Playing Favourites

19 June 2012 | 6:56 am | Staff Writer

A decade seems as good a slice of time as any to sit back and take stock of what’s been achieved. At least that’s what Matthew J Tow of The Lovetones thinks.

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“I think it was a good time to do it,” singer, songwriter, guitarist and Lovetones frontman Matthew J Tow feels when considering the reasons for releasing Provenance, a career retrospective. “You know, five albums and a lot of touring, and also I never got to do a retrospective to [previous band] Drop City. So it felt like a good time to do it and also a great way to reintroduce the band to people who might not have heard us.”

The impressively high quality of Tow's songwriting, of course, steeped as it is in the classic psychedelic pop traditions of The Beatles, The Kinks and the rest of the best of the '60s, guarantees a solid enough retrospective. But, as well as a 16-song selection from across those five albums, there's a DVD of a Lovetones set at the Metro filmed by Moshcam in 2008, with the core trio of Tow, bass and keyboards player Matthew Sigley and drummer Chris Cobb augmented by guitarist Serge Luca.

“Just the sound quality and the footage in high definition – I think there were five cameras there on the night – it was just a great night for us and as a document it's a great thing to have. It is a different kettle of fish live of course, but I think we don't compromise too much on the sound. I mean, we obviously change things around a little bit – perhaps we don't have the same instrumentation on the tracks – but it's really important for us is to obviously do the best we can in the studio and make it the best we can possibly make it, but also not to compromise on that sound in terms of we can't recreate it, we change it around to suit the song sort of thing. It's really important as a live band to capture those songs and if it's in a different way, that's fine.”

The real task in putting together a retrospective is selecting what one hopes gives the best representative overview of what your band is about. It's not easy at the best of times with five albums' worth of material to choose from, but even more difficult when, as with The Lovetones, you're not a “singles” band – there are no easy “greatest hits” choices.

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“We deliberately left off the longer sort of dronier, jammier songs. I think those songs are more for if people like what they hear they can go back and rediscover the other albums and see what the band does in terms of a whole album. I think we chose these songs because we thought they were the strongest and most immediate to people. I mean there's so much more to The Lovetones, but I think this is a great way to introduce u....

“Apart from perhaps, we had a single on the first album [Give It All I Can], which was a long time ago, we haven't really released singles. We've sort of sent songs off for radio promotion and that sort of thing, but it's always been an album thing and I think that's really important too...that people get the whole album. But in saying that it's fun just to pick and choose a few songs and put them all together and see what they sound like. Apart from the first five or six tracks on the record, there was no real plan,” Tow laughs.