'Scared to Get Happy: A Story of Indie Pop 1980-1989'
Some of the 134 songs on this massive box set from Cherry Red are a bit obvious. I mean who doesn't already have Aztec Camera's "Oblivious." At least go for a Postcard single. There are, however, just as many that are inspired... like the original flexi version of the Bluebell's "Happy Birthday." Even the biggest fans will find many tracks they don't own. The 54-page booklet is very well done, but I do have a complaint: The discs are ridiculously difficult to get in and out of the box. If you have this one, you know what I mean.
'At the BBC'
At 81 tracks, a vast majority of which cover the pivotal years 1983-1986, this is a Big Country fan's dream. Do yourself a favor and splurge for the box set over the two-disc edition or you'll miss out on a must-have DVD and well-done 32-page hardcover booklet.
I already had most of the extras from around the Breeders' 'Last Splash' album, but I didn't have the live show that comprises disc three, and that made the steep price worth it for me. Plus, I was just hoping the record would sound better, and I was rewarded with slightly less mud in the production. This still stands as one of the best albums to come out of the '90s.
This is the first of two selections on this list that may have some of you scratching your heads with disappointment, but I'm an unapologetic fan of Tears for Fears' first album. The deluxe edition never sounded better, and some of the B-sides and 12" singles on the second disc were new to me.
'Everything's Shining Bright, The Lazy Recordings 1985-87'
I didn't have the entire set of five singles/EPs prior to the Primitives' major label jump, let alone the scores of unreleased material, but the real reason I wanted this two-disc set was for the full-length live show from Aug, 15, 1987. It's great fun to hear this band with grit.
'Cartography for Beginners'
Six weeks ago I told you the best place to start your introduction to the Lucksmiths was 'Warmer Corners.' Three weeks later Matinee Recordings gave us all a better idea. This 35-song two-disc "best of" covers all 16 glorious years of the Aussie band's indie-pop existence. I don't have some of the early albums, and they are long out of print. So, I had to get this one.
Hard to believe, but I actually got two cassettes in 2013. The first was this c60 compiled by the Pastels from favorite songs in their discography since 1995 and sold as part of Cassette Store Day. For the record, my other tape was the live Orange Juice bootleg from 1981 AED Records handed out for free with December orders. I mention it because it deserves to be on one of my year-end lists somewhere.
My favorite Danish band only has one full-length album, but Northern Portrait has kept busy through the years with a bevy of EPs, singles and slots on compilation albums. I have tried my best to keep up, but a few songs slipped away before becoming tough finds. 'Ta!' has filled all of those holes in my collection. I do, however, miss having all of those brilliant picture sleeves. At least I can continue my search while listening to these great tunes. Oh, and that sophomore full-length album is slated for a 2014 release!
After nearly a decade of stellar singles and EPs, the Clean's first full-length studio album was released in 1990. It has been out of print for ages, but Captured Tracks and Flying Nun rescued it so those late to the party can finally move on beyond the excellent but broad 'Anthology' that has appeased fans for a decade.
'Pop Can! The Definitive Collection 1986 to 1988'
I only knew Mighty Mighty from the various C86 compilations in my collection, but I liked every song I ever heard. There really weren't that many recordings. So, when I picked up this two-disc set chock full of jangle I basically had the band's entire history.
and the next 5 (in no particular order...)
The Blue Nile - 'A Walk Across the Rooftops' and 'Hats'
14 Iced Bears - 'Hold On Inside: Complete Recordings 1991-1986'
Paul Young - 'Remixes and Rarities' (second disappointment?)
Lansing-Dreiden - 'The Dividing Island'
The Brilliant Corners - 'Heart On Your Sleeve - A Decade In Pop 1983-1993'