Our September digest of the best reissues also features Egyptian instrumental modal pop from the ’70s, Super Furry Animals’ 20th anniversary release of Rings Around The World and Sheena Easton in her pomp
It’s Autumn. The release schedules have started to tilt towards the Christmas market, and this September selection shows it kicking off quite spectacularly as regards some of the big hitters are concerned, and so there’s a lot to digest from across the genres. Okay. Ready? Let’s do it…
The big reissue news this month are the celebrations surrounding Primal Scream’s – let’s just say it, yeah? – iconic Screamadelica album and its 30th anniversary. An album that defined its era, turned Primal Scream from a shambling unselling bunch of miscreants into popstars, as well as showcasing the talents of Andrew Weatherall. It transcended its influences and pushed Bobby and chums into Classic Album status. Understandably, they’re making a song and dance about this event with a host of releases.
First up this month, there’s a 2XLP picture disc of the original album, which is quite pretty thanks to Paul Cannell’s amazing artwork and could make a nice themed clock if you’ve already an owner of the previous vinyl repressings. However, the more imaginative releases come in the form of the Screamadelica 12” Singles (Sony), which is a 10LP box set, with faithful reproductions of each of the 12s that were issued during the era, from Loaded to the Dixie Narco EP, along with reswizzles from Graham Massey, The Orb and Terry Farley all on 180g vinyl with some period appropriate art prints as well as an exclusive tenth disc which contains a previously unreleased Weatherall mix of Shine Like Stars. Helpfully, it all comes with download codes too.
Following in October, is a 2LP, 1CD and exclusive cassette called Demodelica (Sony), which, well I don’t think that needs too much explaining, but contains previously unreleased demos and work-in-progress mixes of tracks from Screamadelica, again housed in a sexy Cannell-artworked sleeve and with an essay from Jon Savage. There are bundles and the like available on the band’s official site, just in case you fancy wolfing down the lot and you’re not interested in eating or paying rent for the next couple of months, or if you’re an ageing indie raver stuck for something to put on your Christmas list. Brilliant stuff.
Super Furry Animals, a band that were regularly amazing, excelled even their own very high standards of quality already achieved on Radiator and Mwng, with Rings Around The World in 2001. For the first album for their then-new label Epic, they literally went for it by recording it in both Wales and New York, creating the first ever ‘visual album’ on DVD, and threw John Cale on piano and Paul McCartney chewing some celery in as an added attraction.
For its 20th anniversary, they’ve repressed it on vinyl (natch) and a 3CD edition that adds period B-sides and an additional previously unreleased 33 tracks. It’s a work of art, quite honestly, and in a just universe would’ve sold millions. Correct that error now! Show that there’s hope for humanity after all! It’s a truly wonderful affair.
Genesis, now, and aside from a brief reuniting with previous members for the TV documentary Together and Apart, it’s been 14 years since anyone’s heard owt from the trio themselves. Until now. Having had to put their The Last Domino? Tour on ice due to COVID, they aim to finally get on with it this Autumn, and a compilation of the same name is out this month to celebrate.
There’s a lot to love about the band, be it the early quaint English proggery where Peter Gabriel wore a lawnmower on his head, or the turn of the eighties emergence as the Phil Collins-led stadium and hits powerhouse. This double album collects a digestible collection of each element from their catalogue, with highlights such as Turn It On Again, I Know What I Like, Abacab and Carpet Crawlers.
Two of the greatest British groups to emerge during the ’70s receive attention this month. A singles act to rank among the finest of them, Hot Chocolate, see their A’s & B’s compiled on The RAK Singles (7TS/ Cherry Red), a 4CD set with 36 singles from Love Is Life to Heartache No.9.
Among them are the key numbers such as You Sexy Thing and their sole No 1 So You Win Again, as well as absolute bangers like Heaven Is In the Back Seat of My Cadillac, Every 1’s A Winner, Emma and the sci-fi sexual futurism of Put Your Love In Me. It’s all sex, funk and drama and, well, essential.
Liverpool’s The Real Thing remain Britain’s most successful black group of all time(!), emerging in 1976 with the chart-topper You To Me Are Everything and had a string of hits such as Can’t Get By Without You and the superb laser boogie of Can You Feel The Force.
The Anthology (1972-1997) (Cherry Pop) is a 7CD box which houses all their albums, including the amazing career-ending Liverpool 8, which sank due to people expecting more pop triumphs weren’t ready for a scouse What’s Going On at the time, so it remained nailed to the shelves. It has since been rediscovered as a masterpiece. If you’re still a bit on the fence, I thoroughly recommend you watch their documentary Everything, and you’ll understand their place in Liverpool’s music history.
Issued last month after 25 years of unreleasedness, was the incredible Lewis Taylor debut album (Be With). Originally released in 1996 on Island Records back when the label was all Tricky bleakness, PJ Harvey bluesin’ spook-pop and starting to look a bit peaky after holding its breath and tapping its watch for a My Bloody Valentine album.
Lewis Taylor was a smoky, moodlin’ blend of old-school soul and prog feels, and lead track Lucky sounded like Marvin Gaye and John Martyn having a nice session. Out of print for far too long, it’s back on double vinyl and well worth all of your money.
Another well-loved but under-selling album from the mid-’90s that’s finally back out this month is Heartworm by Dublin’s Whipping Boy. Originally released to critical acclaim in 1995, Heartworm has since gone on to be considered a lost classic, and voted fourth best Irish album of all time by The Irish Times and the seventh by Hot Press, as well as being declared amazing by Fontaines DC.
It’s no surprise it has such fans, what with the criminally un-charting successes of singles Twinkle, We Don’t Need Anybody Else and the majestic When We Were Young all coming within spitting distance of the Top 40, even if the album bypassed the UK charts altogether. Now lovingly reissued by the ever-excellent Needle Mythology, with a second record / CD of B-sides, two previously unreleased demos and live tracks, along with sleeve notes by Colm O’Callaghan, it’s no shock that it quickly sold out on pre-orders alone suggesting that 26 years of word of mouthery has paid off on this proper gem of an album.
Sticking with the late ’90s for a paragraph or two – and why not? It was fun then – we have a handful of vinyl reissues, firstly with Spiritualized and the third stage of their reissue programme, namely the sublime Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space (Fat Possum), their grandest statement yet thanks to contributions from Dr John, The London Community Gospel Choir and BJ Cole. It was the band’s breakthrough and found them duking it out alongside OK Computer in the Best of 1997 lists. It now comes with updated artwork from Mark Farrow and is bloody fantastic.
The Longpigs reissue their second album, 1999’s Mobile Home (Demon) on clear vinyl, which was originally released on U2’s Mother label and saw them attempt to shrug off that pesky Britpop tag that dogged them after the success of their marvellous debut The Sun is Often Out. Band friction and the demise of Mother in 2000 didn’t help matters, and before you knew it, they were no longer a happener too.
Another bunch of Britpop footsoldiers that looked set to be the next Oasis, but didn’t quite happen were Ultrasound. Originally signed to Nude, who’d had their hands full with Suede and so knew all about drama, the band’s glam-meets-prog live performances – a sort of Captain Beefheart-meets-Marc Bolan glittery emotional bombast gave them a fearsome live rep, and a couple of ‘lower 30s’ chart hits in Stay Young and Floodlit World.
They pretty much split up the moment they released their debut album, Everything Picture, in 1999. Now reissued as a 4LP boxset on One Little Independent Records, with the original double album, alongside an extra two records featuring a variety of B-sides and singles, and a CD of live and session tracks.
If that’s all a bit too guitar-based, then there’s the 25th anniversary of Buena Vista Social Club (World Circuit). Back in March 1996, Cuban bandleader Juan de Marcos González, musician Ry Cooder and British producer and label owner Nick Gold assembled an impromptu group of veteran Cuban musicians at Centro Havana’s historic 1950s EGREM/Areito studios, and within the space of seven days, recorded this album and a host of additional previously-unreleased until now tracks.
The results enhanced the careers of Ibrahim Ferrer, Eliades Ochoa, Compay Segundo, Rubén González and Omara Portuondo, as well as inspiring a Wim Wenders film and bringing traditional Cuban music to a wider audience as well as wooing a whole host of tourists to Cuba. This highly celebrated album has been remastered and now available in a 2LP/2CD Deluxe Book Pack as well as individual 2CD Casebook and 2LP versions.
One of the greatest albums of 1984, Everything But The Girl’s debut Eden (Buzzin’ Fly/ Chrysalis) follows on from the duo’s gradual vinyl reissuing program, where they’ve half-speed remastered other classics, such as Walking Wounded and Amplified Heart.
Produced by Robin Millar – who was also helming Sade’s debut downstairs at the same studio in Willesden, North London – it was a breath of fresh, gently jazzy and decidedly non-rock air back then, and still sounds timeless almost (gulp) 40 years on.
One of the most important Arabic composers of the 20th Century, Baligh Hamdi (بليغ حمدى) wrote many of the big Egyptian hits of the ’60s and early ’70s, and western audiences might recognise his Khosara Khosara, which was sampled by Timbaland for Jay-Z’s Big Pimpin’.
Hamdi had a vision of creating a modernised, Arabic hybrid music with his group the Diamond Orchestra, establishing a meeting of mid-east and eastern psychedelic exotica. Modal Instrumental Pop Of 1970s Egypt (Sublime Frequencies) collects 24 of his most far out, future-facing cuts together, and is out on CD this month, with a 2LP set version available in November.
Sheena Easton went from being one of reality TV’s first breakout stars, when in 1979 she appeared on BBC’s The Big Time, an Esther Rantzen-presented show which shoved talented ordinary members of the public into the limelight of their desired careers. After sniffily being told by Lulu’s manager that she wouldn’t make it at the time, when the show aired, she found herself with two singles – 9 To 5 and Modern Girl – in the Top 10, and en route to being quite a big deal in America making Bond themes, duetting with Kenny Rogers and becoming a Prince-approved lungsmith with the sick filth of Sugar Walls.
The Definitive Singles 80-87 (Cherry Pop) is a 3CD set that features her EMI releases from both sides of the ocean, and includes a bundle of new-to-CD exclusives as well as ‘lost’ singles, edits and remixes. Sheena has even written some notes for it, along the lines of ‘Did Lulu sing with Prince? No, she did not. Ha! Eat THAT Lulu’s manager!’ Possibly.
Folk news now, and the Crimson Gold series that has brought out a steady stream of fantastic budget collections focusing on everyone from The Rubettes, The Dooleys, Boney M, Chas & Dave and T Rex this month bring out Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Pentangle – Gold (Crimson). Across 45 tracks, it starts in the mid-’60s with solo recordings by Bert Jansch and John Renbourn and concludes with their coming together and the sound of Pentangle. If you always fancied dabbling in these waters before, thanks mainly to Graham Coxon or Johnny Marr raving about them, but somewhat daunted by the prices their early works now command – Jansch’s Angie is worth this price on its own – this is a great entrée.
Kent Records offers a glimpse into lesser-known slices of Southern soul with Can I Be A Witness: Stax Southern Groove. Over the 20 tracks there’s 11 previously unreleased tracks from The Soul Children, Little Milton, The Emotions, The Sweet Inspirations, The Nightingales and Frederick Knight, as well as rare cuts by Eddie Floyd, RB Hudmon, The Rance Allen Group and Eric Mercury from the Stax archive.
What looks set to be an ongoing thing – the dude has released quite a few albums, it must be said – Robbie Williams’ first two long players, 1997’s Life Thru A Lens and 1998’s I’ve Been Expecting You (UMC) are coming out on coloured vinyl and gatefold sleeve for the very first time this month.
Life Thru A Lens, recorded in the flush of post-Take Thatness, didn’t quite set fire to the charts when first released, charting at an unthinkable No 11, but six months later, thanks to release of singles Let Me Entertain You and something called Angels among its hits, it eventually did rather well, shifting two million copies and spending two years on the album chart. While I’ve Been Expecting You was a slightly bigger deal, shifting 2.5 million copies and featured Millennium, She’s The One, Strong and what is probably one of his greatest singles, the Neils (Hannon and Tennant)-assisted No Regrets.
Shortly before they stood on the scaffolding of SHOCK and set about dismantling the system by wearing binbags and calling everyone over the age of 25 a dirty rotter, The Sex Pistols were prepping their onslaught and honing their craft with a series of demo recordings. While these demos have been knocking about on unofficial cash-in releases in the past, The Sex Pistols 76-77 (UMC) lovingly collects them all together in a 4CD box for the first time, with the lure of eight previously unreleased tracks, among the 80 collected here of which 30 make their digital debut. It’s a definitive evolutionary process, and one for the ‘punk’s not dead’ set to get pissed and destroy to, just like they used to do in days of yore.
If you’re after an equally revolutionary music from around that era, without the nihilistic admin of mopping phlegm off a cardigan or setting fire to a mayor, may I recommend NOW Boogie Nights – Disco Classics (EMI/ Sony) which features 87 not-pissing-about bangers from the likes of Donna Summer, Chic, Sylvester, Odyssey, Earth Wind & Fire and more (more, more). You cannot go wrong with a collection that has The Rah Band’s The Crunch, Amanda Lear’s Follow Me, Voyage’s Souvenirs, Sheila & B Devotion’s Spacer and the full-length of ABBA’s Voulez Vous among its delights now, can you?
Phew. Right. I think that’s quite enough this month, don’t you? See you back here in a few weeks after I’ve had a lie down.