Release Date: March 7, 2006 – Victory Records
This re-recording of Keasbey Nights (aka Keasbey Nights Volume 2, as Amazon called it) had been a persistent rumor since Streetlight Manifesto first formed in 2002. However, after several mysterious annoucements on their website and finally a press release by their label, it became clear that it would be a dream come true for ska punk fans everywhere.
As their simple liner notes make clear, this is a re-recording of the original Keasbey. There are no new songs or bonus features. There are differences, of course. Lyrically there are a few minor line changes here and there that will make fans of the original album smile and nod in appreciation. To the casual listener, the songs have the same lyrics. Musically, most of the solos were stripped out and replaced with new and I would argue more mature and enjoyable arrangements. In terms of production, the recording is 100% cleaner. The bass is much more prominent and the lyrics are more intelligible, thanks both to Tomas learning how to sing fast but understandably since the first recording and no doubt some smart post polishing. Several of the other changes I have noticed (there are surely more):
- Riding the Fourth wave has a slower tempo at the beginning and since it is an instrumental, has the most musical changes
- Day In, Day Out (my top choice from the original album and one of my all-time top 10 songs) has an extra verse that includes the lines “And everybody’s talking about humility,(see)/indecency, (see)/smoke, and mirrors to me.”
- “Dear Sergio” has the lyrics and extra verse like the version recorded by BOTAR
Instead of the band’s thank-you’s, the end concluding track, “1234 1234” now has an obscured synthesized voice (think “Fitter Happier” amid loud music) explaining why the album was made. I have yet to locate a transcript of this online, probably because no one can hear all of the parts. The gist I can gather from several listenings is that the current Catch 22 band was going to re-release Keasbey sonically unchanged to make some easy dough. Tomas, as the computer voice says, offered to re-record it with them but they declined and so he went ahead and made this album, so fans would not be suckered into buying the same old album with a new cover. The computer voice also expresses regrets that due to budget reasons, they never got the first Keasbey to sound as nice as they wanted. As mentioned, that rawness turned into a strength, but it is obvious nonetheless.
Honestly, even if, as some pro-new-Catch22-losers have said, Streetlight made this for financial reasons, who can blame them? After they were robbed on their last European tour, they basically lost everything they had and went into deep debt.
When I first listened to this, I liked it but thought it just wasn’t the same, wasn’t the original. I had listened to the original so many times I knew every beat, every pause, and I didn’t like the changes. However, thirty or so listens later, I find myself choosing it over the original. My guess is because it’s new. I think in a few years when I have memorized this version to the same level as the original, I will probably prefer the original, albeit by a narrow margin.
Purists may always prefer the original, but at least they can admit this is a successful re-recording that doesn’t ruin it. It’s different, not worse. I definitely recommend this album to any Catch 22 or Streetlight fans as well as any young ska punks who have yet to hear of any of this great material.
Retail Price: $11 (Interpunk)
My Rating: $20
Priceless for Catch 22 fans and if you just returned from a 10 year expedition to Antarctica and don’t own the original then dare I blasphemously say it, maybe buy this first.