Marcy Playground - Lunch, Recess and Detention
Record Label: Capitol/EMI/Woz Records
Release Date: June 26, 2012
In the annals of rock music, the New York City trio Marcy Playground will forever be remembered for their ubiquitous 1997 single "Sex and Candy." And while that's probably a fair way to remember the group, the fact of the matter is, there's a lot more to the band than that misleading single. As 2009's Leaving Wonderland in a Fit of Rage proved, the group was adept at creating radio-ready alternative rock and had a firm grasp on how to write first-rate rock songs. The latest effort to bolster that credential is this year's b-sides compilation Lunch, Recess and Detention (L,R and D). Comprised of b-sides, singles and covers, the disc is a comprehensive look at one of rock music's more underrated outfits.
The most immediate and attention-grabbing cuts on L,R and D are the covers. Frontman, founder and principal songwriter John Wozniak sounds near-perfect on a gauzy and air-tight cover of Procol Harum's "Whiter Shade of Pale,." Though it isn't all that different from the original, the rendition is enough to stand out and leave quite an impression. Equally as strong is the group's version of Leonard Cohen's much-covered "Hallelujah." While there are plenty of first-rate covers of said song, this version certainly has to enter into the equation. And lastly, and perhaps the best of the three is Wozniak's version of Neil Young's "The Needle and the Damage Done."
But, L, R and D is not solely a covers album. At 19 songs, it is actually more of a b-sides album than anything. And sure enough, there are quite a many b-sides. Of the 16, the most indelible are album opener "Shapeshifter," a splintery, multi-faceted slice of alt. rock that proves to be brawny, brash and nothing short of brilliant. For those that want more cuts like that, there's the dynamic lead single "Mr. Fisher" and the sweetly affecting "Brand New Day." Never one to back down from a challenge, L, R and D, also includes the swampy "Bye Bye," and the drug-induced cuts "Crazy Katy Nicotine and Her Red Jet Air Balloon," and "The Ballad of Aslan."
When all is said and done, Lunch, Recess and Detention is a sterling example of the understated power of one of rock music's most oft-overlooked outfits. Though it certainly could have been far more concise, Lunch Recess and Detention is another winning effort to add to an already impressive and all-too important discography. Sure they may never have another "Sex and Candy," and they probably won't scale the Billboard charts again, but with Lunch, Recess and Detention, Marcy Playground prove, that when they want to be, they're just about as good as anybody else out there.