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Then: The Earlier Years
They Might Be Giants
Then: The Earlier Years
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
  •  Track Listings (34) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (35) - Disc #2

Before they became a successful major-label act, New York smart-guy popsters John Flansburgh and John Linnell started out as a resourceful do-it-yourself duo, recording their wacky ditties at home and making them available...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: They Might Be Giants
Title: Then: The Earlier Years
Members Wishing: 2
Total Copies: 0
Label: Restless Records
Original Release Date: 3/25/1997
Release Date: 3/25/1997
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
Style: Vocal Pop
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPC: 018777293129

Before they became a successful major-label act, New York smart-guy popsters John Flansburgh and John Linnell started out as a resourceful do-it-yourself duo, recording their wacky ditties at home and making them available to the public via their Dial-A-Song hotline. That playful, resourceful spirit is the order of the day on this 2 CD, 72-song compilation, which incorporates the contents of the early TMBG albums They Might Be Giants, Lincoln, and Miscellaneous T, plus a passel of previously unreleased oddities and some droll liner notes written by the artists. The wildly eclectic yet consistently accessible material (including the early hits "Don't Let's Start" and "Ana Ng") still sounds fresh and inventive, embodying the pair's trademark blend of smarts and silliness. --Scott Schinder

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CD Reviews

The ultimate collection (but not the penultimate)
Nathan M DeHoff | Absurd City | 12/14/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This album contains all of They Might Be Giants' first two albums, the self-titled one (sometimes called "the pink album") and Lincoln, as well as every song on Miscellaneous T (except for the single mix of "Hotel Detective"), and several bonus tracks. While I like almost all TMBG, there is a charm to this early stuff, with its emphasis on synthesizers, drum machines, samples, unusual instruments, and odd lyrics, that the band has never really reproduced. The first album has a haunting sound to many of its songs, and includes such TMBG classics as "Don't Let's Start" and "She's An Angel." Lincoln is my favorite TMBG album, with quite possibly the best running order of any of their albums, and more great songs than you could shake a stick (that big one they use for live performances of "Lie Still, Little Bottle," perhaps?) at. As for the EP B-sides, some of them were obviously B-sides for a reason ("Mr. Klaw," for instance), while others meet and even surpass the quality of album tracks. "It's Not My Birthday," for example, is one of my favorite TMBG songs. As for the previously unreleased tracks that found a home on this collection, well, many of them have a "for completists" only kind of feel to them. That's not to say that they're bad; such tracks as "Weep Day," and "Now That I Have Everything" are good songs, despite their low production value. There's not that much to many of them, though, and, since they're the only things that a person who already owns the pink album, Lincoln, and Miscellaneous T would really get from buying this, that might be a reason not to get it if you already have those albums. If you DON'T have those albums, though, and you're a fan of the band, get this! You'll save money, and have all of it in one handy package."
Comprehensive review of early career is great
John M. Thompson | Albuquerque, New Mexico | 07/01/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"If you like They Might Be Giants at all, this is well worth the investment as a glance into their storied past before they achieved moderate video airplay with "Birdhouse in Your Soul" from 1990's _Flood_.It's not for everyone, necessarily - lyrics don't get more whimsical than wondering about whether angels congregate on the head of a pin to discuss you in pleasant terms, followed immediately by an aside about their space program. In addition, you can hear them learning about the recording process as the tracks progress; meaning, that if made-by-hand production values do not satisfy your expectations as a consumer, then leave this alone. Bob Clearmountain and Daniel Lanois need not fear for their reputations as engineers in the presence of Johns Linnell and Flansburgh.If you're reading a review for anything by They Might Be Giants, you are probably at peace enough with your inner geek to disregard the cautionary statements listed above. You certainly won't find the first two albums and the unreleased material anywhere else at this price. If you're a novitiate to the wonder of the Giants, start first with their best and most accessible record, _Flood_."
They ARE Giants!
C. S. Bloedorn | 03/27/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Possibly the best CD you have ever bought! While not everyone's cup of tea, TMBG is one of the funniest and smartest bands in existence, and recieve far less attention than they deserve. (of course, if they actually released a new album...) "Then" is a must have collection, even if you own the three albums included on it. I would have gladly handed over twenty dollars for 'Greek #3' and 'Become a robot' the inclusion of For Science, Absolutely Bill's Mood, and track #23 (a recording left on their Dial-A-Song service by a bewildered lady wondering how they make any money) along with all of the other songs (not a dud in this bunch!) make this the best Two CD set with pictures of whales on them that you will ever buy! Other reccomendations: Cake, The Muppets: Unpigged, and your Uncle Pat, all hopped up on happy juice."