June 25, 2008

Muse on iTunes

Posted in Music at 2:10 am by Calico Jack

For those of us in the U.S. who are Muse fans, iTunes has been a soruce of disappointment over the past several years. All of their albums have been available for purchase, and that’s it — no B-sides, no singles, and no compilations. iTunes UK has everything, but unless you’re skillful enough to work around the UK credit card/billing address requirements, there haven’t been too many legal options left for people wanting more Muse. You could either pay often-outrageous prices for UK and Japanese imports, or you could rely on the generosity of UK friends and the invaluable Muselive (seriously, that site is pure gold).

For most bands, this wouldn’t be a big deal. Rarities and B-sides are often left off of albums for a reason: they’re simply not up to par with the album tracks. But just like Sigur Rós and The National, Muse’s non-album songs are fully equal with anything they’ve released on an LP. And now, for the first time, iTunes US has a very substantial collection of Muse singles available for download. Oh, happy day!

I’m not the biggest fan of iTunes’ thirty-second preview for music; it often isn’t enough to get a sense for what a song is actually like. Below I’ve put full-length, high-quality streams for five of Muse’s B-sides, along with links to buy the tracks on iTunes. The sixth, “Crying Shame,” isn’t on iTunes yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it in a few weeks.

First up is “Fury,” the Japanese bonus track for 2003’s Absolution LP. “Fury” nearly made it onto the regular album, but was replaced at the last minute by “The Small Print.” It’s a shame, because “Fury” is hands-down one of the top five songs Muse has ever released. Listen in awe:

Buy on iTunes

Next we have “Eternally Missed,” a B-side to the “Hysteria” single. It’s one of the longest songs Muse has ever recorded at 6+ minutes, but it has a nice thumping bass to keep things moving. Some Musers call it a masterpiece; I think it’s merely very good — but decide for yourself:

Buy on iTunes

Third on the playlist is “The Groove,” a rifftastic B-side from the “Sing for Absolution” single. Muse hasn’t played this one live since 2004 (well, apart from instrumental versions here and there), and it’s become a running joke for Muse fans to bring banners with the words “Play The Groove!” to every concert.

Buy on iTunes

Moving on to the Black Holes and Revelations era, we have this album’s Japanese bonus track, “Glorious” — one of my favorites due to its chromatic chorus and passionate lyrics: “Believes we could be glorious…”

Buy on iTunes

The last non-remix B-side on iTunes is “Assassin (Grand Omega Bosses edit)” from the “Knights of Cydonia” 7″ vinyl. The song is an extended version of the “Assassin” track from Black Holes and Revelations., including different percussion, more distortion, and a very, very tight bridge in the middle that’s completely missing from the album version. Those changes turn “Assassin” into a must-play on my iPod; it’s a far superior version in every way. I can understand why Muse didn’t put it on the album, since it’s definitely more prog-leaning than the other BH&R songs. Check it out:

Buy on iTunes

And finally, we have a song that isn’t currently available for iTunes purchase, although I hope it will be soon. “Crying Shame” is a B-side off of the “Supermassive Black Hole” single, although it was originally rumored to be Black Holes and Revelations’ first single. It’s a bit too short for me to feel like I can ever fully enjoy the song in one sitting, but I’ve put it on here for your listening pleasure:

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