Obviously, the appeal of this disc isn't exactly all that broad. Yet, for the devoted Buffalo Tom fan, Besides—a companion to Beggars' 2000 best-of set, A-Sides—is a genuine jewel made e

Obviously, the appeal of this disc isn't exactly all that broad. Yet, for the devoted Buffalo Tom fan, Besides—a companion to Beggars' 2000 best-of set, A-Sides—is a genuine jewel made even more precious by the fact that the band's future seems unclear (the band went on hiatus last year and has now scheduled a few shows). On this collection of B-sides, rare live performances, and previously unreleased cuts, the Boston alt- rock trio can be heard spreading its wings. Sometimes the chances it takes in the process work, sometimes they don't; the band's songwriters, guitarist/vocalist Bill Janovitz and bassist/ vocalist Chris Colbourn, admit as much in the disc's wonderful, track-by-track liner notes. Yet, on a few of these cuts, Janovitz and Colbourn—without even realizing it—reach that higher plane they sought while writing such tunes as the lovely, acoustic "Anchors Aweigh," a leftover from the band's Sleepy Eyed sessions that most certainly should have made an official album. Janovitz's scratchy baritone proves a perfect fit, meanwhile, for he and Colbourn's take on the Rolling Stones' "The Spider and the Fly," taken from a 1995 radio show. If Besides proves to be Buffalo Tom's final release, it is without question a fitting and classy finale.—WO