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The Dismemberment Plan: A People's History Of The Dismemberment Plan

Album: A People's History Of The Dismemberment Plan
Label: DeSoto

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The D.C. band The Dismemberment Plan broke up earlier this year after almost 10 years of grassroots success built on danceable punk and the charismatic confessionals of bandleader Travis Morrison. Morrison is an appealingly down-to-earth small-scale icon, and when asked once why he put all of The Dismemberment Plan's music on the Internet where it could be heard for free, he noted that he got paid pretty much the same whether fans bought his music or not. That streak of openness-by-necessity underlies The Dismemberment Plan's final project, a collection of remixes put together by the band's fans, using rough tracks that Morrison made available on his web site. A People's History Of The Dismemberment Plan follows the model that Morrison established early on: two-way devotion between fan and artist, coupled with a belief that technology shouldn't create new classes of haves and have-nots. A People's History gives the uninitiated little sense of how The Dismemberment Plan sounded, since these remixes aren't dance versions or instrumental versions, but almost complete rethinks, using only some of Morrison's vocals and some of the original chord progressions. (A second disc with the original versions would've made a nice addition, though the bulk of the source material comes from the band's two most recent albums, the highly recommended Emergency & I and Change.) The sound differs, but the feel of The Dismemberment Plan bleeds through tracks like Cynyc's version of "Following Through," which keeps the beat and–by reducing Morrison's anxious self-examination to a ghostly, inarticulate presence–maintains the sense of flustered urgency. Equally distinguished are the sultry, funky Justin Norvell mix of "The Other Side," Ev's jazzy, moody take on Morrison's urban survey "The City," and Eric Gundel's "Ooo La La"-laced re-imagining of "Superpowers." Similarly, Grandmaster Incongruous' smashup version of "Pay For The Piano" matches The Dismemberment Plan to a variety of beat-crazy samples like Elvis Costello's "Pump It Up," describing through sound how the band's heart was in reminding timid indie rockers how to move.