December’s curated compedium of repackaged works also features Fela Kuti, Robbie Williams, The Pastels and Paul McCartney, compilations from Heavenly, Warp and Now… and The Wombles
It can be a bit overwhelming. I get to halfway through a month and realise that I have to knock up another column, and soon feel a bit mental and stressed. Maybe I should give it up and take a holiday or something. But! It’s December and pop music never stops, and tbh much of this is November part two, but we’re here now, so buckle up and I’ll begin…
My God it was fucking grim and overwhelmingly sad to hear the news of Mimi Parker from Low’s death last month. What was warming though, was the outpouring of love from contemporaries and a huge wave of fans of the band. This year also marks the 25th anniversary of their mini-LP/EP Songs For A Dead Pilot, the vinyl format of which has been out of print the longest of any of the band’s Kranky releases. Now reissued, this incredible yet minimal release contains an early version of Will The Night, plus Land Lord and the masterpiece Hey Chicago. Low’s catalogue is vast and may be a bit overwhelming at first if you’ve never set foot in their career before, but trust me, every single note of it is well worth it. Every. Single. Note. RIP.
It’s not been available on vinyl for over 30 years, so naturally the arrival of the original Artificial Intelligence also back on the format is good news. The album was the first in a host of releases, and rounded up a bunch of Warp acts such as Aphex Twin (as The Dice Man), Autechre, Speedy J, B12 (here as Musicology) and more as electronic music that you didn’t have to throw shapes to, or as The Guardian said “changed the idea of electronic music as merely a tool for dancing”. Anyway, it’s pretty iconic, a 2LP affair and quite the album to put on when you’re gently off your tits.
Neil Young time now, and man, he’s been busy of late. After I chatted with a superfan recently though, I figured that Neil is doing this sort of thing while he’s alive, to his own specifications, rather than leave it until after his death and have other people do it. Basically, that’s why it’s been an expensive old period for any Rusties of late, and explains the 50th anniversary edition of Harvest. The album was massive back on release in 1972 and turned him bigger than he possibly expected (and then sent him slightly doolally).
These are on the third CD in the CD box and on a seven-inch single in the vinyl set. There’s a vinyl box which is 2LP+7-inch+2DVD, and the CD box is 3CD+2DVD. Both sets come with a poster and a hardcover book which includes never-before-seen photos along with extensive sleevenotes. As regards bonuses, there’s the February 23 BBC In Concert included on CD and vinyl, and three Harvest outtakes are also made available in physical form for the first time: Bad Fog Of Loneliness, Journey Through The Past and Dance Dance Dance.
Nothing says concept more than imagining what the band that kept on playing on the Titanic would sound like as they slowly submerged into icy waters and pretty much death. But that’s the sort of thing chorus-averse minimalist composer and hitmaker Gavin Bryars imagined as his first commission back in 1975 for the inaugural release, named The Sinking Of The Titanic, on Brian Eno’s Obscure Records, even though it originated back in July 1969 and was first performed at Queen Elizabeth Hall in 1972 with an instrument line-up featuring a string ensemble, percussion, low brass, brass quartet, bass clarinet, cassette tapes of speech, keyboard, 35mm slides, visible sound effects and a music box. It’s backed with the 1975 version of his better-known toe-tap Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet, which in a new version went on to be nominated for a Mercury in 1993. It’s quite a trip, in all honesty, and now you can check it out yourself as it’s back out on vinyl for a first-time reissue.
Following the initial reissue of the 1996 classic Travelling Without Moving late last year, Jamiroquai have been gradually reissuing – or in some cases issuing for the first time – their catalogue, which this month comes to a head with the release of High Times: Singles 1992-2006 making its vinyl debut. I’ll be brutally honest here and posit that Jamiroquai were ace and had an incredible run of singles from the originally-on-Acid-Jazz cracker When You Gonna Learn onwards, and were quietly huge even if they kinda unfairly get left out of official histories of that period, and Jay Kay gets dismissed as a sort-of Keith Lemon of funk-pop. Anyway, it’s coming out on 2LP black, or marbled green, vinyl, and there’s a deluxe edition in a slipcase with a slipmat. The revival starts here, fuckers.
Never knowingly seeing a box set opportunity without going ‘now THAT’S an idea’, Paul McCartney is issuing The 7” Singles Box’, with 80 career-spanning 7-inch singles which he’s personally curated. It comes in a nifty wooden box, and runs from 1970’s Another Day and heads through the decades to Women and Wives from 2020’s McCartney III. 65 of the singles have been recreated from original releases around the world, and there are 15 that have never been issued on 7-inch before such as the tremendous Temporary Secretary.
There’s a book with a foreword from Macca, and there’s only 3,000 of them, which is probably wise as the whole thing costs over £600 via his official site or affiliated joints like uDiscover. I mean, obviously it’s all very groovy, but you’d think that you’d be getting at least one of his limbs for that layout. UPDATE: Oh, it’s gone. Bloody hell. Well, I’m keeping this paragraph in here because I’m tired.
A very limited run of Cluster’s II album is coming out on vinyl this month, with 1,000 worldwide and 200 allocated for the UK. They probably could have pressed more, but Macca’s singles got in the way. Cluster (or Kluster) were first formed in 1971 by Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius, who alongside Conny Plank as then-third member basically were the absolute bomb as far as cosmic or kosmische music was concerned, and provided key texts with their first few albums with Julian Cope citing II as one of his Top 50 Krautrock albums. That good. Anyway, get your skates on and find a copy. It’s ruddy fabulous.
Bryan Ferry’s eighth solo album, 1993’s Taxi, is coming out on yellow vinyl this month. It was a bit of a song and dance to record despite Ferry saying he was in a tremendous mood and it being 90% cover versions such as All Tomorrow’s Parties, I Put A Spell On You and Will You Love Me Tomorrow. It’s very good tbh, and the mood is very, um, ‘moody’ (ie. brilliant).
Those Arthur Russell reissues keep on coming. The superb Love Is Overtaking Me was a compilation of previously unheard stuff that came out in 2008 and featured 21 demos and home recordings of unreleased pop, folk and country songs from Arthur’s vast catalogue. Compiled from over eight hours of material, it reaches back further to Russell’s first compositions from the early ’70s and spans forward to his very last recordings, made at home in 1991. It’s absolutely sensational. Corn was originally released in 2015, and featured nine tracks Russell recorded in 1982 and 1983. In collaboration with Russell’s partner Tom Lee, Audika’s Steve Knutson compiled Corn from Arthur’s original, completed 1/4” tape masters. Russell himself compiled this material on three separate test pressings – labelled El Dinosaur, Indian Ocean, and Untitled, respectively in 1985.
The Now Desk have news of great import, and that is the announcement of the Now Yearbook ’80-’84: The Final Chapter. Oh honey, this one is SPECIAL. It’s an 81-track 4CD or 43-track golden vinyl 3LP, and it effectively mops up what the 1980-1984 volumes didn’t have space for, and we’re looking at Love Is A Stranger! Sat In Your Lap! O Superman! Where The Heart Is Our Lips Are Sealed! Living On The Ceiling! Waiting For A Train! Intuition! Absolute! 18 Carat Love Affair! Forget Me Nots! A Solid Bond In Your Heart! Water On Glass! Louise! What Difference Does It Make?!
By jingo, it is absolutely fantastic and the sort of thing I want to hear over Christmas when I’m in that mid-Baileys/ navigating the wrong ‘uns in a tub of Roses mode, and resolutely unmoveable from the sofa. Also, that now makes it approximately a whopping 807 tracks from this era that the Yearbooks have covered. I mean, bloody NORA.
From Now to Bogshed – I’m nothing if not versatile, babe – and the news of the release of a 5CD box set of Bogshed’s back catalogue as well as offloading the catalogue onto streaming. Bog Set includes their debut EP, two albums, John Peel Sessions and a live and rarities collection (the latter will only available with the physical product, so you’ll have to fork out for that in order to secure your copy of the number The Amazing Roy North Penis Band).
First formed in 1983, Bogshed became the toast of the regional arts centre circuit and appeared on the NME C86 tape too. Obviously, the handicap of being called Bogshed didn’t help matters for them showbiz-wise, and so they came to an end in 1987. Sadly, reunions are unlikely now as half of them are no longer with us, but Bog Set should help rectify that once and for all, and help keep the flame alive for Bogshed.
Domino imprint Geographic, as run by The Pastels’ Stephen McRobbie and Katrina Mitchell, have announced the reissues of three titles from their catalogue: Maher Shalal Hash Baz’s Blues du Jour (2003), The Pastels’ The Last Great Wilderness (2003) – the score to director David Mackenzie’s film of the same name which also features a track with Jarvis Cocker – and Lightships (featuring ex-Teenage Fanclubber Gerry ‘Gerard’ Love), and their astounding debut, Electric Cables (2012) which scooped five-star reviews galore. All will be released alongside an exclusive Geographic mix put together by McRobbie and Mitchell on 2 December. So that’s pretty groovy, yeah?
A handful of releases fell off the round-up last month due to there being SO much stuff to cover that I ended up going a bit doolally. Coinciding with what would have been his 80th birthday (18 November btw), there’s Jimi Hendrix Experience‘s Los Angeles Forum: April 26, 1969. It’s a 2LP, 1CD affair that captured the trio at their blistering best in front of a sold-out crowd. For a mere $6.50, they headlined over Chicago Transit Authority (aka Chicago) and the fabulously named Cat Mother & The All Night Newsboys. This set has all the Experience experience you could wish for really, including a 17-minute medley of Voodoo Child (Return) and Cream’s Sunshine Of Your Love. That’s your dad sorted.
Another one which was remiss of me to um, miss, was Guns N’ Roses’ Use Your Illusion 30th anniversary beanfeast, which has been expanded to a 12LP/Blu-ray or 7CD/Blu-ray box with an additional 63 unreleased bits and bobs. There are bonuses such as live concerts from the period, plus both albums have been fully remastered for the first time ever from the original stereo analogue masters. The record features a new version of November Rain recorded with a 50-piece orchestra. That’s quite a lot of Use Your Illusion. It’s all terrific, obviously.
In what I’m calling a Love box, or to be precise it’s actually entitled Expressions Tell Everything. The Forever Changes hitmakers are issuing their original run of singles from 1966 to 1969 as a deluxe 8×7-inch vinyl box set including two exclusive 7-inch singles: ¡Que Vida! / Hey Joe – originally only ever issued as a promo 45 – and the newly created Always See Your Face / August – taken from Love’s 1969 album LP Four Sail.
This was originally planned as a single, but was scrapped when the band left the Elektra label shortly before the album was released. The caboodle is accompanied by a 62-page booklet featuring track-by-track annotation by original guitarist Johnny Echols and liner notes from Andrew Sandoval. They’ve also unearthed never-before-seen photographs of the band plus rare posters, singles, original master tapes and more. Every set also comes with a set of two promotional postcards.
Razorlight have a Greatest Hits out. Seriously! It’s called Razorwhat? The Best Of and tbh it might have benefited from coming out in 2010 but we are where we are. It’s a slim 13-track 1LP/ 1CD/ 1MC thing, which doesn’t overwhelm with shitloads of bonuses, with two new tracks You Are Entering The Human Heart and Violence Forever? And it’s in honour of the original line-up being back together, and Andy Burrows and Johnny Borrell being back together. All the hits that have been picking up PRS from Radio X over the last decade and a half are here, such as America, In The Morning, Golden Touch and Somewhere Else.
Among the many questions I have asked in my life, such as ‘how do I now get Razorlight out of my search history’, one of the regular ones has been ‘Are they ever going to reissue the first Tiger album We Are Puppets?’ Well, that eternal misery is at an end, motherfuckers, because basically TIGER’S WE ARE PUPPETS IS COMING BACK OUT AND THIS TIME IT’S ON VINYL. It was originally released in November 1996 and featured the stellar toe-taps On The Rose, Race and My Puppet Pal among others. Tiger were ace. They looked a bit like temporary fruit-picking staff who knew their Stereolab and who might have made the effort to wash their hair a bit more often, but I loved ‘em. Anyway, TIGER’S WE ARE PUPPETS IS COMING BACK OUT AND THIS TIME IT’S ON VINYL. YAROO!
Heavenly Remixes 5 & 6 are the next two volumes in, erm, Heavenly’s stratospherically amazing round-up of reswizzles of their catalogue. Number 5 has the likes of Confidence Man’s Holiday (Bruise remix), The Orielles’ Bobbi’s Second World (Confidence Man remix), Mildlife’s Automatic (Psychemagik dub mix) and David Holmes (ft Raven Violet)’s Hope Is The Last Thing To Die (Daniel Avery remix), whereas Volume 6 has the legendary Saint Etienne’s Like A Motorway (Chemical Brothers Chekhov Warp Vocal remix), Working Men’s Club’s Ploys (Erol Alkan rework), Monkey Mafia’s Blow The Whole Joint Up (Let’s Slash The Beats mix) and Flowered Up’s Weatherall’s Weekender (Audrey Is A Little Bit Partial mix). Pretty good huh? They’re available as individual 2LP volumes or all on a 2CD.
There’s a 67-track 3CD Gilbert O’Sullivan compilation entitled The Best Of, which he’s compiled himself and contains crackers such as Alone Again (Naturally), What’s In A Kiss, Clair, Matrimony and the MONSTER Get Down, ie. the soundtrack to one of television’s most iconic moments of all time – chiefly the 1973 Christmas Day Top Of The Pops where Pans People tell some dogs off. I swear blind there was once a re-edit bootleg of Get Down that lasted about 10 minutes and was AMAZING, but that was back in yore when I was a-romping around clubs off my tits so I could’ve quite easily imagined it. Anyway, it’s brilliant. All of it.
Do you have any groups that you accidentally call Groove Amanda? I don’t know about you, I’ve been known to accidentally refer to Groove Armada as Groove Amanda. I’ve been doing it 25 years now. Apologies to Groove Amanda, sorry Armada. So, to make up for that, I’ll shed light on their extremely groovin’ celebratory collection called GA25 which is a greatest hits deal on 24-track 2CD and 13-track 2LP, with bangers such as Superstylin’, Song 4 Mutya, At The River and I See You Baby. Hurrah the Armada!
Daniel Vangarde is effectively Thomas Bangalter of Daft Punk fame’s dad. Back in the day (like 50-odd years ago, he began life as a highly prolific producer and songwriter whose credits included co-writing and producing the likes of Ottawan’s D.I.S.C.O., Cuba by The Gibson Brothers and Aie A Mwana by Black Blood (which Bananarama covered). On The Vaults Of Zagora Records Mastermind (1971-1984) he’s compiled some of his iconic productions by turns such as The Great Disco Bouzouki Band, Who’s Who, The Electronic System, Soul Iberica Band and The Lovelets alongside better-known acts such as Amii Stewart, Gibson Brother and that Black Blood knees-up. Anyway, it’s a 2LP joint and it’s bloody amazing.
Currently on tour celebrating 25 years of his debut album, Robbie Williams is set to reissue that particular album, Life Thru A Lens, this month as a 4CD affair (and there’s also a boxed 7-inches edition – mate, EVERYONE is releasing 7-inch boxes these days). It a comprehensive set that brings together the original album with bonus tracks and B-sides from the five singles lifted from it, along with the tracks associated with Robbie’s slightly iffy version of George Michael’s Freedom. The third disc contains previously unreleased demo recordings, alongside rehearsal recordings and rare remixes. The fourth disc contains a first release on audio format for the complete concert recorded at the Forum in north London on 3 June 1998, released that November as Live In Your Living Room on VHS tape and VCD but never reissued. It stands up surprisingly well after a – gulp – quarter of a century.
New from the marvellous Soundway Records is Padang Moonrise, which explores the story of modern Indonesian music. The compilation showcases regional popular music, Islamic Gambus, Javanese and Balinese Gamelan and Kroncong, with jazz, afro-latin music & instrumentation, and vocal harmonies influenced by banned American doo-wop and rock and roll, which has been pretty much its own world. Padang Moonrise collects a selection of these recordings from 1955 through 1969 with music from Orkes Teruna Ria, Yanti Bersaudara, Orkes Suita Rama, Band Nada Kentjana, Orkes Lokananta, Orkes Teruna Ria, Zaenal Combo, Orkes Kelana Ria, Orkes Gumarang, Mus D.S., Orkes Tropicana, Orkes Lokananta, Orkes Irama, Ivo Nilakreshna, and Orkes Sendja Meraju. Quite Orkes heavy then.
Who is Lora Logic, I can hear you cry, well, the press release puts it slightly better than I can… ‘A founder member of seminal UK punk band X-Ray Spex when she was just 15 years old, Susan Murphy, aka Lora Logic, was a songwriter, saxophonist and singer and went on to form Essential Logic and create some of the most liberating and exciting music of the early post-punk era. Briefly, also a member of Red Crayola, Lora’s saxophone lent a unique quality to the bands she was in and she also played on recordings by The Raincoats, The Stranglers, Kollaa Kestää, Dennis Bovell, Swell Maps, and later, Boy George.
She turned her back on the music industry in 1982 after the recording of her last studio album, sad and disillusioned and fighting drug addiction, which saw her turn to a Hare Krishna lifestyle, alongside Poly Styrene, embracing a fresh new chapter.’ So anyway, Logically Yours is a 50-track whopper, with Essential Logic’s Beat Rhythm News (Waddle Ya Play?), Lora’s own solo affair Pedigree Charm and two further compilations Aerosol Burns & Other Misdemeanours, No More Fiction and her first album in 40-odd years, Land Of Kali. She may have been scant on the release front over the decades, but Logically Yours shows that Lora has been a pivotal figure throughout.
It’s raw, it’s funky, it’s far out. Yep, The Jimmy Castor Bunch: Definitive Collection is the album to get any knees-up started properly. A 45-track 3CD, exploring the bangeriffic output of Jimmy Castor who lit up dancefloors with a host of jams such as It’s Just Begun (which has been sampled on everything), The Bertha Butt Boogie (which has been sampled on everything) and Troglodyte (Cave Man) with it’s legendary intro “What we’re going to do right here is go back – way back, back into time” which has been sampled on literally everything. Shout out to other notable fruggers such as Say Leroy (The Creature From The Black Lagoon Is Your Father), Luther The Anthropoid (Ape Man), You Better Be Good (Or the Devil Gon’ Getcha) and Southern Fried Frijoles. If this album doesn’t move you, it’s possible that you’re actually dead.
Celebrating 50 years of Catch Bull At Four, Yusuf/ Cat Stevens is issuing his sixth album as a remastered vinyl on black or orange wax and as a CD. While not chock full of obvious Cat/ Yusuf bangers, but it still shifted a million or so copies such was the level of success and fame at the time. It’s a decent array of masterpieces that follows the recent reissues of the other albums in his catalogue so far.
Another 50th anniversary comes with reissue of Fela Kuti’s Afrodisiac. The fifth in the series of Fela reissues, it was originally reissued in 2014 as part of the Eno-compiled box set, and he reckoned that Afrodisiac was a massive influence on Talking Heads’ Remain In Light. This new reissue of the record will be pressed on limited edition green, red and black coloured vinyl.
Shall we wrap this up with The Wombles? Fuck yeah. The Wombles are ace. And you know what? They’re releasing a 4CD box of The Complete Studio Albums, with Wombling Songs, Remember You’re A Womble, Keep On Wombling and Superwombling. These albums were bunged out to capitalise on WOMBLE MANIA within the space of 18 months in 1974/75. Behind the Mike Batt-created big-nosed recyclers, were a crack band of amazing session musicians such as Chris Spedding, Les Hurdle, Clem Cattini, Ray Cooper and Rex Morris. Oh yeah. Those cats, or Wombles, could PLAY.
That’s enough for now, I think. A nice run through of December releases as well as some of the stuff that slid down the back of the release sofa in November. I’m good to you, I really bloody am. Next month? Well next month I was planning on some time off, but as soon as the cosmos heard that, out came news of some incredible bits and bobs from New Order, a new Bob Stanley & Pete Wiggs compilation, Delays, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Cymande and Tori Amos and no doubt loads more still to be announced as yet.
Right, I’m off. You know where I am if you wanna slip any tips in my g-string (I gotta make a living).