The Doves: The Places Between; The Best of the Doves (EMI CD/DVD)

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The Doves: Blue Water
The Doves: The Places Between; The Best of the Doves (EMI CD/DVD)

This alt.rock English outfit -- here wrapping up their first decade with a double CD and DVD set -- are one of those bands which people feel passionately about (one of my sons) or just let go right on by.

They were nominated for the Mercury Award for both of their first two albums (Lost Souls in 2000, the even better The Last Broadcast two years later) and since then they have continued to make intelligent, mini-epic drone'n'drama guitar rock which is heavy on atmosphere but sometimes rather lacking in differentiated passion on the part of frontman Jez Williams.

Like Radiohead (before "the change"), the Doves also have some expansive, prog-rock tendencies (M62 Song on The Last Broadcast and included here drew on King Crimson's Moonchild -- and was credited), but they also hit that territory occupied by a rather more moody/broody Coldplay or Arcade Fire. It can be dark, throbby and engrossing stuff.

They also morphed (and again credited) Warren Zevon's Werewolves of London for Hit the Ground Running (not on this collection). These aren't the only credited appropriations -- and you'd be forgiven for hearing a little of early The The in places.

But most bands make such references and you can't take anything away from the Doves for their heroic, sonic architecture and layering of sounds even if you might feel a little disengaged by some of it. 

At 34 tracks (and a 13 clip collection of their always classy videos on the DVD) this is a lot of non-chronological Doves, The first disc is album tracks, the second a collection of B-sides, alternate versions, demos and rarities.

So perhaps this expanded edition of the single dsic version meets two needs: fans who want those oddities and alternate versions, and those who want to do their homework on a band which really does inspire deep passions.

One to be sampled judiciously if you are newcomer -- but the terrific DVD of film-quality clips is the way in. 

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