CD Review of Sawdust by The Killers
Recommended if you like
Franz Ferdinand, The Bravery,
The Strokes
Label
American Recordings
The Killers: Sawdust

Reviewed by John Paulsen

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W
hile it seems a bit premature for a band with just two studio albums under their belts to be releasing a 17-track B-sides and rarities compilation, the Killers’ Sawdust is probably meant to hold the group’s fans over until their next release. It doesn’t appear to be an apology to those who didn’t approve of all the Springsteen hype surrounding Sam’s Town, as the collection opens with the Lou Reed-duet “Tranquilize.” The Killers may love Reed’s work, but it’s tough to hear his influence on the band’s debut and the song is an odd choice to open this collection.

The cover of Joy Division’s “Shadowplay” (for the soundtrack of “Control,” the biopic of Ian Curtis) probably fares better because it’s right in the band’s new wave sweet spot. The Killers’ mediocre contribution to the soundtrack of “Spider-Man 3” (“Move Away”) is also included.

There are two additional covers – Mel Tillis’ “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town” and Dire Straits’ “Romeo and Juliet.” The former was covered more effectively by Cake while the latter fits in pretty well with the Sam’s Town session material.

Fans of Hot Fuss will find a lot to like on Sawdust. “Under the Gun,” “Glamorous Indie Rock & Roll,” “The Ballad of Michael Valentine” and “Who Let You Go?” are all classic (and catchy) Killers tunes that are better than much of what made the second half of the band’s debut (save for “Change Your Mind” and “Everything Will Be Alright”). Jacques LuCont’s worthwhile “Thin White Duke Remix” of “Mr. Brightside” is tacked on at the end of Sawdust.

The extra material from the Sam’s Town era isn’t as good, but the band probably should have made room for “Daddy’s Eyes” (first released as a B-side on the “Bones” single) on their sophomore effort. Listen for the lyric – “I’d like to stay but I can’t because / I’ve been foolin’ around” – and you just might agree. “All the Pretty Faces” is a solid, up-tempo rocker that appeared on the “When You Were Young” single and alternate versions of Sam’s Town. There is a live, stripped-down session version of “Sam’s Town” (that the band recorded at Abbey Road), which has an intimacy that is lacking in the original version.

When a band tries to shift its direction as much as the Killers did with its first two albums, the leftover material is going to vary greatly, and Sawdust reflects that with its loose, hodgepodge feel. The collection benefits from some terrific Hot Fuss extras, making it a worthwhile purchase for fans of that record, but there are some Sam’s Town leftovers worth warming up as well.

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