Dave Matthews Band

Updated June 26, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

Busted Stuff

  • RCA

When the Dave Matthews Band shelved their sessions with producer Steve Lillywhite a couple of years back, the recordings took on a mythical status. Now, just when it seemed like the often-bootlegged material might never surface commercially, Matthews and his mates have revisited and reworked nine of the songs. They're the heart and soul of Busted Stuff, a superb album that vindicates the songwriter and his fans.

Matthews always insisted that the Lillywhite material was unfinished and he compared hearing it on the Internet to “a painter finding his painting for sale in a gallery before he's finished it. It was a huge violation.”

So he made the best of the finishing process. And while the songs on Busted Stuff might be slightly slicker—a filthy word in the minds of many music fans—than the originals, they've also got a more potent punch. The rhythms are crisper and Mathews' vocals in particular are far more earnest.

But his fans are vindicated too, because it was the fans all along who insisted that the unreleased songs were some of the best of Matthews' career. And they were right, whether one is listening to the “Lillywhite” bootleg versions or those on Busted Stuff.

Tracks like “Grey Street, ”the heart-tugging ballad “Grace Is Gone,” and the long and lyrically fascinating “Bartender” sizzle with sharp, syncopated rhythms, acoustic guitar flourishes, breezy sax, and violin, all spinning seamlessly.

Busted Stuff does include a couple of brand new songs and they're as solid as the rest of the set. The acoustic first single, “Where Are You Going,” is a pleasant enough, straight-ahead love song. But it's the other new track, “You Never Know,” that is the real diamond here. A contemplation of life, death, and the great beyond—with the focus on making the most of every moment—it's punctuated by Matthews' lines like “Don't lose the dreams inside you're head, they'll only be there 'til you're dead,” and “Every day should be a good day to die.”

The CD is packaged with a bonus DVD, which includes live versions of “When the World Ends” and “Bartender,” recorded last July in Boulder, Colo. In a smart marketing move to offset the downloaders of the world, the DVD contains an exclusive Internet key which provides access to a special DMB website, which promises to be filled with exclusive content throughout the next year.

Kevin O'Hare

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