Capitol - 1996 & 1999 - 53 & 64 minutes
With the success of their self-titled 2001 album, it's easy to think that Jimmy Eat World have come from nowhere to have three hit singles and find themselves headlining arenas in the US and playing Europe every other month.
But the truth is at once far more prosaic and romantic. They're a band who've slogged away at it for years, had their share of bad calls and who reckoned that the best thing their former label ever did was buy them a van, which allowed them to tour and tour and then tour some more.
That label was Capitol and with Jimmy Eat World's stock ever rising, they've decided to re-release the two albums the band made for them in the 1990s. Listening back, it's hard not to see it as anything but the height of folly that Capitol let Jimmy Eat World get away.
Granted, 1996's 'Static Prevails' *** is largely a textbook emo record and never really keeps your attention throughout. There are too many instances of familiar sounding riffs and overwrought vocals for 'Static...' to be convincing. But the likes of 'Episode IV' and 'Seventeen' showed a huge amount of maturity for a band that had only got together three years previously. It's the least essential of their major label albums, but fans will be fascinated to listen and spot the traces of what was to come.
If Capitol had any doubts about the abilities of their charges, then they should have been completely wiped out with the release of 'Clarity' ***** in 1999. Brilliantly dubbed in one magazine as "the Led Zeppelin IV of emo rock", it's a dense, beautiful collection which sees them bring in orchestras, drum loops and programming and find space for killer choruses, ballads and left field forays. The shortest song is under three minutes, the longest over 16 and the more you listen to all of them the more you'll wonder why this masterpiece wasn't massive.
Soon after 'Clarity's release, Jimmy Eat World walked away from Capitol, toured some more and got the money together to self-finance their fourth record. It was subsequently picked up by Dreamworks and the band got the level of attention and success they deserved.
With one of the greatest wrongs of rock righted, it will be really interesting to see just where they go next. The quartet's latest record has given them the charts and the audiences, but if you buy 'Clarity' you'll be hoping that its songs will inform their next move. Three years on, it's an album of the year - it may sound like one of their lyrics, but with Jimmy Eat World, Capitol never knew what it had until it was gone. And the bliss you'll have on your face listening to 'Clarity' is the perfect foil to the embarrassment on Capitol's.
Static Prevails Tracklisting: Thinking, That's All - Rockstar - Claire - Call it in the Air - Seventeen - Episode IV - Digits - Caveman - World is Static - In the Same Room - Robot Factory - Anderson Mesa
Clarity Tracklisting: Table for Glasses - Lucky Denver Mint - Your New Aesthetic - Believe in What You Want - A Sunday - Crush - 12.23.95 - Ten - Just Watch the Fireworks - For Me This is Heaven - Blister - Clarity - Goodbye Sky Harbor