In this humble chimps opinion, there can never be a bad time to remind yourself of the musical genius that is Lou Barlow, but 2007 has provided particularly rich pickings for fans of the indie veteran. We've already witnessed the triumphant return to recorded form of amp abusers Dinosaur Jr, with the awesome 'Beyond' an album that featured a rejuvinated Barlow back behind the bass for the first time in 20 years. Now, at the other end of the Volumic scale we get a repackaged and re-released version of 'The Freed Man', the self-explanatory titled first album from Sebadoh, the band Barlow formed after a well publicised fallout with Dinosaur Jr's J. Mascis.
The importance of Sebadoh in the underground indie scheme of things can never be underestimated. The lo-fi intimacy, invention and sheer refusal to be pigeonholed provided inspiration for many great bands that followed; class acts such as Guided by Voices and Pavement to name but two. Whereas subsequent albums were more rounded and accesible, the 52 'songs' that make up the reissued Freed Man give an invaluable insight into the inner workings of the band from Boston. I say songs, but it really plays out like a series of half ideas; the hyperactive result of stoned and wandering minds, which Barlow and partner Eric Gaffney undoubtedly possessed.
Tracks start then end without warning or breakdown altogether, all intercut with taped interviews and random commercials recorded from TV. With the longest of those 52 tracks clocking in at just over 2 and a half minutes ('Julienne' and even that is really 3 songs stuck together), The Freed Man is restless but not irritating and most definately rewarding. Like discovering a notebook of Picasso's sketches as he worked to create later masterpieces.