Meet the Eels Vol. 1, Useless Trinkets
Being an Eels fan is like belonging to a secret society: With every release you wonder how much you want to share your band.
Well, it's out of your hands. A two-volume set---five discs in all---of essential tracks from albums released between 1996 and 2006 (Meet the Eels, Vol.1) plus B-sides, soundtrack contributions, rarities and unreleased tracks (Useless Trinkets), is now out. The 24 tracks of the first package detail the band's recorded history in chronological order. A thematic sequence could've worked. Eels have followed a cyclical musical evolution, starting out by rocking out and moving through acoustic folk- and jazz-based pop, returning to the rock and back to an organ-led vibe. While there's an Eels Video Collection DVD, the liner notes give more insight into how Eels main man E (AKA Mark Oliver Everett) thinks of his songs.
The power of the second package comes from live tracks. These illustrate the many eras of Eels. (Also included here, the remixes---especially the several versions of "My Beloved Monster"---do little to increase the appreciation for the band: a small complaint.) Liner notes include reproductions of concert posters, set lists and stage shots, while a live DVD draws from the band's 2006 Lollapalooza tour appearances. In the end, you have to face facts: Eels belong to the world.