A User's Guide to They Might Be Giants

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
Distilling a single-disc compendium of this dauntingly prolific duo's long and winding career would seem to be a thankless task, but this 29-song collection merits a hearty dose of appreciation due to its flawless blend of old, new, wacky, and true. A User's Guide is certainly the easiest entr?e into the realm of the Two Johns, as it offers up the songs best known to total novices -- a full-length version of "Boss of Me" (their theme from Malcolm in the Middle), for one -- as well as their most instantly memorable pop nuggets. Of those, the typically surreal "Birdhouse in My Soul" and the weirdly lovestruck "Ana Ng" are the most likely to get stuck in the grey matter ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
Distilling a single-disc compendium of this dauntingly prolific duo's long and winding career would seem to be a thankless task, but this 29-song collection merits a hearty dose of appreciation due to its flawless blend of old, new, wacky, and true. A User's Guide is certainly the easiest entrée into the realm of the Two Johns, as it offers up the songs best known to total novices -- a full-length version of "Boss of Me" (their theme from Malcolm in the Middle), for one -- as well as their most instantly memorable pop nuggets. Of those, the typically surreal "Birdhouse in My Soul" and the weirdly lovestruck "Ana Ng" are the most likely to get stuck in the grey matter after one listen. Other ditties, like the left-field tribute "James K. Polk" (an homage to one of the lesser-known White House occupants) and the surprisingly scathing "Your Racist Friend" might take a little longer to sink in, but they're just as tenacious in hanging on to the attention span. Unlike previous TMBG archival raids, A User's Guide gives equal billing to latter-day offerings -- from the kiddie-centric "No!" to the "Dr. Evil" theme they contributed to the Austin Powers soundtrack. And while it'd be stretching things to say it's the only They Might Be Giants disc you'll ever need, it's safe to say this is the one you'd reach for most often.
All Music Guide - Heather Phares
They Might Be Giants have a surprisingly large amount of collections in their discography; most of them, like Then: The Earlier Years, are dedicated to cataloging the band's first few years. Rhino's double-disc set Dial-a-Song remains an excellent, extensive overview, but until A User's Guide to They Might Be Giants, there hadn't been a worthwhile single-disc collection of the band's music. This is somewhat understandable, considering just how many songs They Might Be Giants have written over the years -- and at 29 tracks, this collection isn't that much bigger than some of the band's regular albums. As its title implies, A User's Guide to They Might Be Giants tries to represent as many of the group's different kind of songs as possible within a relatively small package. For the most part, it succeeds, balancing the Giants' best-known songs with some more offbeat choices. "Don't Let's Start," "Istanbul Not Constantinople," "Birdhouse in Your Soul," and "Ana Ng" are all present and accounted for, along with educational/historical favorites like "Meet James Ensor," "James K. Polk," and "Why Does the Sun Shine The Sun Is a Mass of Incandescent Gas." The band's more surreal side is represented by "Purple Toupee" and "Put Your Hand Inside the Puppet Head" as well as by the album's quirky opening and closing choices, "Minimum Wage" and "Spider," but there's also room for some of They Might Be Giants' more affecting songs, like "They'll Need a Crane" and "She's an Angel," which is still one of the sweetest songs John Linnell has ever written. A User's Guide to They Might Be Giants also has its fair share of later career highlights, such as "Cyclops Rock," "Older," and "No!" like the children's album that this track comes from, this album is also a darn fine collection for kids. A sampling of TMBG's soundtrack work, including their fabulous "Dr. Evil" theme from Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me and the full version of "Boss of Me" from Malcolm in the Middle, round out the collection. A User's Guide to They Might Be Giants concentrates on the band's brightest, poppiest material, which might disappoint die-hard fans looking for their own personal favorites, but this album isn't designed for them. However, it does do a good job of giving an overall feeling of what They Might Be Giants' two-decade career is about, especially for new listeners.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/3/2005
  • Label: Elektra / Wea
  • UPC: 081227954024
  • Catalog Number: 79540
  • Sales rank: 13,239

Album Credits

Performance Credits
They Might Be Giants Primary Artist
Charlie Sepulveda Trumpet
Brian Doherty Drums, Glockenspiel
Zachary Alford Drums
Alan Bezozi Tambourine, Snare Drums
Laura Cantrell Vocals
Hal Cragin Bass
Mark Feldman Violin
John Flansburgh Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals, Group Member
Dan Hickey Drums
Kurt Hoffman Horn
Luis Jardim Percussion
Dan Levine Trombone
John Linnell Accordion, Keyboards, Saxophone, Vocals, Group Member
Frank London Trumpet
Graham Maby Bass
Tony Maimone Bass
Mark Pender Trumpet
Erik Sanko Bass
Eric Schermerhorn Guitar
Lyle Workman Guitar
Julian Koster Singing Saw
Steve Calhoon Drums
Mauro Refosco Percussion
Danny Weinkauf Bass
Jim O'Connor Trumpet
Robin "Goldie" Goldwasser Vocals
Dan John Miller Guitar
Skyline Staff Hand Clapping
Technical Credits
They Might Be Giants Composer, Producer, Audio Production
Clive Langer Producer, Audio Production
Danny Alonso Engineer
Paul Angelli Engineer
Albert Caiati Engineer
Luigi Creatore Composer
Patrick Dillett Producer, Engineer
Edward Douglas Engineer
Tom Durack Producer
Paul Fox Producer, Audio Production
Dave Goodermuth Engineer
Bill Inglot Remastering
Hiro Ishihara Engineer
James Kennedy Composer
Rich Lamb Engineer
Hugo Peretti Composer
Katherine Miller Engineer
Roger Moutenot Producer, Engineer
Phil "Wif Skill" Nowlan Engineer
Lou Singer Composer
Ed Thacker Engineer
George David Weiss Composer
Alan Winstanley Producer
Hy Zaret Composer
Al Houghton Engineer
Bill Krauss Producer, Engineer, Audio Production
Lisa Marr Composer
Adam Schlesinger Producer
Chris Laidlaw Engineer
Alex Noyes Engineer
Brent Sigmeth Engineer
Tony Gillis Engineer
Greg Thompson Engineer
Steve Woolard Discographical Annotation
Tom Durak Producer
Barbara Glauber Art Direction
Robynn Iwata Composer
Alex Olsson Engineer
Nat Simon Composer
Alan Ford Engineer
Matt Gold Engineer
Matthew Hill Composer
Mark Bishop Engineer
Jason Spittle Engineer
Ben Bailes Engineer
TJ Doherty Engineer
Toshikazu Yoshioka Engineer
Cosmo Heidtman Engineer
Jamie Lincoln Kitman Management
Bill Kovatch Engineer
Hideki Nishino Engineer
David Robbins Engineer
Daniel Hersch Remastering
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