Toronto Star June 22, 1996
Pop Reviews
by Peter Howell


Rarities, B-Sides And Other Stuff (Nettwerk)

It's a measure of great recording artists when even their experiments and second guesses rate a listen.

As its title says, Sarah McLachlan's new album (out Tuesday) is not a brand-new collection of the Vancouver singer-songwriter's work. However, for most people, especially those who buy only her albums and not her singles, this can be considered the next best thing to a new McLachlan studio album. Only the most ardent fan would already have all 13 songs.

In her eight-year career, McLachlan has always used non-album tracks as the B-sides of her CD singles. These have added up and five of the best are included here: her live cover of Billie Holiday's "Gloomy Sunday," her studio cover of Joni Mitchell's "Blue," the extended remixes of "Vox" and "Into The Fire" and the violin mix of "Shelter."

There are three movie soundtrack offerings: "I Will Remember You," from The Brothers McMullen; a cover of Gordon Lightfoot's "Song For A Winter's Night," from Miracle on 34th Street; and "Full of Grace", from the coming Moll Flanders movie (it also was on the recent Nettwerk 10th anniversary boxed set, Decadence).

Two well-known songs, "Fear" and "Possession," are dance treatments by Florida remixers Rabbit In The Moon that were previously available only to North American DJs on white-label vinyl.

There's one tribute album contribution, a cover of XTC's "Dear God" from 1995's A Testimonial Dinner: The Songs of XTC.

Another single track is a live version of "Drawn To The Rhythm," from a 1992 Toronto concert, previously available on her now-deleted Live EP.

But perhaps the rarest track, and the one that qualifies as a game-winning question for Trivial Pursuit, is "As The End Draws Near," by Manufacture, a former Nettwerk industrial act. McLachlan contributed both her voice and her lyrics to this 1989 song.

The album amply demonstrates how McLachlan can wrap her bell-clear voice around a variety of songs, making them her own.

But the track sequencing is impressive in its own right: This works as an album, not just a collection of singles. If no one told you, you'd have no reason to think this is a collection of eight years' worth of loose tracks. There's a bonus for multimedia freaks. The album is Cd-ROM enhanced, offering both a full career discography and a video of McLachlan singing "I Will Remember You," although accessing them can be a headache.

More than just leftovers, these killer "Bs" rate an "A".

(Hear "As The End Draws Near" on StarPhone; 350-3000, category 2005.)

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