Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Happy New Year!

You will never guess how I'm going to ring in the new year. Kidding. It's nearly time to play my favorite live show of all time... Big Country's New Year's Eve concert from Barrowland, circa 1983/1984. So let's pop the cork and raise a toast to Stuart, Bruce, Tony and Mark as they make a triumphant homecoming just after conquering America. Here's what they had to say about the special evening:

The Barrowland Ballroom is a great rock venue. It became our spiritual home. This gig could go down as one of the best moments in my gigging life. Long live the Barras and all who play in her."
-- Tony Butler

"Even just before the gig the atmosphere was electric, and just walking on stage can only be described as being at a cup final and scoring the winning goal."
-- Mark Brzezicki

"The excitement going on in the room that night was really a Scottish thing. We tried to make it a huge party, as much as possible."
-- Bruce Watson

"That was a memorable show. It was New Year's Eve, and everyone was out of their heads. I remember in the middle of the show - at midnight - an entire bagpipe band came on stage and did a few numbers. It sounded so cool, we decided to keep it in the recording."
-- Stuart Adamson

This year I'm going with the the show's hits and more words from Stuart. Whatever you're doing this evening, be safe, my friends. See you in 2020.

"Fields of Fire"
"Harvest Home"
"In a Big Country"/"Auld Lang Syne"
Interview with Stuart Adamson on the NYE show

Monday, December 30, 2019

Rest Easy, Sleepy

We lost one of the real giants of rockabilly last week when Sleepy LaBeef passed away at age 84. LaBeef was one of our last active performers linked to the birth of rock 'n' roll. He will be missed. This guy knew how to make a good record, but it's his live performances and physical stature that will be most remembered. Nick Lowe once said of his presence, "Sleepy speaks... liars tremble."

Speaking of Lowe, with the help of C.J. Chenier on accordion, G.E. Smith on guitars, T-Bone Wolk on bass and Steve Holley on drums, LaBeef played lead guitar and sang one of my all-time favorite Lowe covers for the 2001 tribute album 'Labour of Love: The Music of Nick Lowe.' Just try to keep those toes from tappin'. Thanks for the music, Sleepy.

"Half a Boy and Half a Man"

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Motown's Holiday Hits That Should Have Been

Merry Christmas to you all, and thanks for stopping by in 2019. I'm going rogue with the Christmas songs this year.

For casual fans of Motown, Kim Weston is probably best known for singing the duet "It Takes Two" with Marvin Gaye. I'm more than a casual fan of Weston's. She is, in fact, my favorite female voice on the label. Weston's song "Wish You a Merry Christmas" was written by Motown's A&R manager Mickey Stevenson, and she recorded it as an unknown and newly signed artist in 1962. She was just 22 years old. The song was ignored and not even included on Motown's huge holiday compilation, the double LP "A Motown Christmas, when it was released in 1973. Only big names like the Temptations, the Supremes, the Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, the Four Tops and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles were included. I could be wrong, but I don't think the song ever appeared on a compilation until 1994. Since then, however it has become a staple on just about every Motown Christmas album and reissue.

Kim Weston - "Wish You a Merry Christmas"

Marvin Gaye is a household name, but he doesn't pop up on the holiday radio stations too often. That's probably because his seasonal tune "I Want to Come Home for Christmas" was never a hit, and the lyrics are most unusual. Gaye helped write Forest Hairston's composition in 1972, during the Vietnam War, and the song is sung in the first person from the point of view of a POW. The lyrics begin this way:

I'd give anything to see
A little Christmas tree
And to hear, hear the laughter
Of children playing in the snow
To kiss my baby, under the mistletoe
But I can't promise my eyes this sight
Unless they stop the fight
'Cause I'm a prisoner of war
Lying here in my cell
Hoping my family is well
Wish they wouldn't worry so much about me
Just try to get us home
In time for the Christmas tree

The song wouldn't be released until 18 years later and six years after Gaye's death. It's a beautiful song but a tough one to hear next to the often upbeat holiday standards.

Marvin Gaye - "I Want to Come Home for Christmas"

Holiday Break and Back to School Simultaneously

It's funny how I can listen to the Ronettes, Darlene Love and the Crystals over and over, but I feel like if I'm subjected to Mariah Carey one more time, my car radio is going meet a yule log in the most unpleasant way. Thankfully, some new holiday classics have come down the chimney this year.

I have been giving 'The Molly Burch Christmas Album' plenty o' spins this season, but Austin's favorite chanteuse has had company in recent days with the release of the three-track "Christmas EP" from Cardiff band the School.

As you would expect from Liz Hunt and the gang, there are Spector flourishes throughout, as well as some nods to more contemporary acts like the Aislers Set and Shop Assistants. Well, if you are my age, those are considered contemporary. For you young whippersnappers, the folks at Elefant Records mention the sounds of Alvvays too.

This is a digital-only EP, and you can give yourself a gorgeous gift by listening to the whole shebang and purchasing here. Still not convinced? Give this video a go:

Your greatest Christmas wish will be fulfilled in late 2020 when the School's next long player is released. It has been a far to long, hasn't it?

Monday, December 23, 2019

A Festive 50: Favorite Songs and EPs of 2019

Here are the EPs, singles and album tracks that kept my head bobbing this year. There were quite a few other songs that belonged here, but in a nod to Mr. Peel, I like to keep it at 50. Apologies to these acts who were in the first 10 out: Cate Le Bon, Zebra Hunt, Lloyd Cole, Flying Fish Cove, Lisa Prank, Joy Cleaner, the Groove Farm, Elva, the New Pornographers and, especially, Seattle's own the Regrets. Their song "Swagger" was No. 51. There are a couple of songs on this list that debuted before this year but appeared on 2019 albums. As in the past, I considered these fair game. If a single had a spectacular B-side, I listed that too. Also, as usual, one slot per band. What did you like this year? What did I miss? Rants and raves in the comments, please. Much appreciated. It's a great way to discover new music.

50. Corduroy - "Portico"
49. Piroshka - "What's Next"
48. Patience - "The Pressure"
47. Magnapop - "Need to Change"
46. Star Tropics - "The Other Side of Midnight"
45. Mammoth Penguins - "Closure"
44. The Stroppies - "Cellophane Car"
43. The Catherines - "Just a Matter of Time Until I Cringe"
42. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - "In the Capital"
41. Failed Flowers - "Faces" b/w "Broken Screen"
40. The Perfect English Weather - "Sunny Studios - Live Acoustic EP"
39. The Lilac Time - "Return to Us"
38. Wilco - "Love Is Everywhere (Beware)"
37. Bob Mould - "Sunny Love Song"
36. House Deposit - "Cruise Control"
35. Parsnip - "Rip It Off"
34. The Monochrome Set - "Come to Me, Oh, My Beautiful"
33. Robert Forster - "Inferno (Brisbane in Summer)"
32. Boyracer - "Laissez Faire"
31. Rat Fancy - "Never is Forever"
30. that dog. - "Old LP"
29. Red Sleeping Beauty - "The Swedish Winter"
28. Champion of Youth - "Bearpits"
27. Comet Gain - "Mid 8T's"
26. Business of Dreams - "Chasing That Feeling"
25. The Boys With the Perpetual Nervousness - "Close the Doors"
24. Seablite - "Time Is Weird"
23. Jeanines - "Winter in the Dark"
22. Yola - "Faraway Look"
21. The Royal Landscaping Society - "Clean"
20. Tullycraft - "Passing Observations"
19. Mick Trouble - "Thank You Miss Margaret"
18. Math and Physics Club - "Indian Ocean (The End of Everything)"
17. The Claim - "The Journey"
16. The Ocean Blue - "Kings and Queens"
15. The Catenary Wires - "Sixteen Again"
14. Mighty Mighty - "Where Would I Be?"
13. The Ocean Party - "Nothing Grows EP"
12. Molly Burch - "Only One" b/w "Your Party"
11. den Baron - "Bonving"
10. The Hit Parade - "Joey's Girl"
9. The Proctors - "Letters to the Girl"
8. Jasmine Minks - "Step by Step" b/w "Gravity"
7. A Certain Smile - "Bae EP"
6. Lucy Dacus - "2019 EP"
5. Nick Lowe - "Love Starvation"/"Trombone"
4. The Popguns - "Carrying the Fire EP"
3. Le SuperHomard - "Paper Girl"
2. Robyn Hitchcock and Andy Partridge - "Planet England EP"
1. Jetstream Pony - "I Close My Eyes" b/w "It'll Take More Than a Friday"

Friday, December 20, 2019

Favorite Albums of 2019

30. Patience - 'Dizzy Spells'
There were more than a few vying for this last spot, and I had it whittled down to Wilco (been a while, Jeff!), Yola and an excellent sampler from Emotional Response Records before choosing this Roxanne Clifford vehicle. I was sorely disappointed when Patience sounded nothing like her old band, Veronica Falls. 'Dizzy Spells' should be too dance oriented for my taste. Upon repeated listens, however, she won me over. There is one song in particular I can't get out of my head and will rank high on my list.

29. Mammoth Penguins - 'There's No Fight We Can't Both Win'
This trio got my attention with "Propped Up" in 2015 (No. 13 on my list of top songs that year). Since then they have become louder, tighter and much more in your face. Let's just say Emma Kupa tackles topics head on, and that will be grating to some but works for me.

28. The New Pornographers - 'In the Morse Code of Brake Lights'
I used to be a huge fan, but I must admit I started to lose interest after 'Challengers' and stopped buying after 'Brill Bruisers.' Heck, I didn't even know Dan Bejar was no longer around (although that always felt like a matter of time). This album may not pop like the early days, but A.C. Newman can still write a great song, and Neko Case certainly hasn't lost the pipes. Now I'm even considering going back to get 'Whiteout Conditions.'

27. Flying Fish Cove - At Moonset'
Here's the first of two bands from my hometown of Seattle. Check out this description on their Bandcamp age: "A band that invokes the spirits of Heavenly, Teenage Fanclub, and The Pastels." I would gasp at the audacity if it weren't spot on.

26. Bob Mould - 'Sunshine Rock'
I feel like this release fell through the cracks a bit which is a real pity because this is a happy Mould that sounds a lot like Sugar during the days of 'File Under: Easy Listening.' I wish I had this guy's energy.

25. TC&I - 'Naked Flames: Live at Swindon Arts Centre'
Terry Chambers and Colin Moulding take on your favorites from their days in XTC along with a few from their 2017 album 'Great Aspirations.' Slower numbers like "Wonderland" and "Grass" are especially beautiful and seem made for this setting.

24. Champion of Youth - 'Champion of Youth'
You don't have to miss Manchester band Amida any longer. They are more or less back with a new moniker. If you miss Pavement as well, this seven-song mini album is going to warm your cockles.

23. Mighty Mighty - 'Misheard Love Songs'
'C86' vets return after 30 years (this is a trend, as this list illustrates), and I couldn't be happier. The lads are contenders for my track of the year too. Thanks to Uwe at Firestation Records for getting this one out there.

22. Rat Fancy - 'Stay Cool'
I have been a loyal listener of Diana Barraza since her days in Sweater Girls. She isn't about to get rid of me now. This album is the kind of pop that's impossible to play without doing some dancing and singing along of your own.

21. The Stroppies - 'Whoosh!'
This won't be the last Melbourne act to appear on this list. Must be the lager. Influences from the Clean to Stephen Malkmus can be heard on this, their first proper album. I wonder how many times I listened to "Cellophane Car" this year? Sounds like a cover from some Flying Nun band.

20. The Groove Farm - 'Groovy Pharmacy'
Thirty years after their last long player, the garage-rock aficionados (and Subway Organization vets) bring the noise like no time has passed at all. Yep, they still live by the formula of 20% Shop Assistants and 80% the Seeds. This was the most pleasant surprise of 2019.

19. Lloyd Cole - 'Guesswork'
He does keep us guessing, doesn't he? This album is pure electropop, and I tossed it aside after one listen thinking it would collect dust. A month later I gave it another go. Slowly, I came to realize this is actually classic Cole with a slightly different veneer. With more time this one would have likely moved up the list.

18. The Lilac Time - 'Return to Us'
I almost took a pass on this one. Thanks to reader Friend of Rachel Worth for nudging me in the right direction. My tastes lean toward the Fonatana albums of the late '80s and early '90s, and the songs I had heard before buying this one didn't seem to fill that bill. Turns out great songwriting prevails.

17. Cate Le Bon - 'Reward'
She's a true original whose sound in the past has been far enough from the mainstream to keep her from being a thing. 'Reward' is easily her most accessible work. If you have been scared off in the past, this is the time to climb aboard. It won't be long before you realize those earlier albums are amazing. For Cate at her best, check out this perfromance at KEXP from earlier this year.

16. Joy Cleaner - 'You're So Jaded'
Their sound has edged towards Matthew Sweet power-pop territory... so what's not to like?

15. Zebra Hunt - 'Trade Desire'
Without a doubt, this is my favorite band here in Seattle. Their last album, 'In Phrases,' made my top 10 in 2017. This one is even better, but the competition is a little steeper this year. Expect more sounds of the Feelies and Flying Nun, but they go to new places too.

14. House Deposit - 'Reward for Effort'
These Aussies said they were influenced by the Chills and the Feelies. Seems to be a reoccurring theme here, eh? That was enough for me to give them a go. This is my plea to indie labels everywhere: Pick up this quartet up and release this on a physical format other than cassette.

13. The Catenary Wires - 'Til the Morning'
Amelia and Rob continue to turn it down out in the Kent countryside with moving results. They really are indie-pop's Serge and Brigitte.

12. The Monochrome Set - 'Fabula Mendax'
That lengthy 17-year hiatus is so long ago now it's difficult to even remember. This is the sixth album since returning to us in 2012 and the fourth in five years, and I'm always among the first in line to hear Bid's acerbic lyrics and catchy melodies. I haven't been disappointed yet. If I did a list of best shows I saw in 2019, they would take the top spot too.

11. Business of Dreams - 'Ripe for Anarchy'
Corey Cunningham is not one to rest on his laurels. You might know him from Terry Malts or Smokescreens, whose album 'Used to Yesterday' was No. 10 on this list last year. There is the jangle you would expect but against the backdrop of beautiful '80s-era synths. These songs get in your head and stay there.

10. The Ocean Blue - 'Kings and Queens / Knaves and Thieves'
I lost track of this band after the Sire albums many years ago but rediscovered them with the excellent 'Ultramarine' in 2013. This might not be one you see on everyone's list, but the "it" boys of '89 still got it.

9. Robert Forster - 'Inferno'
The former Go-Between seems downright happy on his seventh solo album, and he should be because this one rivals 'the Evangelist,' my personal favorite.

8. The Claim - 'The New Industrial Ballads'
The Kent band makes a triumphant return after more than a quarter century, and they weren't aiming to just jump on the nostalgia circuit. There was much to say, and they use much more than jangle to get their point across.

7. Seablite - 'Grass Stains and Novocaine'
Jangle and fuzz is a lovely combination, isn't it? Members of this San Fran quartet must have had parents with great record collections. If this was 30 years ago, Martin Whitehead would have invited them to join the Subway Organization.

6. Comet Gain - 'Fireraisers Forever!'
They're back, and they're angry. Can you blame them? This followup to the sublime 'Paperback Ghosts' is closer to the old stuff than, say, Belle and Sebastian.

5. Tullycraft - 'The Railway Prince Hotel'
Twee is not a bad word. This is pure pop for now people! he Seattle band makes their best album in a flawless nearly 25-year-career. Please don't wait so long between albums.

4. Jeanines - 'Jeanines'
Anyone band that covers the Siddeleys will get my attention. Alicia Jeanine and Jed Smith wear their '80s indie-pop influences on their sleeves through 16 songs that rarely exceed two minutes.

3. Mick Trouble - 'Here's the Mick Trouble LP'
Hmm, how do I explain this one? Jed Smith of My Teenage Stride and Jeanines has this alter ego named Mick Trouble who would have been really been something about 40 years ago if only he hadn't screwed up and missed his Peel Session. Seems ridiculous until you listen to the album. It sounds like something you would have heard on Stiff in the very early days. Some have compared this to Television Personalities too. This lark will be too big a leap for some... but not for me. I seriously considered this for the top spot.

2. The Hit Parade - 'The Golden Age of Pop'
Julian and the lads aren't No. 1 for one simple reason. I waited five years for a new album only to have six of the 12 songs come from singles spread out over the past three years. I worked pretty damn hard to track down those Record Store Day 45s from shops halfway around the world too. I'll get over it. Being a quality LP helps.

1. Le SuperHomard - 'Meadow Lane Park'
The French band's debut album made my top 10 in 2016, and this one somehow betters it by miles. The hype sticker on the plastic sleeve describes them as follows: "A mix of Stereolab, Broadcast, St. Etienne, Air, the High Llamas, the Gentle People, Komeda..." High praise, indeed.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Favorite Reissues of 2019

In an attempt to make myself feel young and relevant, I always try to split my bounty between reissues and new releases. This year, I failed miserably. The old stuff was just too good. This is the longest list of reissues I have ever had in the 11 years of doing this on these pages, and that's with leaving an incredibly long list of wants I didn't pick up because they were either too expensive or seemed silly to buy because I owned so much of the material. That would almost make sense if not for the fact there are plenty of titles below I didn't really need to buy... again. We the music obsessed are a strange lot. I could have made this a top 40, but I combined some titles and created meaningless ties to keep it to a strong 30.

A few bands you won't find on the list but would be here if money was no object include Happy Mondays, Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie, Chet Baker, the Replacements, the Dukes Of Stratosphear, A Certain Ratio, the Pooh Sticks, OMD, Beat Happening and the Go-Betweens. I asked Santa for the mammoth 'G Stands for Go-Betweens Volume 2' box (retails for $180!), but I'm not sure I was that good this year. Outside shot the Pooh Sticks 7" box could be under the tree too.

Seeing these together, I find it interesting the CD and vinyl formats are pretty evenly split. Some of these were available only on CD, but I went CD in some instances because the vinyl was so expensive. Many of these were imports and killers to the pocketbook. Josef K and Stephen Duffy, for examples, were $35 each before shipping. Madness! On with the countdown. I hope you find something that piques your interest...

30. (tie) Queue Dance - 'Full Stop'
Jo and Nick were made for Paul Weller's Respond label. Too bad they didn't form until the late '80s.

30. (tie) Andy Pawlak - 'Lost Demos 1985-1986' and 'Low Beat Folk'
'Demos' expands on last year's excellent 'In the Kitchen' album. As for 'Low Beat Folk,' Pawlak records under the moniker Monkey, and a Japanese label resurrects it many years after a major label shelved it. Bad decision, Universal!

29. Prefab Sprout - 'I Trawl the Megahertz'
This is miles from the pop of 'Steve McQueen.' Paddy is pretty out there with this orchestral manoeuvre, but the results range from interesting to stunning.

28. Remember Sports - 'Sunchokes'
The original 2014 pop-punk album clocked in at about 20 minutes of angst but is now twice as long with bonus tracks. With lyrics like "you're looking real clean in your jeans and it's making me sick, and I haven't showered since Tuesday and my shoes are too big," if I was a surly teenager, this would be my favorite purchase this year.

27. Sparks - 'Past Tense: The Best Of Sparks'
This was to plug some serious gaps in the collection. Do yourself a favor and opt for the 58-song three-disc version. You won't be disappointed.

26. Ian Broudie - 'Tales Told'
First released in '04, this is the pop genius' one and only solo album, and it's issued on vinyl for the first time. Don't expect his usually sunny synth self, but it's quality nonetheless.

25. The Gerbils - 'Are You Sleepy'
Scott Spillane was the resident horn player at the peak of the Elephant 6 collective, but the Gerbils were his baby. This '98 album is as weird and wonderful as you're thinking.

24. Various Artists - 'The Sound of Leamington Spa: German Edition'
Uwe does it again. Firestation sticks around home and still manages to find plenty of obscure jangle pop.

23. The Wedding Present - 'Tommy 30'
This may not have worked as well as the 'George Best' redo, but it's still a joy to hear Gedge interpret his earliest songs through a mature lens. Yes, you could argue this belongs on the list of new releases.

22. The Nightingales - 'No Love Lost - Expanded Edition'
The brilliant 2012 album goes vinyl (limited to 500) for the first time and is blown out to a double. Proceeds go to Robert & Co. for a trip to America to support the release of a documentary film about them. Big thanks for that! This band has quietly (well, not so quietly, but you get my meaning) had a hell of a decade.

21. Pylon - "Cool/Dub"
DB Recs had a stable of Georgia's stars... the B-52's, Oh-OK, Guadalcanal Diary, the Swimming Pool Q's. As this debut single shows, nobody topped Pylon.

20. Stephen Duffy - 'I Love My Friends'
Duffy and new label Needle Mythology play with the '97 tracklist a bit and release the album on vinyl for the first time. Completely missed this one back then.

19. Mick Trouble - "It's The Mick Trouble EP"
I also missed this 7" first time around a couple of years ago, but it got a second life with the release of a 2019 LP (sold separately) via Emotional Response Records. More on this mysterious bloke when we get to the list of new releases.

18. Supercrush - 'Never Let You Drift Away'
Seattle duo has its first four singles (front and back) compiled. Think Teenage Fanclub.

17. Prince - 'Originals' and '1999: Super Deluxe Edition'
A big thumbs up to Prince's estate for opening up the vault. On 'Originals,' hear the demos of the songs Prince wrote and gave to other artists. I opted for the five CD/one DVD version of '1999' for the great price and because I have had the original double album on vinyl since I was a kid. Now this is how to put together a deluxe edition.

16. The Popguns - 'Love Junky'
This '95 album is issued on vinyl for the first time. If you only know the Brighton band from the Midnight Music era, you've missed a lot.

15. Television Personalities - 'Some Kind Of Happening (Singles 1978-1989)' and 'Some Kind Of Trip (Singles 1990-1994)'
Rediscover the genius of Daniel Treacy through the 50-plus songs lovingly assembled by Fire Records.

14. Various Artists - 'A Sunday Records Compilation'
The Midwest has had a few indie labels all about the jangle, and Sunday is just about the best of them. They brought back their legendary and long sold out 'Sunny Sunday Smile' (1993) and 'Songs About Our Past' (1996) comps in one package... a must for all indie-pop enthusiasts.

13. The Motorcycle Boy - 'Scarlet'
Former members of Meat Whiplash and Shop Assistants had an indie smash for Rough Trade with "Big Rock Candy Mountain" before signing to Chrysalis. Their LP never made it off the shelf until now.

12. Josef K - 'The Scottish Affair (Part 2)'
Les Disques du Crepuscule presents a live show recorded from the mixing desk at Beursschouwburg Arts Centre in Brussels on April 8, 1981. This one sounds better than both shows on 'Crazy to Exist.'

11. The Claim - 'Boomy Tella'
What a year! A Turntable Friend dusts off this album from 1988 and also releases their first full-length LP in 31 years. More on that gem when we get to the next list.

10. Friends Again - 'Trapped and Unwrapped' and 'In the Beginning'
One of my favorite bands goes deluxe double CD with LP, B-sides, 12" versions, demos and the EP. I didn't need much from this one, but I couldn't resist. My vinyl has been sounding tired anyway. A couple of years ago a little birdie delivered a slew of demos to my inbox. 'In the Beginning' could be the start of a series of demo-related releases.

9. Dolly Mixture - 'Other Music'
I made a major investment in the tough-to-find three-disc 'Everything and More' a few years back, but this covers some songs not on that box set. If you don't already have it, 'Demonstration Tapes' is available again on vinyl too, but hurry. I'll stick to my CD copy of that one.

8. Various - Optic Sevens 1.0
Optic Nerve's first series of 12 classic indie 7" singles in 12 months wrapped up in the spring of 2019. Selections from East Village, Apple Boutique, the Servants, the Siddeleys and the Wake were my favorites.
Optic Sevens 2.0 has already kicked off and is certain to be on this list next year.

7. Kate Bush - 'The Other Sides'
For those who already had her albums years ago, these four discs of mixes, B-sides and covers practically made buying those fancy album reissues moot.

6. The Springfields - 'Singles 1986-1991'
Here are the five singles Ric and Paul released on Sarah, Picture Book, Summershine and Seminal Twang (plus one extra song) before the Velvet Crush days.

5. Baby Lemonade - 'Baby Lemonade'
Roque at Cloudberry Records gives these late '80s Scottish indie popsters the attention they always deserved. Other than appearances on comps, all I ever had before this was the 7" of "A Secret Goldfish."

4. Jazzateers - 'Blood Is Sweeter Than Honey'
The shelved second album (which included new faces and was post Bourgie Bourgie) has never been released as a stand-alone LP and never on vinyl... until now. I can't seem to take this off my turntable. Beautiful presentation by Creeping Bent too.

3. Stereolab - 'Emperor Tomato Ketchup' and 'Dots And Loops'
This is my favorite era of the band so I splurged for the expensive expanded vinyl editions. These look and sound spectacular.

2. Echo & the Bunnymen - 'The John Peel Sessions 1979-1983'
Remember that legendary four-track session from '79 Strange Fruit put out in 1988? That's about 12 minutes long. This is 78 minutes and takes you from there to just before the release of 'Ocean Rain.'

1. Various Artists - 'Big Gold Dreams: A Story Of Scottish Independent Music 1977-1989'
Cherry Red beats all of their other geographical box sets with this one because, hey, it's Scotland. Even if you're a fanatic, there is bound to be enough here you haven't heard to keep you interested. For me, there were quite a few new discoveries on disc 1.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Tough-to-Find Comp From East Village Goes Vinyl

Slumberland Records is really sticking it to me. Even though I already had the Summershine compilation 'The Ballad of Ric Menck' (on two formats, I might add), I couldn't resist picking up doppelganger 'Singles 1986-1991' from the Springfields a couple of weeks ago. Now comes news the label has raided the Summershine vaults again to reissue the singles collection 'Hotrod Hotel' by East Village... on vinyl! Like a bad joke, I paid big bucks for it on CD via Discogs a couple of years ago because I couldn't have dreamed it would be reissued again. Just to rub it in, this past year, I bought the 7" reissue of "Cubans in the Bluefields" as part of Optic Nerve Recording's excellent singles series.

There's no way I would consider buying this, then, right? Wrong. Slumberland's reissues are always done with such care, and the insert and liner notes alone would have me reaching for the wallet. It just so happens there are a couple of bonuses that have me excited too. The album includes the original version of "Freeze Out" first issued as half of a split flexi that kicked off Bob Stanley's Caff label back in 1989. That is not on my CD. Also, if you order quickly and directly from Slumberland, they are going to throw in a beautiful 'Drop Out' album poster. Yes, it's the one you're thinking... only bigger (clears throat). Preorder now for an expected Jan. 24 release.