus one track - 'Plant White Roses'). It's is a strange and beautiful record full of songs that use unusual structures and orchestrations ('Babies Falliing' is little more than a folk song sung over sounds of trickling and noise, 'Living In An Abandoned Firehouse with You' uses warm atmospheric electronics and a great melody, 'Kings' is again a seemingly unstructured piece with a bizzare melody and odd backing track). On this CD all tracks are sung by Susan Anway who negotiates herself like a zombie through Stephin Merritt's lyrical word play and electronic musical mazes. The effect is stunning and not distancing as it may at first sound. Lurking amongst the obscurities is the alterna-hit '100'000 Fireflies' which sounds positively conventional in this setting.
The rest of the CD (the first 10 tracks) are made up of The Wayward Bus songs which were recorded after the Distant Plastic Trees tracks. . Susan Anway is again your vocalist de jour and these songs are great in an entirely different way. There's a Phil Spector-ish vibe filtered through the Merritt lo-fi home recording system on songs like "When You Were My Baby" and "The Saddest Story Ever Told". There's the odd stinker ('Tokyo A Go Go' anyone?) but so many moments of divinity ('Candy', 'Jeremy', 'Like Lovers From the Moon') easily outweigh this. Track 11 is 4 and a half mintues of silence that separate the two sections of the CD - Why? Who knows, just chalk it up as one of the mysteries of the Magnetic Fields.
I can take or leave some of the later efforts such as the 69 Love Songs extravaganza, but The Wayward Bus is a CD I constantly revisit.
PS: Oh and can I just add how nice it is to again see the attractive artwork of Wendy Smith on the cover (she did the cover art for the band, Weekend, in the 1980's).
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Chet Fakir on October 10, 2004
Format: Audio CD
I usually detest indie pop like this: low fi, precious, sentimentally gloopy songs with detached singing and little or no guts to the music. But damn if this doesn't work in an odd, magical way. The songs don't rock for sure, but the melodies and lyrics pack a delicate punch that can be either soothing, cathartic or just bittersweet. Songs for after the breakup with the love of your life.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ryan Hennessy on September 17, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Okay, so first I want to note the strange ordering of this album. This is actually told old albums that were recently put together on one CD to be re-released by Merge Records. That's good for people like me because it's makes for one less CD to have to buy. But they put the Wayward Bus album before Distant Plastic Trees, even though Trees was released in 1989 and the Bus was released in 1991. If this was in chronological order, they would be reversed. And that would help a lot because there's a significant difference in the sound between the two albums. So that's how I'm going to do this review, the opposite of the way Merge wanted it.
So I guess Distant Plastic Trees was the first glimpse the world had of the Magnetic Fields. Even though they were New Wave and they were synthpop, the sound doesn't strike you that way at all. There's a lot of opposing forces going on here. Stephin Merritt, *the* Magnetic Field, has a penchant for love songs, and not just love songs but ones that sound like they could have been written 70 years ago, although they do have a lot of strange twists. So in a sense, almost every Magnetic Fields song has an antique feel to it lyrically. The music is mostly programmed on keyboards and other synthesizers, but they don't sound like anything else. Merritt likes using noisy machines, comforting music being played on beat up old things that are past their prime. So the music sounds like it's striving for perfection, but it just sounds rather messy, here on the first album more than any other. And there you have the charm of the Magnetic Fields.
All of the songs on this double album were sung by Susan Anway who has a classic and clean delivery juxtaposed against all the machinery around her.
Read more ›
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Collin M. David on November 5, 2000
Format: Audio CD
I won't go into what everyone has already said about Stephen Merritt and who he is and all, but I WILL say that Merritt's 'poor production' on this album was intentional. It gives the album a warm, personal feel, which would be totally destroyed if the electric instruments were left in their pure, harsh forms. He processes and reprocesses them until they are rough, the dead opposite of the intent behind the instruments themselves. As a result, they are friendly to us.
The female vocals are representative of what one can expect to find in 'indie' music... they don't have the melodramatic passion of what is expected from mainstream music, but the almost monotone, unwavering voice on this album complements the electronic nature of it. She sings slong, not sings over the music. As a result, we have a beautiful and unexpected merging of human and machine.
And who can say no to heavy experimentation? That is the only way that anything new ever happens. No, don't start your Merritt collection with this album, but don't discount it. Come back to it later, listen to it in the background, and it will grow attached to you inseperably.
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