Thursday, December 13, 2018

Favorite Reissues of 2018

Well, I did it again. It was another year where I spent more resources on new reissues than new releases, although I did keep it closer than usual. What can I say? I'm an old guy holding on to the past with arthritic fingers. I have a feeling my favorite reissue of 2018 is one I don't even have yet. Fingers crossed 'The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society' box set will be under the tree on Christmas morning. As Casey Kasem used to say, now on with the countdown.

20. Various Artists - Record Store Day singles
Not for the brave of heart, but I shivered in the cold for the first time in years to pick up 7" reissues of Frank Wilson's "Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)," Nico's "I'm Not Sayin'" and Chris Bell's "I Am the Cosmos." Not sure I would do it again, but I am happy to have them.

19. Stereolab - 'Switched On (Volumes 1-3)'
For die-hard fans, not much sizzle here, but I was one volume short. 'Switched On' (1992), 'Refried Ectoplasm' (1995) and 'Aluminum Tunes' (1998) are remastered and come in a clam-shell box. Also available on clear vinyl.

18. Bettye Lavette - 'The 1972 Muscle Shoals Sessions'
Bettye and the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. Enough said. How in the world did this one sit on the shelf for decades? Run Out Groove brings this to us on vinyl for the first time with two bonus tracks.

17. The County Fathers - 'Lightheaded'
Cloudberry Records has a stellar reputation for unearthing gems like these. You may know Mark Radcliffe as a BBC radio presenter, but he was once in an indie-pop band based in Manchester. This set includes the coveted three-track "Lightheaded" 12" that came out in 1988, plus a bunch of extras.

16. Various Artists - 'Basement Beehive: The Girl Group Underground'
I'm such a sucker for this sound. Don't expect the Shirelles. Believe me, Numero Group dug deep for these obscure gems. Skip the vinyl and double your pleasure with the 56-track double CD.

15. The Mayfields - 'Compact & Bijou'
They shared bills with the right bands (Pooh Sticks), recorded for the right labels (Ambition, Bus Stop) and showed up in the right fanzines (Sarah 4), but I never owned anything by the Mayfields until Firestation put this one together. Perfect late '80s indie pop.

14. David Bowie - 'Loving the Alien (1983-1988)'
I "showed off" my extensive '80s Bowie collection a couple of years ago. So, you may be wondering why I would shell out big bucks for this 11-disc set. Even with all of those singles, there was just too much here I didn't have, including a 2018 rethinking of 'Never Let Me Down,' live shows and a handful of other songs. Probably a needless extravagance, but it's so well put together I have no regrets.

13. Joe Strummer - '001'
On the day this one came out, my list of music wants was as long as my arm. This resulted in me going the cheap route for the basic double-disc edition. Some have argued this is for the uninitiated, and they may have a point, but I found there was quite a bit here I didn't have as my post-Clash collection of Strummer is a bit patchy.

12. Wire - 'Pink Flag', 'Chairs Missing', '154' Special Editions
The 80-page 7"-sized hardcover books contain the remastered original album and a disc or discs of singles, B-sides and demos. The texts, interviews and photos in the books make these just about the most beautiful artifacts in my music room.

11. Various Artists - 'C89'
Like the previous three editions presented by Cherry Red, I immediately bought this celebration of indie pop like it was a Pavlovian response. I do think the quality of the songs ticked down a bit (starting with 'C88,' actually), and it feels like a good place to stop... unless the label would like to go back to 'C81' and work from there. I would be up for that!

10. Yung Wu - 'Shore Leave'
Like a long lost Feelies album but with percussionist Dave Weckerman taking the lead. Every member from the 'Good Earth' era had a hand in it. I completely missed this one when it was released in 1987. 'Shore Leave' was my most listened to reissue in 2018.

9. Various Artists - 'The Sound of Leamington Spa' 'Vol. 8' and 'Vol. 9'
Firestation's signature series appeared to have ended in 2013, but then label founder Uwe Weigmann dropped a bombshell on these very pages last year. I don't know how he finds these obscure indie-pop bands from yesteryear, but I'm sure glad he does.

8. Various Artists - Optic Sevens Series
Has anyone noticed the 7" subscription series seems to be making a comeback? (See Slumberland and WIAIWYA labels for a couple of other stellar examples.) Optic Nerve is in the midst of releasing 12 classic indie-pop singles in 12 months. So far I have had Apple Boutique's "Love Resistance," the Siddeleys' "What Went Wrong This Time?" and East Village's "Cubans in the Bluefields" in my mailbox. The presentation of these reproductions has been jaw dropping. They have come with posters, postcards, pins and all kinds of extras, and in this day of declining vinyl quality, I have been floored by the sound of these artifacts.

7. Bow Wow Wow - 'Your Box Set Pet (The Complete Recordings 1980–1984)'
If you already had all of these remixes in your vinyl collection, I tip my cap. This remastered three-disc set is beautifully put together in a clam-shell box with well-done liner notes.

6. The Pale Fountains - 'Something on My Mind'
The '82 Crépuscule/Operation Twilight maxi single is here, as well as a handful of interesting studio tracks from Crépuscule compilations and other unreleased curiosities. This clear-vinyl edition includes an entire CD of live material from the same period. In a nutshell, this is everything you'll need before the band moved to Virgin.

5. Martin Newell - 'The Greatest Living Englishman'
I once wrote the name Newell should be included with the likes of English icons Hitchcock, Davies, McCartney and Partridge. Twenty-five years after its release, Captured Tracks celebrates this classic by restoring the original tracklist as envisioned by Newell and producer Andy Partridge, as well as including 10 pages of liner notes penned by the artist.

4. The Monochrome Set - 'Eligible Bachelors (Expanded Edition)'
Arguably the band's best album is blown up to three CDs and includes the 'Fin' live album and singles (not just from this time period), B-sides, rarities and BBC sessions from 1979-1981. If you don't have much from this band, start here.

3. The Wolfhounds - 'Hands in the Till: The Complete John Peel Sessions'
The name says it all. Three energy-packed sessions from the 'C86' vets recorded between March 1986 and January 1988 and put out by Slumberland.

2. Various Artists - Sarah Records Reissues
Even As We Speak - 'Feral Pop Frenzy',
Action Painting! - 'Trial Cuts (1989-1995)',
Boyracer - 'Fling Yr Bonnet Over The Windmill'
Back in the spring, Emotional Response Records mined the vaults of Sarah Records and released these albums (plus one more we will get to on the new releases list) as a bundle to fund a trip to Indietracks for Even As We Speak. You can purchase them all separately now, and I suggest you do. 'Fling Yr Bonnet Over The Windmill' is Boyracer's three singles on Sarah. 'Feral Pop Frenzy' is Even As We Speak's classic 1993 album in its entirety. 'Trial Cuts' is Action Painting's four singles (three for Sarah and one for Damaged Goods) plus unreleased material.

1. Candy Opera - '45 Revolutions Per Minute' and 'Rarities'
Apologies to Andy Pawlak, but I'm going to need a do over on that list of Firestation's best releases I put together last year. No. 1 with a bullet is '45 Revolutions Per Minute.' There's a little of Pawlak's sound in this Liverpool band, and you might hear early Aztec Camera and maybe some Prefab Sprout too. This Liverpool band is the very definition of shoulda been, and it warms the cockles that 30-plus years later these "lads" are receiving nothing but accolades from all who hear them.


Charity Chic said...

That's amighty impressive list Brian

TheRobster said...

Your bank balance must have taken a bit of a hammering this year! Have to say, that new version of Bowie's 'Never Let Me Down' from the box set is a vast improvement on the original. Not that that would be difficult, but it now sounds like a half decent album, and one or two tracks sound wonderful.

drew said...

I knew Candy Opera would be pretty high on your list. I think I sickened myself off with the constant play earlier in the year and the Pale Fountains re-release yes! I have not given that particular piece of vinyl the attention it deserves.

drew said...

btw the neither the Bettye LaVette or the Girl group comp get a release this side of the pond making them prohibitively expensive for me with so many other things on the list.

Brian said...

Drew, i believe I can get both of those at my local shop. If you want them, I can pick them up. No problem. The Lavette one can be tough to find even over here. The label it’s on only makes copies based on preorders and a small batch that goes to a handful of select shops. In other words, titles go in and out of print very quickly. The titles themselves are voted on by the public from three candidates. They release about one title a month.

Swiss Adam said...

Excellent post Brian, plenty to acquaint myself with that I've missed out this year.

McPop said...

Another great list, Brian. Some of these I have and many others I need to check out. Two of my faves from your list are Yung Wu and Martin Newell. Look forward to your favorite albums of 2018 list! Thanks - Matt

Dirk said...

This Mayfields-track is superb, Brian - I never heard of them in my life, I must admit!

Thanks for this one!

JC said...

Just wow......and awesome!!