Album Review: Grinspoon – Guide to Better Living (20th Anniversary Edition) (2017 LP)

This month, well known Aussie rockers Grinspoon are releasing a deluxe edition of their first studio album Guide to Better Living. Celebrating the 20 years it’s been around by adding a load of live tracks to the album list.

Grinspoon formed in 1995 and released Guide to Better Living two years later in September. The album spent thirty-six weeks on the national charts and granted the band a nomination for ‘Breakthrough Artist – Album’ at the 1998 ARIA awards. Selling 70,000 plus copies in Australia landed them a deal with the US branch of Universal Studios. An altered version of the album which didn’t contain the five live tracks from Grudgefest was soon released in the States and sold twelve thousand copies.

The 20th anniversary deluxe edition features of course the original Australian release version containing sixteen tracks. Whether you’re hearing it for the first time or the hundredth time you’re going to be impressed. “Just Ace” and “DCx3” proved to be fan favourites with both singles making it at spots twnety-five and fifty in 1997’s Australian music charts. Grinspoon labeled themselves as arguably Australia’s best 90’s rockers with this creation. Crunchy grunge, ringing riffs and rebellious singing was now Grinspoon’s trademark. Incredible from such a young group of guys, singer Phil Jamieson was only twenty years old when recording the album.

Next is a ten track set from a gig Grinspoon played in New York 1997. Showcasing just how well the band could play the album live together so recent to the release. Included in the set are songs “American Party Bomb” and “Black Friday” which were released in later years. Also a B-side track, “Butcher” which can be heard as studio version on the deluxe edition bonus disc. The enormous energy can be heard from Jamieson, he doesn’t hold back at all during the entire set. Although he presents himself as such a large personality and strong being while singing, he can be heard talking between songs to band mates and the crowd, sounding your typical shy twenty year old. Obviously packing an aggressive inner which he releases in his cheeky yet punk lyrics and vocals.

The first half of the bonus disc contains ten B-sides and/or rarities. A softer side of Grinspoon in “Green Grass Meadows” which was previously unreleased and a much more aggressive and crazy side of the band in “Fuck Truck” and “Fire Engine Man”. Vocals and screams like no others heard alongside much stranger guitar riffs and scrubs. Also featured are remixes of “Pedestrian”, “Champion” and “Railrider”. None-the-less a very interesting listen, Grinspoon fan or not.

Completing the bonus disc is all thirteen songs performed by Lismore greats at Falls Festival 1997. Most tracks were picked off the first studio album, with “American Party Bomb” once again making it into their live show. Expectedly heard is a much larger crowd than the first featured club show in New York. Jamieson containing what sounds like much more confidence chatting to the crowd between songs, whether it was experience from past American shows or maybe just the influence of alcohol or drugs, it’s a very entertaining listen. They end the set with song, “Dr. Grinspoon” about professor Lester Grinspoon from Harvard Medical school who supports marijuana for medical use, whom they also got the band name from.

Guide to Better Living Deluxe Edition is an intriguing insight into Grinspoon’s earlier career with extremely early live tracks, new releases and strangely enjoyable remixes. After listening to the entirety of the disc set you learn exactly why Grinspoon had such great success in the first stages of their career.

Review Score: 9.1 out of 10 

The 20th anniversary Guide to Better Living is out 23th June.


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