The Original Cowboy
One could argue that Fat Wreck Chords' sort of re-release of Against Me!'s exceptional and pivotal album As the Eternal Cowboy, as a companion piece of sorts called The Original Cowboy, is a cynical tactic designed to drum up nostalgic dolla bills for a label who has not had the privilege of releasing their more recent, less exciting efforts. Hmmmm......
It is presented as a demo version of the final copy, in the vein of: "[we recorded these demos as a preliminary attempt at molding what would become the final record, but we kinda almost like these original versions better, almost.]"
The album contains about 80% of the songs contained on As the Eternal Cowboy, in 2003. There is a slight change in song order, and the record does not open up with the quintessential "The party's over... the CD's skippin..." vocals. Also, there is some song edits and additions that did not appear in the final cut.
If you are some kind of weirdo, and have somehow not heard of Against Me!, then I would advise against making it your first venture into the band. Go with Reinventing Axl Rose or the originally released As the Eternal... Go see them live, or get their DVD.
Don't get me wrong. This is an excellent record. I thoroughly appreciate the revelation of the artistic process by way of this newly released record. The original, that is, the Eternal Cowboy was very, very good, so it is hard for new Original Cowboy to go wrong. However, there is not a whole lot of difference in the sound, overall, except I suppose that this is a tad bit grittier and loose. To the Against Me!'s credit, the final version they originally released maintains this sense of looseness and grit, and is part of the reason As the Et. Cowboy is such a seminal release in the punk rock soundscape.
To those who would say this venture by Fat & Against Me! is cynical and revenue driven, I say, in the end, nay!! Records like this are good for the collective mental environment. This record is cool, and is the kind of thing that I like to see from artists. But Against Me! was too good the first time around for their own good. Fan of the band? Audiophile? Get this, you'll enjoy it.
Otherwise do as previously instructed.