Hello Honky Tonks. There’s no sugarcoating this, October is a whopper. There is no end of stuff coming out this month, in fact I’m surprised there’s anything left for the rest of the year. Basically, all the big guns want your cash and the space on your shelves. Fortunately, among the likes of Beatles, Stones, R.E.M.s, Spices and Floyds, there’s still futurists, Japanese pop, bowlcut indie, metal, country, gospel, Latin soul, lovers rock, French pop, German wonk and more to delve into. So, let’s get to it.
Nothing says it’s nearly Christmas than news of a Beatles box set. For 25 years now, what’s left of the Ain’t She Sweet (ft. Tony Sheridan) hitmakers have always managed to find something down the back of their sofas, be it an Anthology, a Greatest Hits or, more recently, a multi-disc boxset just in time for any Christmas wishlists. But you know, they knew their way around a tune, and to hear various iterations of albums coalescing before your ears will never not be fascinating.
This year, it’s the turn of 1970’s Let It Be (Apple), an album long considered to be the one where you can literally hear them splitting up on, what with George Harrison walking out at one point and everyone getting cheesed off with other at some other point. It became the band’s final album, released a month after they split, even if it was actually made prior to 1969’s Abbey Road.
After the divisive reswizzle that was 2003’s Let It Be (Naked), it’s an album that’s had its work cut out as regards ‘sounding proper’ as both Lennon and McCartney have either dismissed one version or the other, what with the problematic Phil Spector mix proving divisive. Hopefully, now, this super deluxe 5CD + Blu-ray set, 4LP + 12” EP vinyl, 2CD, and standard CD, limited edition picture disc and standard 1LP vinyl release should finally address any concern, for the original album has been remastered in a new mix by Giles Martin, there’s also Glyn Johns’ 1970 mix and there’s numerous rehearsals, jams (27 in fact, that are previously unreleased) and there’s a lovely book (Get Back) on offer too.
Kinda mad that in 1981, The Rolling Stones had ‘only’ been going 18 years and yet were already seen as old duffers then, which is unfair really. It’s 18 years since The Killers first turned up, and no one appears to be shading them as old men.
However, time being a wild and crazy concept, 18 years felt like forever back then, in fact it’s crazier now that 1981’s Tattoo You (Polydor/Interscope/UME) is returning for its 40th anniversary with a whole new disc of recently-completed outtakes plus a previously unreleased concert recorded at Wembley, that it feels like only yesterday(ish).
Anyway, the album was the home of eternal Stones show-opener Start Me Up (their last Top 10 hit in the UK, fact fans) and still stands up. Tattoo You now comes in a 4CD/1LP box set variant and a 5LP set, complete with a lenticular artwork. There’s a handier 1LP and 1CD version too, and if you want to go into the land of t-shirts and cassette bundles, then fill your boots over on the band’s official site.
Lots of people liked R.E.M., in fact at one point they were feasibly the biggest band on the planet, and since they decided to pipe up and say “that’s it, we’re off!” after numerous ‘return to form’ albums, they’ve become a much-missed affair.
Anyhoo, they’re celebrating 25 years of New Adventures In Hi-Fi (Craft) this month, in fact their first ‘return to form’ album after some numbskulls claimed Monster wasn’t very good, phffft, and was their last album with drummer Bill Berry – with a Deluxe Edition that includes B-sides and rarities, previously unreleased video footage, in-depth interviews with all four founding band members, as well as comments by Patti Smith and Thom Yorke and never-before-seen photos.
It’s also home to hits such as E-Bow The Letter, Bittersweet Me and one of their finest singles, Electrolite. An Expanded Edition is also available as a 2CD including the remastered album along with B-sides and rarities and an exclusive poster and four collectible postcards, as well as a booklet. There’s a 2LP set, pressed on 180-gram vinyl, and there was a limited edition pressing on clear and black marbled vinyl exclusively at R.E.M.’s official store (limited to 1,000 worldwide – so that’s probably long gone by now), along with special New Adventures In Hi-Fi merchandise.
There’s probably not a vast number of regular readers here up for a 42-disc box set of Judas Priest, but their Reflections: 50 Heavy Metal Years Of Music (Sony) is definitely worth a mention, seeing as it’s a whopping £350.
Led by the iconic no-fucks-given, riding-on-to-stages-on-a-motorbike frontman Rob Halford, a man who’d pop into local sex shops ‘for stage gear’, it contains all their studio albums and another dozen of live shows.
While not complete – they’ve missed a chance to finally issue their SAW sessions, where they underwent a ‘hope you like our new direction’ moment of covering The Stylistics’ You Are Everything – it’s a grand celebration featuring as much Priest as you can shake a fist at. There’s also a single disc round-up just in case for any penny-watching rockers.
Right, we’re almost 800 words into this month’s column and had a fair bit of men. Let’s address that RIGHT NOW with the news that this year’s National Album Day has a lady-facing focus. Yus! After recent years offering you the rare opportunity to purchase the first Stone Roses album in a different colour, there are actually some fantastic titles among this year’s 36 album selection.
Pick of the bunch includes Carroll Thompson’s Hopelessly in Love (Trojan) which was first released in 1981 and has gone on to be considered to be the greatest lovers rock album of all time. British singer Thompson was dubbed the queen of lovers rock into the bargain, and she co-wrote and co-produced the album, something considered quite unusual in reggae back then. Despite not scraping the chart, it sold 35,000 copies – again, something unheard of for a homegrown reggae release back then. It’s being reissued on blue vinyl, and there’s an expanded CD version with five extra tracks along with new sleevenotes and photos from Carroll’s own archive. You are therefore instructed to check it out if you haven’t already.
Further NAD albums? Well, there’s also… *deep breath* Belinda Carlisle! Who has chosen a selection of her recordings for Nobody Owns Me, a special limited-edition bespoke compilation of hits and new tracks. Kylie Minogue’s 2001 meisterwerk Fever! Home to Love At First Sight, In Your Eyes and Can’t Get You Out Of My Head, which is back in a white vinyl limited doodah. Lykke Li’s Wounded Rhymes! celebrating its 10th anniversary with an expanded edition. Kirsty MacColl’s Kite and Tropical Brainstorm albums also turn up on turquoise and purple vinyl. Sinead O’Connor’s 1997 collection So Far… The Best of offers smashes Nothing Compares 2 U, Fire On Babylon and the frankly brilliant Mandinka among others on clear vinyl. Marianne Faithfull’s iconic Broken English is repressed on pink vinyl, as is Mariah Carey’s Emotions – now there’s a double act.
Plus there’s Gabrielle’s 2000 long-player Rise, Ms Dynamite’s Mercury-scoring A Little Deeper, Solange’s A Seat At the Table, Dido’s No Angel, Patti Smith’s Horses, Siouxsie & The Banshees’ Tinderbox, I’m Still Here – a 3CD set from Eartha Kitt, plus releases from Debbie Gibson, Haim, Katie Melua, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Elena Urioste and Tom Poster, Eurielle, Eva Cassidy, Fanny Azzuro, Joan Jett, Garbage, the Woman to Woman team of Beverley Craven, Judie Tzuke and Julia Fordham, Lea Birringer, Maria Muldaur, Marin Alsop, Omara Portuondo, Róisín Murphy, Stevie Nicks, Weyes Blood, Mayfield Soul, Billie Holiday and Xenia Rubinos. If all that’s a bit too adventurous, there’s a picture disc of Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black available too. Phew.
Another NAD-related highlight comes from 1981 and is something of a big deal. Donna Summer was pretty much enormous between 1976 and 1982 – duets with Barbra Streisand, numerous dance chart smashes, and not to mention her involvement in inventing the future with Giorgio Moroder on the greatest single of all time I Feel Love – and yet when she handed over her latest album, I’m A Rainbow to Geffen’s record execs, they weren’t having it (the clots) and reckoned she needed to record more R&B-type stuff due to the changing music climate.
I’m A Rainbow was produced by Moroder and Pete Bellotte, and aside from a belated release in 1996, has spent 40 years languishing in the cupboard save for a couple of tracks ending up on soundtracks for films such as Flashdance and Fast Times At Ridgemont High. UNTIL NOW. I’m A Rainbow, Recovered & Recoloured (Demon) has been reimagined by a host of producers such as Junior Vasquez, Le Flex, Figo Sound, Jean Tonique, Ladies On Mars and Oliver Nelson, and has finally been given the bells and whistles-style release it deserved, in 2XLP and CD book versions. Yay!
Were you really a pop star during the mid-to-late ’80s if Shep Pettibone hadn’t reswizzled your hits? No, not really. You were probably too busy being Morrissey or something. That’s the general vibe of a superlative new compilation entitled Arthur Baker Presents Dance Masters – The Shep Pettibone Master-Mixes (Demon) collecting 47 tracks across a 4CD set or 32 tracks across two 2LP sets (one this month, part 2 in Nov).
With a cast list including George Michael, New Order, Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam, Elton John, Whitney Houston, The Flirts and The B-52’s, it’s really quite tremendous. Of course, the elephant in the room is the lack of Shep’s work with Madonna, but, mate, that dame doesn’t licence out ANYTHING, so that was never gonna happen. Anyway, if cowbells and dimension and new angles taken on legendary hits are your thing, it’s essential listening.
Also in the remix market this month are Simply Red. I know! Remixed Vol. 1 (1985-2000) (Warners) collects together some of their toe-taps together on a 2CD set, seven of which are previously unreleased, and there’s extensions of all the crackers – Something Got Me Started, Fairground, It’s Only Love etc – reswizzled by the likes of Master At Work, Jah Wobble and David Morales.
I’m surprised that Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, hell, even ABBA are bothering to be the biggest release this Q4, especially now that Hey Duggee: The Greatest Woofs by Duggee and The Squirrels has landed on the schedules.
Seriously, any album that contains Stick Song, Electric Eels, Toothbrushing Song, recent single Step By Step (featuring Nigel The Crab) and their Hot Chip tribute A Capella redefines the metrics in which we know as legendary. There’s a 22-track zoetrope picture disc vinyl, and a 32-track CD. Riot if you must to get a copy, it’s possibly the greatest album of all time.
Sugababes reissue their debut album One Touch (London) this month, a year on from its 20th anniversary (so effectively 21st – pedant Ed). Containing bangers such as Overload, Run For Cover and New Year, it was the only album featuring the original line-up, before they implemented a draft system wherein everyone in the UK was at risk of being called up to replace a departing member.
This anniversary edition comes as a remastered 1LP, a 2CD 35 track collection which features the original 12 track album, along with eight additional B-sides and previously unreleased demo tracks. Meanwhile, a second, 15-track disc includes remixes from MNEK, Metronomy, Blood Orange and Majestic.
I’ll tell you what you want, what you really, possibly want, if you’re so inclined, and that’s the Spice Girls first album. Yes, to celebrate 25 years since Sporty, Ginger, Baby, Scary and Posh trampled into our consciousnesses, they’re re-releasing their chart-gobbling debut as Spice Girls 25 (Virgin) in a 2CD set, the first time that the album has ever been expanded, which includes B-sides, demos, remixes and the like. It comes as a book-type affair, with essays and exclusive photos.
That’s not all! There’s the original album available as a zoetrope picture disc (ie: makes your eyes go wobbly) and there are five (naturally) different editions on vinyl and cassette with each one depicting each of the girls. There are also slipmats available over on their official store. If you have deep pockets and want to give someone literally everything (all that joy can bring etc), perhaps if they’ve given over a spare room as a shrine or something, you’re looking at £260. Or you may just find it cheaper to distance yourself from such people. I jest, of course, as pop music is important and 2 Become 1 is a cracker of a tune.
Another belated anniversary this month comes in the form of The Charlatans’ box set A Head Full of Ideas (Then Recordings), available as a 2LP/1CD set with a selection of hits from across the mop-topped minstrels’ 30 years, a 3LP/2CD option with a handpicked variety of live tracks, and a 5LP box set which offers up demos and remixes, a bonus 7 inch and a signed poster and book.
If it’s original Charlatans albums you’re after, and you’re watching your bank balance, their self-titled chart-topper from 1995 (Beggars Banquet), with singles Just When You’re Thinking Things Over, Just Lookin’ and Crashin’ In, is now back in a delicious double marbled yellow vinyl edition.
Get in loser, we’re off to France now for a cosmic selection of tremendous Franco-groovers! Pop Psychédélique (The Best of French Psychedelic Pop 1964-2019) (Two-Piers Records) is a 20-track 2LP collection which brings together such wonders as Brigitte Bardot’s Harley Davidson, Serge Gainsbourg’s Requiem Pour Un Con, Nino Ferrer’s Les Cornichons, Jean Jacques Perrey’s EVA, Stereolab’s Cybele’s Reverie, Pierre Henry’s Psyche Rock and Air’s Don’t Be Light. In short, it’s a parfait introduction all in one package, and a superbe bande son to gallivanting around town sexily while smoking gauloises.
To coin a phrase from Infernal’s No 2 smash from 2006, we’re now – sort-of – going from Paris to Berlin, where we find Eins und Zwei und Drei und Vier – Deutsche Experimentelle Pop-Musik 1980-86 (Bureau B) and it’s a glorious 2LP racket of German post-punk and inept homemade disco.
Across 20 tracks there’s magical, scrappy treats from Xao Seffcheque, Östro 430, Populäre Mechanik, P!OFF? and Die Zimmermänner and more. It was a time when everything quite literally went, and the conviction over competence spirit of such bangers as Mein Walkman ist kaput and Eine Königin mit Rädern untendran will have you longing for a wall to be built through your flat. Especially if your other half isn’t very keen.
Pink Floyd’s 1987 album A Momentary Lapse Of Reason (EMI) has been remixed and updated! SCREAM! Well, it was originally part of their Later Years box set, but is now enjoying a standalone release.
Naturally stereo versions are available on CD and 2LP vinyl while the CD+DVD have 5.1 surround mixes, music videos, concert screen films, a documentary and some bonus live tracks. The surround mix on the DVD is 5.1 Dolby Digital (48/16) and DTS (48/16). On blu-ray it’s 5.1 DTS Master Audio (96/24). Never let it be said that I don’t know how to turn you on, yeah? Now mop yourself up and put your trousers back on.
Perhaps the most BritPop of BritPop, Menswear’s dalliance in the sun of guitar-based larkery during 1995 was brief but glorious – Bidding wars! Magazine covers! A handful of hits!
Now, their first five singles: I’ll Manage Somehow, Daydreamer, Stardust, Sleeping In and Being Brave have been collected into a 5X7 boxset called Big In Japan – The 7” Singles (Demon) complete with original sleeves, coloured vinyl, postcards, a sticker and a signed photo (if you’re sharpish).
Ash Ra Tempel’s second album Schwingungen (MG Art) is back. Back. BACK! on vinyl for a 50th anniversary edition this month! Featuring the smash hit Darkness: Flowers Must Die (It wasn’t a hit, Ian, only in your addled mind – Ed) it’s considered to be something of a masterpiece, the whole remastering hoohah has been overseen by Manuel Göttsching himself.
If you can ever recall having a fringe, The Sun Shines Here: The Roots Of Indie Pop (1980-1984) (Cherry Red) is the 3CD box set for you.
A sort of companion piece to Cherry Red’s Scared To Get Happy, it’s 74 tracks with infant indie pop by Teardrop Explodes, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Pulp, Scritti Politti, Altered Images and of course Grab Grab The Haddock. There’s a host of exclusives and new-to-CD numbers, such as the second single by The Suede Crocodiles, The Wee Cherubs and The Cinematics, so you can finally take down that online protest. Hurrah! (Yes, they’re on it too).
It’s a Good, Good Feeling: The Latin Soul of Fania Records (The Singles) (Fania) is an 89 track 4CD collection with a bonus 7 inch housed in a lovely book, or as a slightly abridged 28 track 2LP version in a limited orange vinyl (which doesn’t help it getting confused with Fanta, but that’s Latin music for you).
Founded in New York back in 1964, Fania became the home of Latin soul during a rude period of wonder alongside Stax, Motown and Atlantic, popularising latin soul and boogaloo and offering hits of instant sunshine with smashes by Ray Barretto, Joe Bataan, Bobby Valentín, and Larry Harlow. This collection covers the bulk of it from 1965 to 1975, and it’s utterly sensational. The gifted-if-tragic Ralfi Pagan’s cover of Bread’s Make It With You is worth the entrance fee alone.
People Get Ready: The Curtis Mayfield Songbook (ACE) is a triumphant 1CD selection of the great soulman’s work be-lunged by a variety of artists, with treats such as Patti Jo’s terrific Make Me Believe In You, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um by Major Lance alongside numbers by Staple Singers, Impressions, Gladys Knight & The Pips and John Legend.
Everything Louder Forever is the understated title for a new compilation celebrating the music of Motörhead out this month on Sony. There’s a 4LP/ 2CD version as well as a 2LP edit which collects together some of the iconic trio’s hits such as Motörhead, We Are Motörhead and some that don’t actually mention their name in the title like Ace Of Spades, Overkill and On Your Feet Or On Your Knees. Needless to say, it’s fucking amazing.
In other, ‘is this October, or is it ROCKtober, yeah? Waaaarrrgh!’ themed scenes, Brazil’s Sepultura have Sepulnation: The Studio Albums 1998-2009 (BMG) coming out this month.It’s an 8LP/ 5CD celebration of their post-Max Cavalera career, it includes their rare Revolusongs EP, which is available for the first time digitally with covers of bands such as Devo, Public Enemy, U2 and Massive Attack. Definitely something for everyone right there, I think you’ll agree. Possibly.
War! Huurrgh! What is it good for? Aaabsolutely nuffink, eh readers? But wait! I was talking about War the group, who this year are celebrating 50 years since their formation with a series of events and a new expanded Greatest Hits 2.0 (Rhino).
War was created in the late 1960s by producer/songwriter Jerry Goldstein and British singer Eric Burdon, who’d been getting a bit bored with The Animals, and recruited various musicians from the LA club scene. Burdon left a couple of years later, but the band went on to big success with some classic floor-fillers such as Me And Baby Brother (which Losing My Edge’s bassline bears a similarity to, hem hem), Low Rider, Spill The Wine, The Cisco Kid and Galaxy and their The World Is A Ghetto album was Billboard’s biggest-seller that year.
Anywho, Greatest Hits 2.0 picks up from the original and now comes in a 2CD and 2LP. If I haven’t said ‘essential’ enough already, then I’ll say it here yet again.
Right, let’s head over to the Futurism Desk and there’s reports that Musik Music Musique 2.0: The Rise of Synth Pop (Cherry Red) is the second instalment of a 3CD set that started last year when it covered 1980.
This time around, they’ve accelerated towards 1981 and curated 51 tracks that encapsulate that particular year the best, and there’s album tracks and lesser known numbers by Soft Cell, Japan, Duran Duran, Yello, Tears For Fears, OMD and Yellow Magic Orchestra nestling alongside Chris & Cosey, Eyeless In Gaza, Virna Lindt, Gina X Performance and Thomas Leer.
There’s a couple of very obvious omissions (*cough* The Human League and Depeche Mode) and we’re greeted with culturally inappropriate Aneka’s Japanese Boy. HOWEVER, it’s brilliant value and a fantastic time capsule.
Speaking of OMD, perhaps one would like to team it with the Architecture & Morality 3X12 inch set of the three singles from the album? Now back out featuring unheard demos, studio sessions and live performances of tracks across coloured vinyl discs. There’s also a 1CD version for those futurists on a budget.
Staying in Liverpool for a moment, and the early ’80s, the tremendous first four albums by Echo & The Bunnymen are being reissued on black and/or coloured vinyl this month. These – let’s not mess about here – iconic albums are issued on Korova as thus: Crocodiles (Yellow) Heaven Up Here (Blue) Porcupine (White) and Ocean Rain (Transparent Blue) and are essential for anyone who has ever bought an old raincoat from a charity shop.
Akiko Yano’s 1982 album Ai Ga Nakucha Ne is reissued by WeWantSounds this month. It was recorded at London’s AIR studios with Mick Karn, Steve Jansen and David Sylvian and co-produced by Ryuichi Sakamoto, so is effectively a Japan album really but with someone else singing albeit in both Japanese and English.
Ai Ga Nakucha Ne was only released in Japan at the time, and so this is rather an exciting release. If you imagine a Japanese Kate Bush singing over a Japan album, then that gives you an idea.
Fancy some gentle country warblings of recent vintage? Yeah, that’d be nice wouldn’t it?
Fortunately, Nashville, Tennessee’s Caitlin Rose is celebrating the 10-year anniversary of her debut album Own Side Now (ATO), which fair hoovered up the accolades when it was first released. At least three ‘album of the week’ shout-outs and the sort of praise most artists dream of. It’s now back out on cloudy vinyl, and in some cases (ie: shops), it comes with a bonus 7 inch single. Marvellous stuff.
Back and re-pressed is the 2LP Overdose of The Holy Ghost: The Sound of Gospel Through the Disco and Boogie Eras (Z Records). Described as compiler David Hill as thus “This compilation brings together overlooked gospel gems that have their production rooted in disco and boogie, the sound of the early ’80s that followed in disco’s wake.”
Featuring bangers from Ricky Womack & Christian Essence, Elbernita ‘Twinkie’ Clark and The Young Delegation, it was first released in 2013, and original vinyl copies have been going for insane amounts in recent years. Fortunately, I’m imagining that your budget doesn’t expand to ‘insane’, and so this is a well-deserved reissue.
AND FINALLY THIS MONTH, there’s The Best of Bond… James Bond (UMC).
A 26-track 2CD/3LP affair which collects not quite all the classics together, but is updated enough to Adele’s Skyfall, Sam Smith’s crywank Writing’s On The Wall and Billie Eilish’s No Time To Die alongside all the iconic Bonders like Nancy Sinatra’s You Only Live Twice, Carly Simon’s Nobody Does It Better, Louis Armstrong’s We Have All The Time In The World and Duran Duran’s A View To A Kill.
As well as that Another Way To Die racket where Jack White and Alicia Keys basically screamed at each other.
Until next month, where *looks at crystal ball* we have Radiohead, Fela Kuti, Billy Joel, Erasure, Horace Andy, Joni Mitchell and shitloads more.