Son Of Altered Beast

Matthew Sweet

Zoo Entertainment, 1994

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


If Matthew Sweet wasn't recognized as an artist with his first two solo albums, then his works like Girlfriend and Altered Beast set the record straight for a lot of people. Tracks like "Girlfriend," "Time Capsule" and "Devil With The Green Eyes" got significant alternative radio attention - though, strangely, his first two albums have still been ignored. (I'll freely admit I have yet to buy them - hey, you try running this on a budget of zero!)

Whether Son Of Altered Beast was meant to be a stop-gap until Sweet could deliver the next full-length album or was supposed to be a thank-you release for the fans is a moot point. What this seven-song EP does is re-affirm Sweet's power as a songwriter and as a performer.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The one previously released track, "Devil With The Green Eyes," is still a great song, though I honestly can't tell much of a difference between the original version and this "remix". It also has been some time since I dug Altered Beast out of the Pierce Memorial Archives, so I'll gladly plead a little ignorance on this part. The interchange of Sweet's vocals and rhythm guitar lines with the solo work of Robert Quine is what captures this track for me. (Also not to be taken lightly is Sweet's bass work.)

The only other studio track on Son Of Altered Beast, "Ultrasuede," is a song that is a lot of fun to listen to, but is also one that honestly wouldn't have fit in with the mood that made up Altered Beast. Maybe it would have made the cut on Girlfriend, but that's just speculation. It's not the greatest track that Sweet has written and performed, but it's hardly one that deserved to stay in the can.

The remainder of Son Of Altered Beast shows the power of Sweet's live shows, with tracks taken from San Juan Capistrano and Washington, DC. "Superdeformed" is performed so well, I wouldn't have thought it was a live track until I heard the crowd noise at the end of the track. Also deserving of your attention are "I Wanted To Tell You" and "Knowing People".

"Don't Cry No Tears" is an okay track, but is not one I would rank as a must-include on a live album. (I would have been more interested to hear a live version of "Time Capsule", to be honest.) The other track, "Someone To Pull The Trigger," is a surprise inclusion, as it is a more plodding, dark track that seems to sap the energy from the moment. Had it been put later on the album, it might have been more memorable; but to have it follow two strong tracks, it tends to do the tape an injustice.

Son Of Altered Beast is one of those albums that can be called a "for diehard fans only" release; it enhances Sweet's discography rather than bulks it up. But if you even mildly enjoyed Sweet's work up to that point in his career, then adding Son Of Altered Beast to your collection is a pretty good move.

Rating: B-

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© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Zoo Entertainment, and is used for informational purposes only.