For a good portion of American kids in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s, the magnetic draw towards loud guitars didn’t come from thrash metal, hardcore or “grunge,” but rather the sound of the British shoegaze movement and its enigmatic swirl of sweetness, psychedelia and searing walls of amp fuzz.
However, this generous 87-track box set that chronicles the roots and rise of shoegaze not only features the cream of the scene in the U.K., but the most talented acolytes from the USA as well. And it’s deep, too. Pretty much every act you’d want to see represented on a shoegaze box set is present and accounted for, and the list goes on for miles. The Jesus & Mary Chain. The Cocteau Twins. Ultra Vivid Scene. Spacemen 3. Galaxie 500. The Boo Radleys. Ride. Lush. Slowdive. Spiritualized. The Flaming Lips. Mercury Rev. Luna! And that’s just the bands whose names the general public has a sporting shot of recognizing.
From the perspective of a well-schooled shoegaze fiend, Still In A Dream is indeed on par with Lenny Kaye’s Nuggets and Brian Eno’s No New York as a definitive anthology of a movement. Names like The House of Love, A.R. Kane, 14 Iced Bears, Loop, Pale Saints, Flying Saucer Attack, The Darkside, Catherine Wheel, Chapterhouse, Black Tambourine, Smashing Orange, Seefeel, Sun Dial, Swervedriver and Rollerskate Skinny included within mark a keen indication that the box set’s producers were not just resting on their laurels with this collection. They were aiming for that Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music type of definitive voice that leaves no stone unturned in terms of its coverage of shoegaze’s sprawling intercontinental history. And at five jam-packed discs, Still In A Dream contains enough surprises to stump even the most astute gazer in your crew (The Telescopes, Blind Mr. Jones and The Swirlies are three lost treasures who immediately come to mind when perusing the track list, though of course it’s all a matter of opinion).
Perfect for the learned music scholar, the Goth mom on the go and the curious young listener alike, Still In A Dream: A Story of Shoegaze 1988 – 1995 is a masterpiece in the art of box set compilation, one that sets the bar high for any enterprising opportunist looking to anthologize an entire subgenre.