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Album reviews: Bruce Springsteen and The Grip Weeds

By Jon Dawson / Columnist
Published: Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 10:51 AM.

Classic album: Inner Grooves

Artist: The Grip Weeds

Label: Ground Up

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

When rarities albums are done right - such as The Who's "Odds and Sods" or Bruce Springsteen's "Tracks" - they are sometimes deemed as important as the main albums in an artist's canon. The new Grip Weeds collection "Inner Grooves" is one of those collections.

The Grip Weeds started issuing full albums with 1994's "House Of Vibes", and have gone on to release a total of six highly acclaimed studio LPs and the blistering live set "Speed Of Live". Factoring in additional songs released on various compilations and tunes that for whatever reason weren't released on albums, the Grip Weeds found themselves sitting on a small mountain of unreleased and rare tracks.

For those of you who routinely lurk around the internet looking for rare rock and roll gems, "Inner Grooves" is a welcome respite."Rainy Day #1 & 2" - originally released on the now out of print "Pop 2K" compilation and once performed live by the Grip Weeds on BBC Radio - busts the album in a powerful, uplifting manner. "Nothing Lasts" was originally recorded for the mammoth double album "Strange Change Machine", but it serves as a sterling example of how the Grip Weeds have been able to move forward artistically without losing site of what makes the band special.

While the Grip Weeds have been hailed as a musical powerhouse from their inception, they also whip out the best harmonies of any band working today. The soaring, syrup-free harmonies on the Little Steven-commissioned acoustic version of "Every Minute" update the templates set by the Everly Brothers and Crosby, Stills and Nash. But, just when the Grip Weeds have soothed you into a false sense of serenity, the rare B-side "It'll Never Be Me" sashays in on a groove that could get even the staunchest wallflower out on the dance floor.

Guitarists/vocalists Kristin Pinell and Rick Reil prove themselves to be the most formidable string-bending duo in the business on the surging "In Waking Dreams". There is immense power in Pinell and Reil's guitar work, but also a healthy dose of finesse. Drummer/vocalist Kurt Reil is masterful at playing for the song, with enough air-drum worthy outbursts to make any stick fiend sore by just listening.

Although "Inner Grooves" is a compilation of rarities, there is a cohesion in its presentation. Even with the changes in songwriting and execution that naturally occur, there is a common thread that pulls all of the diverse strands of the Grip Weeds together.