Published May 26, 2016Thirteen years after its initial release, It Still Moves remains the record that defined the My Morning Jacket sound for many fans. The earnest, grain silo-echoing vocals, the reverb-drenched guitars and the haunting, melancholy psych/country/rock-hybrid sound came together to make this an unforgettable major label debut for the band. MMJ frontman Jim James has apparently always been dissatisfied with the original mix of the record, and so has gone back to right what only he knew was wrong on this deluxe reissue. In addition to freshly remixed and remastered versions of all 12 album tracks, the 2016 reissue features three songs that were originally left off the album, and ten rough demo versions of songs from the record.
I loved It Still Moves when it came out in 2003, and I still do. The songs that have long since become staples of the MMJ catalogue hold up nicely — there are at least four unimpeachable classics here, including the ramshackle opener "Mageetah," the live staples "Golden" and "One Big Holiday" and the mournful closer "One In The Same."
In comparing the deluxe reissue to the original release, the casual listener would be hard pressed to notice any significant differences besides the guitars sounding a little brighter and more forward in the mix. The demos, even though they are rough and stripped down, allow the hooks to shine through, and bear testament to what a great collection of songs It Still Moves was (and is). That said, the most interesting thing about this reissue for non-MMJ obsessives is the three bonus tracks. "En La Ceremony" is the best of the three, and starts out with a mellow flamenco guitar interlude before ambling into a classic MMJ jam complete with horns and extended guitar solos.
It is always vaguely disappointing when an artist tinkers with something that you thought was nearly perfect to begin with (insert George Lucas/Star Wars references here). In this case, the differences are at times imperceptible, and the new material is a minor diversion. With MMJ having just recently released what is one of the best records of their career (check out 2015's The Waterfall if you haven't already), I expect all but the most fervent fans will be content to look forward to what is next for the band rather than mess with past triumphs. Completists, enjoy; all others, pull out your old CD copy of It Still Moves and rest assured that you're not missing much. (ATO Records)