When a band reunites, it’s often a good thing. When they reunite and record new material, it’s an even better thing. It’s more interesting, however, when they record new versions of their older material. Cleveland’s Death Of Samantha has taken this approach in a methodically intelligent way – If Memory Serves Us Well, their first new release in 24 years, is a career-spanning retrospective, recorded live in the studio the night before their reunion show with the band’s original line-up. This serves as an appropriate link to their past – by revisiting their old catalog it bridges the way toward a future again as a band.
The sound quality is very good; a recorded rehearsal sometimes leaves a lot to be desired, but this is alive with excitement. Kicking off with “Coca Cola and Licorice” with its obvious nods to The Cramps and an Ubu-esque opening, it’s a good, exciting ride. “Bed Of Fire”‘s garage-y feel chugs along nicely into “Now It’s Your Turn (To Be A Martyr)”‘s wry blues-ish vibe. “Conviction” has that now-classic ’80’s dreamy guitar pop sensibility, which I love; “Savior City” excites from the opening drum-and-guitar intro. There are eighteen tracks on this CD; a lot to choose from and a lot to enjoy. Other highlights include “Blood And Shaving Cream” and “Harlequin Tragedy” – again, a mixed musical salad for varying tastes, but all wonderfully digestible. Best of all, this sounds like a young band that have lost no time, nor their intensity.
24 years is a long time between albums. A great reintroduction to a fine band who knows how to reenter the game without limping in. The even better news is that their back catalog is due to be reissued, as well as a new album (yes, of new material) in 2014. If you aren’t familiar with Death Of Samantha, this is an excellent primer.