A selection of songs chosen by the notorious 'Shambles.
To begin with I was intrigued by the prospect of this as I mistakenly thought this was a Babyshambles cover versions album. Sadly, after further perusal of the press release I discovered that in fact it is instead a collection of songs chosen by Babyshambles which are favourites on the tour bus. From the creators of the 'Back to Mine' and 'Under the Influence' series, this, on the surface at least would appear to be little more than yet another cash-in on the Pete Doherty travelling circus.
This 15 track compilation spans a variety of songs both old and new. There are classics from the likes of Love and The Clash, nestled amongst more contemporary offerings such as 'Their Way' by The Littlan's, which just so happens to feature a certain Mr Doherty on guest vocals. The finished release also includes an acoustic version of 'What Katy Did Next' as well as an interview with the band, which at least indicates a little effort on behalf of the band to be directly involved in the project, rather than just having their name on it.
As a collection, 'Back To The Bus' suffers for being just too varied. Lacking the obvious theme or style you would expect from most standard compilations, it has little cohesion, and as a result the progression of songs seems stilted. Veering from the reggae of Dennis Brown to the noise of The Cazals, and the sheer oddness of Devendra Banhart's 'Chinese Children' to the slightly dated indie-pop of St Etienne, I began to feel as if I was travelling on the tour bus and beginning to experience motion sickness. There is also a little soul in the form of Esther Phillips followed by a Jazz turn from Graham Collier.
Whilst there are some strong songs here, notably the snarling punk of The Clash's 'Jail Guitar Doors' and Belle & Sebastian's laid back ditty 'Mornington Crescent', this selection reveals the same flaw as Babyshambles' own music, the mixture of acoustic, reggae, early '90s indie and modern indie does not collide neatly, leaving me with the sense that there is something for everyone here, but I don't imagine many listeners will enjoy everything. Still I've no doubt this will be a hit amongst 'Shambles fans, particularly with an exclusive song and interview as an incentive.