Judge Brett Cullum is not an addict, notwithstanding his alive-feeling-ness.
The deeper you stick it in your vein
It's not a habit, it's cool, I feel alive
On September 29th, a retrospective DVD was released to celebrate the work of the band K's Choice. The band had a ten-year career, hitting it big in the United States in 1996 with the song "Not an Addict." The song was released at just the right time, gracefully capturing the tortured spirit of the grunge movement. Kurt Cobain had taken his life two years earlier, and people were beginning to grow tired of reading about celebrity overdoses on a weekly basis. Alternative rock was literally dying on the vine, when along came this haunting beautiful eulogy that captured America's world-weary spirit and the Seattle sound. Funny thing—the band was from Belgium, and they were hardly new to European audiences. "Not an Addict" is still a breathtaking anthem, but what about the band behind its inception?
K's Choice > 10 > 1993>2003 Ten Years of is an awe-inspiring two-disc release from Vanguard Records that includes every video ever made by the band (including three for "Not An Addict"), a one hour concert, interviews, clips, backstage moments, and behind-the-scenes footage. At over five hours in length, it could very well be the most in-depth peek at a "one hit wonder" band I have ever seen (and folks, I've seen a lot of these). It's not really fair to label the band as a "one hit" phenomenon since, they are huge in Europe, but here in the States only hardcore fans will be familiar with anything beyond their signature song. Fans will be elated, and non-fans will be shocked, at how much there is in this collection. The DVD includes all of the band's videos—ever, with aspect ratios varying from song to song. You can chose to hear the music in traditional stereo or a very robust 5.1 mix. The entire package is a class act, and has no regional encoding (probably because it will sell better overseas). If this is any indication of the general quality of a Vanguard Records DVD release, then they are a company to watch. You'd think this band was the second coming of the Beatles with all the attention lavished on this set.
K's Choice was a brother and sister team, Sara and Gert Bettens. The other bandmates were a rotating bunch, and now both siblings are going solo (as of this year). Sara's voice was always the hook for the band—a breathy yet strong alto that perfectly emoted the songs' lyrics about addictions, love and loss. Gert was mainly a musician and arranger, and sometimes did backing vocals on selected tracks. For an alternative rock band, all of their songs were very well-constructed, and remind me more of guitar-driven pop. Fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer will recognize the duo from their appearance in the season three episode "Doppelgangland." Sara's voice was also used to score parts of Wild Things. They never got the attention they deserved in America, even after a long stint on the Lilith Fair tour.
The band peaked in the Nineties, and boy can you tell from the videos and concert. It's all about the grunge look, down to plaid and the purposefully distressed film stock. The songs have folksy verses, until the guitars come crashing in for an anthemic chorus. What amazed me about the Nineties is this: Here was this economic boom time for America, and we were at peace for almost the whole decade (except that Gulf War). It was a pretty benign time—yet we all chose to listen to this dour, angry rock music that was depressing and deep. It was a rejection of the relentlessly stylized decade of synthesized New Wave that preceded it. If you have a yen to relive the glory days of grunge, here's a chance. Sara reminds me of a cleaned up Liz Phair, or the mysterious love child of Sheryl Crow and the guys from Candlebox. If you like to snuggle up in your flannel and reminisce about the summer of Lilith Fair, then this is the ultimate DVD for you.
This is a strong collection of great songs. I've heard the band is heading over here for a goodbye tour in 2004 and 2005. If anything, it would be nice to see them to remember the days when I wore tons of flannel, grew out my hair, and pretended I liked stage diving. K's Choice is a beautiful band that put out many great songs, and one unstoppable classic. Even now I can hear Sara's wounded breathing that opens "Not an Addict." For a moment, a Belgian woman cried for all of America.
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