"Let's face it, most people who like the Gin Blossoms already own "New Miserable Experience". It's nice to get a remastered edition and there's a lot of that kind of (occasionally) necessary recycling going around. What is particularly valuable, and what gets fans (and casual listeners alike) to shell out more cash for something they already own is the addition of a bonus disc (of rarities, b-sides, alternate takes, etc.). And you certainly get that with this Deluxe Addition of NME. Recently (and thankfully), most bands (record labels) who've released remastered discs and who've had the kindness to release a bonus disc along with the remaster, have kept the price essentially the same as for one cd even though the customer is getting two (see for example Iron Maiden, Elvis Costello, or Marillion). This makes the decision pretty simple for the fan--snap up the remaster and give the original away. For some reason, A&M/Universal has decided to almost double the price for this Deluxe Edition. And that's what keeps this review at 3-stars instead of 4.NME in and of itself is a great cd with terrific rock-n-roll songs focusing on love lost, early adulthood, drinking, etc. The original version sounded great and this one is perhaps a small improvement upon that. Nevertheless, most folks will be picking this up for disc two. This two-cd set comes inclosed in a plastic slip cover with a cardboard/plastic combination fold out holding the two discs (pretty nice). It also comes with a 26-page booklet with NME lyrics (also included with the original release), a few new photographs (amusing concert t-shirts, single/EP sleeves, band, etc.), and recording date information. Nothing revelatory or historical is included.As for the disc 2 specifics: Disc 2 contains 22 tracks covering nearly 71 minutes. Most (if not all) of these tracks are fairly hard to locate and five are previously unreleased. They are also tracked in what's close to chronological order. For starters, you get three tracks (of the twelve) from their debut LP "Dusted" (the entire album is currently available at amazon.com and elsewhere). You can recognize the band in nascent form, but their signature sound is certainly not present at this time. Next, you get three tracks (of the five) from the "Up and Crumbling" EP (currently out of print) including the excellent 'Keli Richards'. The majority of songs from these two releases not included here are songs that later appeared on NME. Next, is an NME album outtake--the fast-tempo, driving "Blue Eyes Bleeding". It's a decent song, but not up to par with the rest of NME. The next five tracks (four plus an outtake) are from the 1993 EP "Shut Up and Smoke" (also out of print). These are pretty decent tracks with 'Soul Deep' and 'Christine Irene' being the highlights. The outtake, 'Number One' is ridiculously similar to 'La Bamba' and probably should've remained an outtake. The Rare and Live tracks portion of disc 2 features three great rare tracks and six live tracks from a previously released import (with the exception of the mildly amusing "Jeffersons" theme song, 'Movin' On Up'). 'Idiot Summer' is fairly well known from the Wayne's World Soundtrack (and also the "Follow You Down" cd-single) and is one of the band's best songs. 'Back of a Car' is not particularly memorable, but the remix of 'Allison Road' is terrific. The live tracks are also pretty good and well-chosen. If nothing more, they show the energy of the band during a live show. The disc closes with the previously unreleased alternate "piano ending" version of 'Pieces of the Night'. This version is essentially identical to the album version with the exception of about 30 seconds of piano coda at the end.All in all, there's a lot to recommend on this disc but nothing revelatory or truly spectacular. It's a shame they left off the terrific 'Seeing Stars' from the "Follow You Down" cd-single (still available). And it's a bigger shame the price tag is not closer to that of a single disc. Recommended with reservations."
Stunning major label debut
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 01/08/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What made NME special was the edge in Doug Hopkins' songs. Even those songs he didn't pen seemed to have it (perhaps due to the competitiveness of the band members). Like Jellyfish, the Gin Blossoms produced a small body of work but what they did produce is quite impressive. Although more commerical sounding than their debut Dusted, NME benefits from the expanded sound of the band. This special edition is worthwhile for fans of the band as it includes a bonus disc with three key tracks from Dusted, the Up and Crumbling EP as well as live and studio tracks that have been difficult to acquire. I was a bit disappointed with the packaging. The enclosed booklet has some nice tour t-shirt photos and all the lyrics but no comments on the difficulty in making the album. One positive note is the inclusion of a photo and dedication to Doug Hopkins. I realize that much has been made of Hopkins' songwriting and the difficult circumstances of his firing by the other band members, but it would have been interesting to read a bit about the making of the album. Additionally, full album credits as to who plays what on which tracks would have been nice as well.Unlike the recent Elvis Costello reissues, this edition of NME is priced at a premium. The 24 bit remastered sound improves the fidelity of the album. I did note on the edition I purchased a flaw on one of the live tracks where it momentarily skips. It appears to be a manufacturing error."
A Masterpiece Turns Ten
D. Mok | 10/19/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As a fan who discovered the Gin Blossoms when this album was still barely registering on the Billboard charts, it was with great satisfaction I'd eventually see millions of others discover this album in its initial release. Every song on the original release is a masterpiece, and they're all remastered on this album, with the sound channels re-aligned to reflect the way they were supposed to be. This is "New Miserable Experience" as you've never heard it before on the first disc. Disc Two is for fans of the Gin Blossoms to discover rarities, live tracks, unreleased takes and so on. With 25 tracks, the second disc is full of discoveries for most fans, featuring mostly material from the years prior to the album's initial release, and while the band was touring supporting it. The material is vast, from "Movin' On Up," (yes, THAT "Movin' On Up") to an alternate take of "Pieces of the Night" with a very touching piano close.
Don't balk at the price. This is truly worth it, because between the second disc and the fresh new sound to the main album, fans will be pleased they spent their money on this release. The mere fact that this Deluxe Anniversary Edition was released only goes to underscore what a brilliant album the Gin Blossoms turned out. It's been ten years since its initial release, but New Miserable Experience will live on forever, as long as people continue to make mistakes as they stumble through life, and discover these songs that tell those stories."
Near-perfect record, an unsung classic.
D. Mok | Los Angeles, CA | 02/16/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"At a certain point in the '90s, critics began using the very band name 'Gin Blossoms' as a derogatory tag to any jangly, pop-heavy band perceived as being lacking in rock and roll edge.
It's a howling injustice, because New Miserable Experience is simply one of the best records of the '90s, holding up even after endless repeat runs, meritorious in all fields -- songwriting, performance, and recording.
Much has been said already about the suicide of first guitarist and chief songwriter Doug Hopkins, and in this case the cliche is mostly true -- Hopkins was the songwriting genius of this band. His work was like the crystallization of Big Star's Alex Chilton and Chris Bell -- Hopkins' songwriting had the rock edge and ragged charm of Chilton, but also the sensitivity and soul of Bell,
A trio of killer songs -- "Lost Horizons", "Found Out about You" and radio favourite "Hey Jealousy", all written solely by Hopkins -- confirms this. "Hey Jealousy" was known as the radio hit that wouldn't die; while it never made it into the Top 20, it lasted so long on the radio charts that Billboard magazine ran an article on the longevity of the song on the airwaves. And listening to it now, it remains what it always was, a blast of perfect pop-rock guaranteed to win over any audience. The moody "Found Out about You" was the breakthrough that had sent this album into double-platinum territory, and it remains unique, taking elements of R.E.M. ,The Byrds, and Big Star into a shimmering, unforgettable pop single. And "Lost Horizons" utilizes a Hopkins trademark -- down-and-out sentiments set to a bright set of melodies and flowing lyrics ("Turn summer trees to bones and ice/Turn insect songs against the night...").
Lead singer Robin Wilson was a secret weapon, one of the sexiest and most melodic singers of the '90s college pop scene, with his wistful vibrato and exuberant phrasing. And while both Wilson and guitarist Jesse Valenzuela's songwriting would deteriorate on Gin Blossoms' next record Congratulations I'm Sorry, here their contributions are impressive: "Until I Fall Away" is a dreamy and soulful ballad, "Mrs. Rita" is spritely fun, and "Hold Me Down" features an engaging, observant lyric with one of the best uptempo backing tracks this band has ever cooked up.
This band would eventually be known as something of a one-hit wonder , and with some reason, because it would only produce two more good songs after New Miserable Experience -- "'Til I Hear It from You" (from the Empire Records soundtrack) and "Follow You Down". However, that doesn't make New Miserable Experience any less great a record. I know that many of my friends and I during our college years literally worshipped this record, learning the songs on guitar and singing along, and it's still one of those rare records you can put on without ever skipping songs around.
This "special edition" doesn't greatly increase buying incentive -- the additional materials are unimpressive. The live tracks aren't anything special, with muddy recording low on guitars and vocals; Wilson sounds great in the studio but sounds like an out-of-breath Richard Marx on the live recordings! The cover of "Folsom Prison Blues" is limp, and the additional songs not really up to the standards of the regular songs from the album. I'd say unless you're a die-hard Gin Blossoms fan, buying the single-disc regular edition of this album would be enough. I love this band, but even I thought this package was unnecessary."
Improving on a Classic
A. Reader | Northwest Arkansas | 06/17/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
""New Miserable Experience" is one of my all-time favorite albums. I purchased this version because I'd lost the original version and decided to take a chance on the bonus CD. It was well worth the investment. The mix of earlier recordings, alternative mixes, unreleased material and live versions has become another of my faves. If you like the Gin Blossoms' sound, I'd definitely recommend buying the deluxe version of this classic. The GBs didn't leave a very extensive legacy of recordings (although I understand their first new album in years is due out in August) so unlike with many bands that release compilations like this bonus CD, this one doesn't suffer by comparison to other releases."