Reviews Against Me! The Original Cowboy

Against Me!

The Original Cowboy

I feel a bit silly for reviewing this since it's basically just the original versions of songs from my favorite Against Me! album, As the Eternal Cowboy, but I thought it would be interesting to hear rougher versions of songs on that album to see how different they are from the final product. The Original Cowboy was recorded before they left for the studio to record the follow-up to Reinventing Axl Rose in order to give the producer a taste of what to expect when working with the band. Frontman Tom Gabel says "listening to it [The Original Cowboy] today, part of me feels foolish for ever recording these songs a second time" but now, thanks to Fat Wreck Chords, everyone can hear Against Me!'s second album in it's true form.

The Original Cowboy isn't terribly different from it's finished version. It's got all of the songs minus "Sink Florida Sink" and they're arranged in another order. "A Brief Yet Triumphant Intermission" becomes an introduction and leads directly into "Cliche Guevara," which actually flows perfectly. It's a little odd "TSR" isn't followed by the opening chords of "Cliche Guevara" and for "Cavalier Eternal" to be sitting in the middle rather than closing the album but things do flow very well on The Original Cowboy and hearing these tracks with a more raw flavor to them was really nice. There's also an electric version of "Unsubstantiated Rumors?," which is similar to the version that is on the Sink, Florida, Sink 7".

Those who were turned off by the glossier production of As the Eternal Cowboy may prefer this version over it. That's not to say that the final product was an overproduced mess, but the listeners who preferred the more raw, aggressive sounding Against Me! may prefer this version over it. The combination of songs "You Look Like I Need a Drink / Turn Those Clapping Hands into Angry Balled Fists" sound even better in their original form, and a lot more natural at that. The more stripped down versions of "TSR" and "Mutiny on the Electric Bay" also sound a lot stronger than their final versions.

If The Original Cowboy was released in 2003, would there be less backlash and criticism directed towards the band at the time? Who knows. I can definitely say that this sounds like a much more natural progression from Reinventing Axl Rose but imagine if Searching for a Former Clarity being released directly after The Original Cowboy...yikes. Guess in the end, it was good that As the Eternal Cowboy was released when it was and it's still a fantastic album but it's great that the band finally let these demos see the light of day since they're definitely worth hearing. It's up to you whether or not you want to spend your eight bucks on it.

8.0 / 10Corey S.
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