hello folks! today we’re checking out the last of the early-tape-compilations, 2002’s Ghana. when the compilations were re-released on record label 3 Beads of Sweat, they added this comp to the mix. let’s dig in!

it is wild that the opening track here, Golden Boy, from 1998’s Object Lessons: Songs About Products,  is absolutely the best track on the compilation. the opening sound bite is funny, the song’s got a fun shift from the quieter, mellow opening to the rousing ending, and the conceit is just funny. really strong song. Pure Gold kicks off the songs from 1995’s Songs About Fire, and it’s nice, with some nice guitar pickwork. an interesting kind of paranoia with this one. Papagallo is dark and intense – real neat energy here. Song for John Davis is an odd one. very melancholic. Stars around her is p good. Songs About Fire seems like a real strong single, haha. Going to Port Washington, off 1995’s The Wedding Record, leans a bit harder on a bit of bass, letting the guitar make its way slowly along above it. p strong song. Blood Royal is the first of four songs off a split single with Alastair Galbraith, Orange Raja, Blood Royal, from 1995. the audio quality on this one is v bad. not a fan of this one. bummer that the harmonica in The Only Thing I Know is so… sharp? feels v out of place here, and doesnt quite work. Raja Vocative is a track that kinda just washes over me. no real thoughts on this one. Hatha Hill was the last of the Orange Raja songs, and i feel like this is one i could really get into, ngl. for now though, just a nice lil closing moment for that single. Going to Kirby Sigston was unreleased before it’s appearing on this album. it does work for me, and im not sure i can articulate why. just a fun energy to it. Please Come Home to Hamngatan, on the other hand, doesnt do as much. fine track. it comes from 1997’s We’ll Sail Out Far… Maybe a Little Too Far…. The Last Day of Jimi Hendrix’s Life is from another 1995 compilation, this time one called Cool Beans #4. it’s a neat musing, very instrospective. curious track. then we get another orange ball song, this time Orange Ball of Peace! p nice. it, and the next few songs, are from a ’94 tape called Taking the Dative. Standard Bitter Love Song #8 references a location in Portland in its opening line so that grabs my attention every time. this song does what it says on the box. no false advertising here. it’s also funny to me that we know of 6 Standard Bitter Love Songs but only 3 have seen official releases. we saw one on Zopilote Machine, and the other was on a tape called The Hound Chronicles. we’ll likely check it out on a rerelease later. Chino Love Song 1979 is track about a brief, drive by encounter. the drum machine in Wrong! is used in a very fun way. Going to Jamaica’s aight. Alpha Gelida, the only definitively Alpha Couple song on this compilation, closes out the Taking the Dative tracks. really interesting song – a transitory moment that can be interpreted a few different ways. Wild Palm City is from Back to the Egg, Asshole, and it was originally called Within You, Without You, before being renamed for that compilation. this feels like it’s using a similar melody and chord style to Itzcuintli-Totzli Days. lotta shared DNA there. this also sounds like it’s coming from a neighboring room. The Anglo-Saxons comes from The Basement Tapes: Live Recordings at KSPC 1989-1995. my favorite parts of this song are all the comments John’s made going “okay yeah this song’s got a lot of historical inaccuracies”. Flight 717: Going to Denmark and The Admonishing Song are both from a compilation called Corkscrewed. Flight 717 cleanly distills the feeling of being on the back foot of an argument and hoping, praying that there’s something on the other side. The Admonishing Song is one of those Mountain Goats tracks that i think the Decemberists could do a cool version of. the next three are off a split EP called The Tropical Depression EP, from 1997. Anti-Music Song is funny in concept, at least. Going to Hungary paints a very interesting narrative picture. real deal with the devil vibes here. Earth Air Water Trees is a very pleasant song about a doomed love, where the narrator knows it. a common theme for TMG, but done quite well here. the next two are off a compilation called Goar Number 11. Creature Song’s aight. Pure Sound is another transitory moment, one that the narrator wants to stretch out. Going to Maine is off a compilation cassette called Hardcore Acoustic. this one plays the “escapist” nature of the Going To series pretty straight. audio quality’s odd but i like this one. Noctifer Birmingham is from Fast Forward 2. it has moments i really dig but on the whole i find it just aight. Leaving Home is from Cyanide Guilt Trip. it’s fun in that it breaks from the normal Going To formula and is instead about leaving!

faves – Goldem Boy, Papagallo, Going to Kirby Sigston, Going to Maine
dislikes –

at 31 tracks, it’s hard for there not to be something to dig here, but also, like the other comps, i can’t recommend it unless you’ve been really enamored with the records so far and want more that is very much like them. i certainly enjoyed finding the gems!

Ghana – 5/10

once again, thanks to the Mountain Goats Wiki and the Annotated Mountain Goats site.

next week its my personal favorite Mountain Goats record, All Hail West Texas.

the beginning: Zopilote Machine | previous: The Coroner’s Gambit | next: All Hail West Texas

all my reviews for The Mountain Goats