Two records now available as a single CD, these really show off Yo La Tengo's ability to create musical extremes. New Wave Hot Dogs has the firm pop sense and strong songwriting of the debut, but President Yo La Tengo offers up a little more free-form skronk in the ten-minute live version of "The Evil That Men Do," a gloriously squalling, over-the-top crash-and-bash session which proves how liberating and fun sonic dissonance can be. Just in case you don't like that sort of thing, "Evil" also shows up as a straight-ahead folk-rock track. This is a great collection of material that, as well as anything else they have recorded, gets to the heart of what makes this band tick.
Any blues fan dedicated to live music will testify that when musicians play with their peers, the energy rises a few notches. That's the concept behind this meeting of the minds hosted by guitarist Debbie Davies. Fellow string-benders Tab Benoit and Coco Montoya (both have worked with her previously) join harmonica veteran Charlie Musselwhite and let the resulting fireworks naturally explode. Typically, these projects wind up being overdubbed affairs, a process that dilutes and often negates the concept. But except for a few instances, largely with Benoit, Davies and her musical friends assembled in the studio, resulting in the titular explosion. Both Montoya and Davies apprenticed under Albert Collins, and the opening "A.C. Strut" captures the Texas blues legend's loose shuffle style as the guitarists trade sizzling licks.