Rhino Dials Up TMBG 20th Anniversary Retrospective

As Brooklyn, N.Y.-based duo of John Linnell and John Flansburgh -- otherwise known as They Might Be Giants -- celebrate their 20th anniversary of performing together, Rhino will get into the act by re

As Brooklyn, N.Y.-based duo of John Linnell and John Flansburgh -- otherwise known as They Might Be Giants -- celebrate their 20th anniversary of performing together, Rhino will get into the act by releasing a two-disc, 52-track collection that spans their entire history. Due Sept. 3, "Dial-a-Song: 20 Years of They Might Be Giants," is named after the band's free call-in song service (718-387-6962), and largely culls tracks from TMBG's nine studio albums, along with a handful of soundtrack contributions, B-sides, alternate EP recordings, and three previously-unreleased live recordings.

Among those gems is a live version of "Stormy Pinkness" -- a song only previously available as a studio version on 1990's "Istanbul (Not Constaninople)" EP -- captured in Berlin in 1989. Concert recordings of "Spy" and "She's Actual Size," both of unidentified origin, round out the set's previously unavailable cuts.

Otherwise, "Dial-a-Song" is a solid overview of the band's history, assembled by the label with input from Flansburgh and Linnell. Along with the "Malcolm in the Middle" theme "Boss of Me" and the "Austin Powers" song "Dr. Evil," the set mostly consists of songs that regularly appear in TMBG's live sets. Among the favorites are "Ana Ng," "Exquisite Dead Guy," "The Statue Got Me High," "Cyclops Rock," "James K. Polk," "Older," and "Birdhouse in Your Soul."

Notable is the inclusion of the adult version of "Robot Parade"; a less menacing version of the song appears on the band's recently released Idlewild/Rounder children's album, "No!" (see review), the title track of which is also included here. In recent weeks the pair has been on an in-store performance/autograph signing tour to herald the kid-friendly set's release, with one stop left tonight (June 20) at Borders in Providence, R.I.

Next week the group will play a trio of festivals in Nashville (June 27), Atlanta (28), and Washington, D.C. (29). A U.S. tour kicks off July 12 in Denver, and will close with an Aug. 15 appearance at New York's Central Park Summerstage. A fall 20th anniversary tour is also expected.

As previously reported, "Gigantic (A Tale of Two Johns)," a documentary on the band, has been making the rounds of film festivals as the filmmakers search for a distributor.

Here is the "Dial-a-Song: 20 Years of They Might Be Giants" track listing:

Disc 1
"Birdhouse in Your Soul"
"Ana Ng"
"Don't Let's Start"
"Boss of Me"
"Older"
"Istanbul (Not Constantinople)"
"Doctor Worm"
"The Guitar"
"Dr. Evil"
"New York City"
"Particle Man"
"Cyclops Rock"
"Minimum Wage"
"Man, It's So Loud in Here"
"We're the Replacements"
"Why Does the Sun Shine? (The Sun Is a Mass of Incandescent Gas)" (Live)
"Your Racist Friend"
"Bangs"
"Snail Shell"
"Twisting"
"Another First Kiss"
"They'll Need a Crane"
"The Statue Got Me High"
"(She Was A) Hotel Detective"
"Put Your Hand Inside the Puppet Head"
"I Palindrome I"

Disc 2
"She's An Angel"
"How Can I Sing Like a Girl?"
"James K. Polk"
"Meet James Ensor"
"Mammal"
"Pet Name"
"No!"
"I Can Hear You"
"Spider"
"I Should Be Allowed To Think"
"Fingertips"
"She's Actual Size" (live)
"Spy" (live)
"Stormy Pinkness" (recorded live in Berlin, 1989)
"Exquisite Dead Guy"
"Robot Parade" (Adult Version)
"Boat of Car"
"S-E-X-X-Y"
"Number Three"
"The End of the Tour"
"They Might Be Giants"
"Hey Mr. DJ, I Thought You Said We Had a Deal"
"Nightgown of the Sullen Moon"
"Snowball in Hell"
"Purple Toupee"
"Cowtown"