What Another Man Spills: 20th Anniversary [LP]Artist: Lambchop
What Another Man Spills (1998) represents a milestone in Lambchop’s career, but not in the modern sense of a ‘landmark’ release. Building on foundations that had once sounded almost literally creaky, it expands upon the tentative manoeuvres they’d undertaken with the previous year’s Thriller (1997) and gestures confidently towards its brassy successor, Nixon, which would arrive in 2000 to wild acclaim and previously unimaginable commercial success. Indeed, it sits at a crossroads between the band that Lambchop first emerged as, and the band that they would later become. If it felt at the time like a reasonable, yet slightly confused descendant of what had gone before, without it, one suspects, what followed might never have been possible. In fact, what might first seem an anomaly in their catalogue, a deviation from a previously familiar path, instead becomes a beacon lighting the way forward. It is, one might say, both ugly duckling and beautiful swan all at once. In terms of production, What Another Man Spills represented a huge leap forward, and stylistically it took bold, convincing strides towards uncharted territory too. Its impact wouldn’t be felt for another couple of years, of course, but then it would suddenly look like part of a carefully orchestrated masterplan. Today, too, it continues to stand as a vibrant, satisfying snapshot of a band at a pivotal moment in their lengthy career. Soon Lambchop would almost entirely leave their formative aesthetic behind to embark on a journey that would reach so many people it would ultimately help transform Nashville’s image as culturally moribund and reactionary. But what and who Lambchop were, and what and who they are, never really changes, despite their gradual evolution. They are, and always will be, Lambchop, and they could never have been that without What Another Man Spills.