Last of Alanis’ albums to review is the 10th anniversary acoustic version of Jagged Little Pill. Sounds pretty straightforward doesn’t it? After all I LOVED Jagged Little Pill, even moreso with my latest run-through of it, and the songs are pretty amazing, even 15 years later.
Except something really just doesn’t work for me, and makes me wonder why this even happened. Was it just to fulfil contractual obligations? That would explain the totally useless non-Greatest-Hits “The Collection” that arrived later that year. Either way, here we are. I’m not going track-by-track over the songs I’ve already done, just so you know.
I think my main issue is that the original album was such a one-off. The songs balanced brilliantly between being commercially appealing whilst still being passionate and individual. This return to those songs doesn’t improve on any of them, in fact just makes them blander shadows of the originals without any of the fire. You Oughta Know in particular just feels totally castrated, and without wanting to loon up too much, it just feels sacrilegious and totally at odds with the spirit of the song. She doesn’t sound angry at all, it’s just going through the motions.
In the ten years, Alanis has developed and mellowed out, I think that much is clear from Under Rug Swept (and later Flavors of Entanglement). I would be happy to hear her singing these songs on tour, or even on the Unplugged CD as that felt more like an interim Greatest Hits while she worked out the sort of artist she was going to be after all these millions of sales. But this just feels like a covers album somehow.
Not that I’ve ever been against covers, I’m usually all for them. But for once I feel like people do when their favourite songs are picked as an X-Factor single or blanded over by Westlife etc. But this has the added indignance that it’s done by the original artist! I wonder if fans of Cyndi Lauper and the other artist doing these sort of albums felt the same about those releases?
Sorry this is turning into a bit of a rant isn’t it?
Anyway, I’m sorry if anyone likes this and feels disappointed by my review of it, but it just feels like a total misfire to me. The only parts that work for me are the bits where it pretty much sounds like the original (see Mary Jane for example). Of course they did make one notable change, i.e. in Ironic she meets the man of her dreams and his beautiful … HUSBAND *pauses for knowing chuckle from audience*. *klunk*. Not The Doctor sounds pretty awful, the verses seem to be in the wrong key, what the hell?
Oh and horror of horrors they’ve even fucked around with psycho-favourite hidden track Your House which gets promoted to a full track this time around (finally a good choice). When I first heard it I thought maybe they’d re-done it as a happy ending, the arrangement is a lot more warm (well there IS an arrangement this time), and it all sounds quite lovely. I sort of expected that in a twist the letter she finds will be from him to her or something, and it’s not that horrible “OMG he loves someone else” moment from the original (that made it amazing). But no, it’s just the same song given an arrangement that doesn’t seem to pay attention to the heartbreak going on. It just feels misjudged and totally ruins the song. I feel like whoever produced this just didn’t understand this song at all. BUT IT’S THE ORIGINAL PRODUCER!! The mind boggles.
So these are the reasons why I just don’t get or enjoy this album. Bland AT BEST, and disrespectful at worst. It goes without saying I’m not keeping any of this on my iPod.