The third album from Therapy?, the seminal ‘Troublegum’, originally came out in a very different time to now. A time when bands released singles on several formats, aimed at getting in the charts and, of course, a spot on Top Of The Pops. A time that gave some rock and even a few metal bands national primetime TV exposure that is unthinkable nowadays. Now, to mark the twentieth anniversary of its release the band have released a three-disc deluxe edition of the album stuffed with extras. As much as I love the music, one thing I always admired about the band was the amount of EPs with non-album and previously unreleased material that was included on them, making almost every release an essential purchase.
Disc one is the remastered album. The Chris Sheldon production still sounds as spiky, angry and raw as it did back then, maybe just cleaned up a little bit and through my speakers, it seems a little louder than the original CD. The three featured singles – ‘Nowhere’, ‘Trigger Inside’ and ‘Die Laughing’ – all placed well in the UK charts (#18, #22 & #29 respectively) and managed to combine a perfect mixture of fast short punky tracks, beefed-up metal riffs and also enough melody to help break the band into the mainstream. The angst-ridden lyrics haven’t aged at all and still seem as powerful and edgy as they did to the 18 year-old me. The classic three-piece line up of Andy Cairns, Fyfe Ewing and Michael McKeegan are here and it features some fine guest appearances from Lesley Rankine of Silverfish (on ‘Lunacy Booth’) and singer/songwriter Eileen Rose (on ‘Femtex’) providing vocals, as well as Page Hamilton of Helmet (lead guitar on ‘Unbeliever’). This album also saw the debut of Martin McCarrick playing cello on ‘Unrequited’. He later joined as a full-time member and stayed in the band until 2004.
The rest of this release concentrates on the time surrounding this album, pulling together all of the EPs released before through to all the singles released in support of the album. Disc two concentrates on the B-sides from the different formats of the three singles. This means the bands classic version of Judas Priest’s ‘Breaking the Law’ sees the light of day, along with a raft of remixes from the likes of Consolidated, Sabres of Paradise and David Holmes. Disc three largely covers the EPs released in the run up to the album. The “ShortSharpShock” release featured two previously unreleased tracks and a re-recorded version of ‘Accelerator# (reaching a career high #9 in the UK charts), and “Face The Strange” similarly included two new tracks and a new version of ‘Neck Freak’. It also includes the live “Opal Mantra” EP and four previously unreleased demos of ‘Totally Random Man’, ‘Turn’, Knives’ and ‘Unbeliever’.
I can’t think of a single downside to this release. I rarely bother with reissues unless they are something pretty special, and this is exactly that. What could have been a simple cash-in is instead a thorough documenting of two years in the life of one of Northern Ireland’s best exports.