Barenaked Ladies – Stop Us If You’ve Heard This One Before! (2012)

With Stop Us If You’ve Heard This One Before!, the Barenaked Ladies have cranked open their vault of rarities, demos, B-sides, and live tracks. There’s also a “remix.” The songs are culled from the period between 1992 and 2003, with material found on the flipsides of records from Gordon to Everything to Everyone making appearances.

The Ladies have gone through some changes over the years, of course, so Stop Us If You’ve Heard This One Before! is a nice look back at “where we used to live.” The inimitable voice of the now-departed Steven Page is a welcome addition, for one thing, and the band sounds fuller with him in it.

Now, there’s some record label fun going on behind the scenes with this release. The Barenaked Ladies went independent after 2003 (and were independent prior to Gordon). This release is from Rhino Records, a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Warner owns the rights to the Ladies’ recordings during the period featured on this compilation.

This isn’t exactly the most comprehensive or “rare” of outings. It features a good number of songs that are featured in other places — like on Barenaked Ladies are Me and Barenaked Ladies are Men, for instance. Those two releases, by the way, are among the Ladies’ first recordings after going indie in ’03.

So what we end up with are “first recordings” of tracks like “Adrift” and “Half a Heart,” two tracks that would appear on Barenaked Ladies are Me/Men in “new forms.” There’s very little difference between the versions, but that hasn’t stopped Warner from scraping the bottom of the tin and slapping the “demos” on this compilation.

Among the better demo versions is an acoustic version of “Old Apartment” that prominently features Page’s vulnerable side. It is a step up from the studio version, in fact, and really draws out the surprising lyrical depth. A couple of live performances, the Massey Hall-recorded “Teenage Wasteland” and the Beastie Boys cover “Shake Your Rump,” make for interesting listening. There’s also a fairly excessive remix of “One Week,” one of the Ladies’ more popular tunes. It features irritating sound effects and doesn’t differ that much from the original (surprise!).

Stop Us If You’ve Heard This One Before! feels like a cash grab, because it is. Some hardcore fans will dig things like the version of “I Don’t Get It Anymore,” recorded during the Disc 1 sessions, but the rest of us won’t be able to tell the difference. Strictly for the big Barenaked Ladies fan on your shopping list, this compilation doesn’t feel as good or “rare” as it could’ve been.

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Jordan Richardson

Jordan Richardson is a Canadian freelance writer and ne'er-do-well. He also contributes to his own Canadian Cinephile and Canadian Audiophile websites. Contact Something Else! Reviews at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.