Thursday, March 14, 2013

Buck! Buck! Buck! part 2

...And we're back. And it's still 2001 and. Josh Martinez & Low Pressure Records have put out his second version of Buck Up Princess, now sub-titled The Touring CD. It's got a pretty memorable cover of Josh in a mud pit (this photo appears on the inside booklet of the final album), and a black and white back cover with some funky artwork.

This version is only eleven songs long, the shortest of all of them. We no longer have any songs by completely unrelated artists; it's all Josh, building towards the album proper. "Rip Rap," "Theories," "BC Trees," "Nightmare," "Rainy Day" and "Women Loving Women" all return from the previous version, albeit with slightly altered spellings "Nightmare" is "Nightmarezzzz..." and "Sushi/Rip Rap" is now "RAP (r.i.p.?)." Even "Nova Scotia Baby" is back. Oh, and these are still the "demo" versions, by the way, though a couple songs (like "Nightmare") never really differ.

So those songs were carried over, others were taken away... that leaves us with four new songs. Or at least, four new titles. "The Long Way Home" turns out to be the song we now know as "Walk In the Park," though again, it's an early recording of it, missing Josh's opening chatter and the brief turntabelism by Scratch Bastard at the finish. And "Munks Inna Bunka" is actually "End Of the World," which I wrote about in part 1.

That means there's only two new songs. First we have "Never Say Die" featuring Hanni Hotstepper.: actually Logic from The Aboriginals using a silly name.  It's a pretty smart, back-and-forth duet with a funky guitar loop, even better than a couple songs that wind up making it to the final version. And finally we have "Another DAY, Another DOLLAR," produced by Logic. Now, you may recall the final album has two mixes of this song, one titled "Another Day," which opens the album, and then "Another Dollar," which is the last song. Well, this is "Another Dollar" - for some reason, Logic uses another alias - Cills - on there, but it's him again and the same track. And yes, it's another "missing the scratches demo" version.

So originally, this disc hit us with two new songs.; they were the selling points for fans to buy this CD  But now that time's passed and more versions have been released, there's really no exclusive music on this version, making this the least desirable in the series today. You don't need this in your collection unless you're a diehard completist.  But, uh.... no, I still won't sell you mine  :P

Now we enter 2002. Josh is still promising us that his new album is just around the corner, but in the meantime, he's got some more rough drafts we can buy to tide ourselves over. He released Buck Up Princess!!! (The Touring CD Vol. 2) on Low Pressure and then released it again as Buck Up Princess, Volume: Whatever on Good Luck Records. These CDs have exactly the same, identical track-listings. So that's how I came up with a half when I said there was 4.5 versions of Buck Up Princess. I just can't bring myself to call these two separate versions, and even I couldn't bring myself to purchase both.

So this one has essentially the same cover as The Touring CD, though if you notice the fonts are different, and of course the subtitle is, too. The back cover and CD itself are completely different, though, so they're easier to tell apart that way. Ten of the eleven songs from the last CD are on this one(!) - "Nova Scotia Baby" has finally been retired and "Never Say Die" has been retitled "These Pillllls!" But this album's longer, clocking in at 16 tracks, meaning we get 6 new songs.

So, what's new? "Hard Fall," "Uphill Climb," "Forged," "Blaze of Grey," One More Coffee" and "Deep End." All of those are also on the final retail version, and they aren't really "demo" versions. A couple songs, like "Uphill Climb," do feature some additional vocal samples at the beginnings and ends, but it's hard to say whether they're updates to the songs or just skits between the tracks that get blended in (the final version of the album uses a lot of snippets from movies). So in 2002 it was another six new songs to compel you to buy this next CD; but looking back on it now, it's not adding much. "These Pillllls!" never made it onto the final version, so you'll want to get one of the "mud pit covers" for that exclusive track. That paired with the demo versions (though the differences are just academic, not preferable) make them version reasonably collectible. I'd recommend either one - not both - for the dedicated fan, but no one else.

And finally, in 2003, the actual finished album dropped. And god damn is it good. It's got the new, final mixes of just about everything we've heard before, plus a couple additional tracks: "Hobo's Lullaby," "Bermuda Shorts" and the new version of "Another Day" that's even better than the old one (which is also here, anyway). This is indisputably the best version, and as I've said, the best album Josh has ever done. The production is fantastic, and Josh is on fire with both his flows and his song-writing. If you just swapped out a couple songs from other projects with the weakest three or four from here, Buck Up Princess would be a greatest hits collection all by itself. It was a slow and tortured journey, but the destination was surely worth it in the end.

I do have a few last notes, though, before I leave you. First of all, the track-listing on the final version is all screwed up: "Nightmare" is listed as "Blaze of Grey," "Uphill Climb" is listed as "Deep End;" and if you notice, the numbers jump from 5 to 8. This has only added to the confusion over what songs are and aren't unique to each version over the years. Then, the other thing I have to say, is that not only did most of this album get released years earlier on these tour CD versions (and label samplers) I've been talking about, but Josh had released many of these songs on other projects as well. There were two EPs: Rumble Pie (2002) and The Good Life (earlier in 2003), which were full  of Buck Up Princess songs, too. I think the man set some kind of record for selling the same songs to his fans the most amount of times. It was seriously ridiculous; and it's only because the album is so good that I've forgiven him.

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