Restraint has never been Super Furry Animals’ strong suit. So it’s no surprise that the Welsh oddballs have gone over the top for the 20th anniversary edition of their breakthrough 2001 release Rings Around The World — they’ve reporteldy added so many bonus tracks to the affair that they have to issue it in two volumes over three weeks. Based on this first instalment, I thought they might be overdoing it just a tad. Don’t get me wrong; the original album, remastered here in all its freewheeling psychedelic indie-rock glory, remains a vibrant masterpiece of mischievous creativity. But aside from two excellent outtakes and a pair of rough mixes, those much-heralded bonus tracks consist mainly of multiple remixes for nearly every track. That’s nice and all, but it doesn’t exactly run rings around the original. Thankfully, the second chapter brings more to the story by raising the bar with three more discs of appropriately trippy demos, outtakes and intrumental verions. It runs rings around Pt. 1.
THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “The isolated audio of Paul McCartney chewing carrots and celery was released by Super Furry Animals to announce the 20-year anniversary reissue of their acclaimed “maximalist” fifth studio album, Rings Around The World.
McCartney’s playful addition was released on its own for the very first time as one of 75 curiosities from the vaults — including unreleased outtakes, remixes, hidden sounds and demos appearing across the multi-format release. So vast is the reissue of Rings Around The World that the digital version will be split over two separate release dates, with the second instalment arriving three weekds after the first.
Beginning with a chance encounter at the NME Awards in 2000 and ending with McCartney’s enthusiastic chewing being delivered by mail and then woven into the production of the Furries’ single Receptacle For The Respectable, the ex-Beatle’s contribution is just one of the wild bends in the road of the expansive, classic alt-pop album’s remarkable story. Approached by artificially emboldened Furries’ keys player Cian Ciarán at the ceremony, initially to convince McCartney to let the band loose to remix The Beatles’ songs (a successful pitch as the Furries later received boxes of master tapes to contribute heavily to the Liverpool Sound Collage), McCartney agreed to appear on the band’s upcoming album. Within weeks, he had sent the band a tape of just what they had requested. Having previously “played” the celery on The Beach Boys’ 1967 track Vegetables, McCartney took the chance to revive his penchant for percussion with roots.
Ciarán says of the surreal addition to the Mercury Prize-nominated album: “He was going to come to the studio and then decided not to for some reason. So, we sent him stereo backing tracks so he could keep time, then he sent the tape back with a message that started with a really dodgy Welsh accent. Then he goes ‘I hope you like it’ — the next thing you know you just hear this chewing sound!” In addition to McCartney’s appearance as carrot and celery cruncher-in-chief on Receptacle For The Respectable, Super Furry Animals added one more hero to the list of album credits as Velvet Underground’s John Cale took up the piano on Presidential Suite.
With the first studio album to be produced in 5.1 Surround Sound, as a visual album and released on DVD allowing Playstation gamers to effortlessly switch to listening to the album, Super Furry Animals tested both the tolerances of modern technology and the purse strings of their record label at the time. Hiring Grammy-winning Run DMC and Public Enemy producer Chris Shaw and heading for a string of high-spec, residential studios, the band set out to reach for their furthest and wildest musical ambitions.
The Rings Around The World adventure is famed for being central to the Furries’ American odyssey. They, Shaw and engineer Eric Tew completed the final third of the record at Bearsville Studios on the lip of Woodstock — sessions that began after the band were left at the roadside by an out-of-patience, conservative husband-and-wife driving team, following a nine-date club tour from Hoboken to Boston. The following weeks featured baby bears, fireflies and paranoid, Blair Witch Project-reminiscent forest walks.
The widespread positive response to the record after its U.K. release not only gained the band more ground and bigger shows in the U.S., but a 2001 Mercury Music Prize nomination.”