We haven’t heard a new album from Samiam in 5 years. However, in 2010, they did release a rarities collection of outtakes, radio performances, and live recordings. Even some covers recorded in Billie Joe Armstrong’s basement made it onto this compilation. Orphan works pulls from 6 years of material during the band's Clumsy and You Are Freaking Me Out eras, and it really spills over a bag full of gems.
The first half of Orphan Works focuses on the Clumsy era line-up. The first three tracks—“Ain’t No Size That Small,” “Capsized,” and “Regret”—all come from a live session they had with Brave New Radio in 1994. Jason Beebout gave a performance that’s even more desperate sounding that the album version. His vocals define emotion and the acoustics of the studio only enhance that feeling. The next four songs were recorded in 1996 on Radio Asylum. While two of the songs come from Clumsy, a third comes from You Are Freaking Me Out. It’s an earlier version of “My Convenience.” Not much changed once they recorded it for the album. This live take contains a different intro, but other than that—it’s the same with heavier sounding guitar work. The final track from that session is “Don’t Break Me,” from their third album Billy. They close off the Clumsy era with a slightly different version of “Mr. Walker” and a bass driven b-side entitled, “I Want More.”
They kick off the second half of the collection with two covers. The now, You Are Freaking Me Out, era line-up takes a crack at a cover of The Pixies’, “Here Comes Your Man” and The Stooges’, “Search and Destroy.” Both of these covers were recorded in Billie Joe Armstrong’s basement in 1998. Neither cover really add anything unique to the originals. The Pixies cover has a more pop-punk feel to it, but that’s about it. The remainder of the compilation is live tracks from a show in Germany. “Stepson” makes a second appearance on this comp, while the rest of the tracks come from every part of their catalog up to that point—including a couple from their self-titled debut album. The sound quality of these live performances are grade-A and the mixing is swell. If you’re not a fan of banter, you’ll be pleased to know there really isn’t any across the seven songs.
It’s a great group of songs, but if you’re already a Samiam fan, you can probably skip this. While we wait for another Samiam record, I would suggest picking up Orphan Works for someone or recommending it to anyone that’s trying to get into the band, because it does harbor some great tracks that are sure to get anyone hooked and wanting more.
7.5 / 10
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