Gin Blossoms - Outside Looking In
Gin Blossoms albums
Album Comparisons: Outside Looking In
The essential history of the Gin Blossoms is short but sweet. Known for their bright, upbeat melodies and mainstream, radio-friendly power pop compositions, this group made a splash in the early '90s with their breakthrough hit single "Hey Jealousy." After a subsequent string of similarly poppy singles, including a contribution to the Empire Records soundtrack album, the group disbanded in 1997 after releasing only two full length major label albums. Although they band would reform five years later, the Gin Blossoms' heyday was captured in the 1999 collection Outside Looking In: The Best of the Gin Blossoms. The quadruple platinum New Miserable Experience, issued in 1992 and re-released to wide acclaim the following year, featured a total of six singles, a full five of which are included on the "best of" disc. The follow up, Congratulations I'm Sorry, was less commercially successful but still a hit, and, along with a couple of Experience album cuts and selections from the Empire Records soundtrack and an earlier EP, it makes up the rest of Outside Looking In. How does the "best of" collection compare to the original releases? Note: one track featured on Outside Looking In, a live version of "Whitewash," is not included in this comparison (see the comparison analysis at the end).

Follow You Down

Outside Looking In (1999)

Follow You Down

Congratulations I'm Sorry (1996)

Follow You Down

Hey Jealousy

Outside Looking In (1999)

Hey Jealousy

New Miserable Experience (1992)

Hey Jealousy

Until I Fall Away

Outside Looking In (1999)

Until I Fall Away

New Miserable Experience (1992)

Until I Fall Away

Allison Road

Outside Looking In (1999)

Allison Road

Up and Crumbling (1991)

Allison Road

New Miserable Experience (1992)

Allison Road

Mrs. Rita

Outside Looking In (1999)

Mrs. Rita

Up and Crumbling (1991)

Mrs. Rita

New Miserable Experience (1992)

Mrs. Rita

Found Out About You

Outside Looking In (1999)

Found Out About You

New Miserable Experience (1992)

Found Out About You

Not Only Numb

Outside Looking In (1999)

Not Only Numb

Congratulations I'm Sorry (1996)

Not Only Numb

Cajun Song

Outside Looking In (1999)

Cajun Song

New Miserable Experience (1992)

Cajun Song

Just South of Nowhere

Outside Looking In (1999)

Just South of Nowhere

Up and Crumbling (1991)

Just South of Nowhere

Pieces of the Night

Outside Looking In (1999)

Pieces of the Night

New Miserable Experience (1992)

Pieces of the Night

As Long As It Matters

Outside Looking In (1999)

As Long As It Matters

Congratulations I'm Sorry (1996)

As Long As It Matters

Day Job

Outside Looking In (1999)

Day Job

Congratulations I'm Sorry (1996)

Day Job

Til I Hear It from You

Outside Looking In (1999)

Til I Hear It from You

"Follow You Down" CD single (1996)

Til I Hear It from You
And the winner is: original releases. This one at first appears to be close from the waveforms. The Outside Looking In tracks are not brickwalled, though they are slightly louder than the originals (confirmed by calculating the average RMS and comparing). A listening comparison, however, reveals the tracks on the newer disc to be a bit compressed relative to the originals. This is evident from the very first song, "Follow You Down," where the compilation disc is lacking some of the higher end by comparison with the version found on Congratulations I'm Sorry. Worst of all is the version of "Til I Hear It From You" found on the hits disc, which is very obviously compressed relative to that found on the "Follow You Down" single. In all honesty, there's really not much need to purchase the "hits" CD to begin with, as original copies of the first two major label albums are extremely common and inexpensive to obtain. I've seen used copies of New Miserable Experience in particular countless times in bargain bins for prices as low as $1 per copy. And fully half of the selections featured on Outside Looking In are found on that album alone. "Til I Hear It from You" is available on many editions of Congratulations I'm Sorry, and also on the Empire Records soundtrack album and the "Follow You Down" single. Although two songs - "Alison Road" and "Mrs. Rita" - are listed in the CD liner notes as originating from the Up and Crumbling EP, the versions on Experience are the same recordings (just with a better, warmer mastering job), leaving "Just South of Nowhere" as the only song on the "best of" album that you would need the EP for. The one song that's nearly exclusive to the compilation disc is a live version of "Whitewash" (previously available only on one particular version of the "As Long As It Matters" maxi-single), which may or not be important enough to justify paying for a collection of otherwise pretty easily available material. I tend to view live recordings that weren't singles as filler when included on these kinds of compilations, particularly when included in lieu of the original studio recordings, and so for me it's not worth shelling out full album price for this one song. Your mileage may vary, though.

As a side note, the spelling of "Allison Road" is inconsistent between releases, with both Up and Crumbling and New Miserable Experience listing it as "Allison Road" with two Ls, while the Outside Looking In release uses only one ("Alison Road"). In addition, the stereo of the New Miserable Experience songs is reversed on the later compilation disc.