Reviews

Therapy?, Greatest Hits (The Abbey Road Session) (Marshall Records, 2020)

For the uninitiated, Therapy? is an Irish band that has been around since 1989, releasing 15 studio albums (!) along the way. 

Now, classifying Therapy? into some kind of musical genre isn't an easy task. The trio incorporates a gumbo of musical styles into their songwriting and arrangements, picking up new influences throughout their discography. Melodic punk, AmRep-styled noise rock, metal, stadium-ready rock... it's all for the taking in Therapy? World.

Greatest Hits (The Abbey Road Session) finds the band taking 12 of their Top 40 UK singles, and then tracking them in the hallowed British record studio with producer Chris Sheldon, someone they've collaborated with several times throughout their career.

"We’re proud of these songs and are excited by how fresh they still sound today," said Therapy? guitarist/vocalist Andy Cairns about the project. He's right.

Evidence of this can be found on the Greatest Hits version of "Die Laughing," a track that originally appeard on 1994's Troublegum album, the trio's commercial breakthrough. The new version features Manic Street Preachers' vocalist/guitarist James Dean Bradfield joining Andy in the recording booth, harmonizing like two old pals. The Preacher also brought his guitar along for the session.

Therapy? doesn't mess with the arrangement all that much, but what stood out to my ears is how "current" the song sounds today, 26 years after the OG version first appeared.

Speaking of Troublegum, that record begat the biggest song in the Therapy? catalog—at least here in the States—in the form of "Screamager," an irresistible sugar rush of a single that imagines the Buzzcocks if they were raised on a steady diet of Helmet. Yeah, "Screamager" is included on Greatest Hits and its stripped-down take is as catchy as the Troublegum one, but Andy's performance packs more grit in the singing department. 

The years of wear and tear on the road have only strengthened his delivery, and Andy's vocals are every bit as dynamic and unique as they've ever been.

Elsewhere, tracks like "Teethgrinder" (from 1992's Nurse), "Loose" (from 1995's Infernal Love), and "Church of Noise" (from 1998's Semi-Detached) all show up to the celebration in fine form(s). The latter benefits greatly from the new kick in the ass, showcasing the main guitar in a grittier light than the 1998 version.

Written by Hüsker Dü drummer Grant Hart for that band's Metal Circus EP in 1983, "Diane" was covered by Therapy? for the first time on their Infernal Love LP. That version of the cover is adorned with a string section and multi-layered background vocals, but for the Greatest Hits take, the Irish 3-piece keep it closer to the Hüsker Dü arrangement, taking out all of the bells and whistles of their Infernal Love interpretation. I gotta say that I prefer the new/old "Diane" that shows up on this compilation over the chart hit they originally released all those years ago.

Photo: Tom Hoad

Greatest Hits ends with the melancholic (at least in punk terms) "Lonely, Cryin', Only," a song that Therapy? originally cut on their Semi-Detached record. It again reminded me why I've always flown the band's flag whenever given the chance.

If you slept on Therapy? for all these years, here's a collection that should help you become a fellow devotee of the trio.

Get It

Tagged: therapy

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