Mogwai – Mogwai Young Team (remastered)
Stuart Braithwaite once commented upon his band’s debut full-length release that “The album was a total disaster. We were young and naïve and had too little time.” Critics and fans have tended to be somewhat kinder. Indeed there are many who consider Mogwai Young Team to be the bands finest release. Ten years hence the album is getting a re-release, re-mastered and with extra bells and whistles in the shape of a disc of bonus material.
Upon re-assessing the album I can say that Stuart Braithwaite, for once, is wrong. The album was (and remains) magnificent and brilliant, coruscating and angry. That’s not to say that record doesn’t have it’s flaws. The shorter pieces such as With Portfolio and Radar Maker feel like unnecessary filler. Rather more damagingly, the original album suffered from a mix that was far too quiet for the massive sound that Mogwai sought to produce.
That latter issue has been fixed by the re-mastering. The effects are noticeably right away: opener Yes! I am a Long Way from Home is revitalised and I can hear depth and detail that I never noticed before. This is evident right through the album. The textures and dynamics of the piece are revealed in all their glory.
And what glories. Like Herod is a fearsome evil and angry blast that probably best encapsulates the ‘quiet/loud’ dynamic that Mogwai are most noted for. Mogwai Fear Satan is a behemoth that bludgeons the listener into submission through sheer brilliance, it’s huge riffs anchored by a hypnotically brilliant drum pattern. Meanwhile R U Still Into It with a vocal from arch miserabalist Aiden Moffat remains probably the band’s most emotionally wrenching track – its lyrics heart-achingly brutal in their straight-forward honesty .
The bonus disc is superb, including four tracks not on the original album (including an interesting reading of Spacemen 3’s Honey. What is particularly worthwile are the five live tracks. Showing not only how damn good the band can be when performing at their peak, but just how ear-splittingly, thrillingly and astoundingly loud they can be. Even though the version of Mogwai Feat Satan is a good five minutes shorter than the sixteen minute epic that closes the album proper, it is still massive and magnificent.
A brilliant album just got better.