Music Features, Spotlights

Reissues Roundup: Madonna, Girls Aloud, Air



What do Butthole Surfers, Nico, Electribe 101, AC/DC, I Monster and Bananarama all have in common? They’re all in this month’s fancy-new-things-from-old-things crate dive, that’s what

musicOMH's Reissues Roundup, March 2024

musicOMH’s Reissues Roundup, March 2024

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Girls Aloud - What Will The Neighbours Say? blue vinyl

Girls Aloud – What Will The Neighbours Say? blue vinyl

Girls Aloud’s What Will The Neighbours Say was a cultural reset. The follow-up to their debut Sound Of The Underground was a far more focused and inventive affair, thanks primarily to Brian Higgins and Xenomania taking over the lion’s share of writing and production making Girls Aloud the conduit for an avalanche of ideas and a superb pop vision. Also, credit where credit is due to Kimberley’s clipboard too.

Containing the hits The Show, Love Machine, I’ll Stand By You and Wake Me Up – those individual toe-taps alone pack enough magic and invention in their durations than most other acts manage in a lifetime – it was the peak of what was possible in pop. Ahead of its 20th anniversary, What Will The Neighbours Say is debuting on vinyl (yaroo!) and also expanded into a 3CD set, with the album, remixes and a host of B-sides, demos and off-cuts such as their covers of Hanging On The Telephone, I’m Every Woman and the long-lost Wicked Game.

What Will The Neighbours Say is full of possibly the greatest music you’ll ever hear and almost a callback to the sort-of mid-00ze Xenomania genius that soon had everyone beating on their door for a sprinkle. But the key conduits were the Aloud and rightly so – there will never be another Girls Aloud, and like Bowie, Prince, The Human League and Pet Shop Boys, we should just feel grateful that we got to experience them in our lifetimes. WHAT A FUCKING GROUP.

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Nico - The Marble Index

Nico – The Marble Index

They’ll never be another Nico either. In a way, her story is not dissimilar to that of Girls Aloud’s. If you’re in the market for such crackpot analogies such as PopStars effectively being The Velvet Underground or something, and only once they’d escaped their shadows, were able to become their own, pure thing.

Nico, famous for singing ‘what a clonn’ on Femme Fatale for their debut called & Nico, had already released her solo debut Chelsea Girl performing songs written for her, but it was after spending some time with Jim Morrison smoking peyote in the desert and reading poets, where the Door-man suggested she wrote her own stuff based on her dreams. So armed with this new superpower, bought a harmonium and started making demos.

After a four-day recording session with old mucker John Cale acting as producer, wherein everybody involved seemed to be doing heroin, The Marble Index was born, and due to it being a bit odd and austere and not-of-1968, sold next-to-nothing. After several years of hearing everyone bang on about how amazing The Marble Index is, but faced with unreasonable demands, it, along now with Desertshore, are coming back out for a whole new generation to go oooh/WTF over.

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Electribe 101 - Electribal Memories

Electribe 101 – Electribal Memories

Perhaps the mid-point between Girls Aloud and Nico – kinda – were Billie Ray Martin and Electribe 101. Having issued the amazing lost album Electribal Soul a couple of years ago, Billie has finally done the long-awaited thing and done a bell-and-whistles remaster of the 1990 classic debut Electribal Memories. Hurrah!

To try and encapsulate how incredible this album is, it’s considered a masterpiece by basically anyone who has ever heard it. Hell, let’s deploy an iconic here. Electribal Memories was a future-facing soulful moodsome electronic wonder that created its own world with tunes such as Talking With Myself, Inside Out, You’re Walking, Tell Me When The Fever Ended. Tracks like Diamond Dove feel like a kaleidoscopic utopia, a gliding vessel of magnificence, or the late-evening drive of Heading For The Night. It seemed of its time and yet timeless.

Seriously, hearing it some 34 (bloody hell) years on, it’s still as fresh as a daisy. Now it’s been deluxed the fuck out into a new 4CD edition with remixes, extended versions, radio edits and original band demos, and it’s also being reissued as a half-speed mastered vinyl LP. Honestly, if you’ve never heard it before then I envy you. An actual work of actual art.

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Bananarama - Glorious

Bananarama – Glorious

Celebrating four decades of being the greatest group on Earth, Bananarama are issuing Glorious: The Ultimate Collection this month. The hardest-drinking and most fun of all their generation of pop turns, Keren and Sara have scanned their entire career to pick ten tracks per decade(ish) to represent everything, rather than go top-heavy with all the big hits from the first phase. And why not?

Their seminal Greatest Hits Collection is still widely available if you don’t want to venture past 1990, and its only fair that having been a duo for three quarters of that time, they want to put on a full buffet. It’s available as a 2CD and gold or red 3LP job, and there’s a D2C 3CD with bonus remixes. It’s a complete riot, and do yourself a favour and bow down to their majesty.

The Cure - Paris

The Cure – Paris

Let’s do a Fancy That! link here and bring in The Cure. There’s a clip online of them AND Bananarama performing Close To Me, or at least miming to it on some TV show, together. No one looks particularly sober. In fact, The Cure ended up cowering in fear whenever they encountered the ‘rams. AND SO THEY SHOULD.

Anyway, The Cure’s Paris, is back out on vinyl for the first time in over 30 years and now comes with two bonus tracks omitted from the original release – Shake Dog Shake and Hot Hot Hot!!!. The album was recorded from two shows on their Wish tour they played in… well, the clue is in the title. It’s on a comforting double black vinyl and 1CD and Bob has remastered it at Abbey Road with The Hardest Working Man in Remastering, Miles Showell.

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Air - Moon Safari

Air – Moon Safari

Ah, Moon Safari by Air. Or Air FRENCH BAND as it was back then. What an album. It felt like I’d heard it almost daily for a good six months before it was first released in the UK, when I was at Vox and NME would have on almost contant rotation. Even now, 26 years on, the soft-focus retro-futuristic-retroness of it still feels like a much needed escape, much as it was back then when the bonhomie of the ’90s were starting to slide out of view, and everything in the swinging capital had begun to turn into a mucky brown.

The unfurling comfort of a blanket of stars and wonder felt like an instant classic then and still sounds pretty special a quarter of a century(ish) on. As part of their 25 year(ish) celebrations, not only are Air back. Back. BACK, they’ve unearthed a variety of bonus tracks for a 2CD edition for a spatial Dolby Atmos audio version of the original album along with rare or previously unreleased tracks as well as Mike Mills’ 1998 documentary film Eating, Sleeping, Waiting & Playing filmed during the band’s first ever worldwide tour and more. Magnifique!

Stereolab - Switched On

Stereolab – Switched On

Adventure also awaits you with Stereolab, who have bunged all their Switched Ons together to create Switched On Volumes 1-5. The 8CD set contains the original Switched On compilation LP released in 1992, 1995’s Refried Ectoplasm [Switched On Volume 2], 1998’s Aluminum Tunes [Switched On Volume 3], 2021’s Electrically Possessed [Switched On Volume 4], and 2022’s Pulse Of The Early Brain [Switched On Volume 5].

That’s 94 tracks that were non-albumers or deep cuts from over 30 years. Sure, passing observers with already know French Disko and Lo Boob Oscillator, but this reasonably-priced odyssey is well worth delving into light poverty for. There will also be Little Pieces Of Stereolab (A Switched On Sampler) out at the same time, with three tracks apiece from each of the five Switched Ons.

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Wham! - Fantastic

Wham! – Fantastic

Fancy a bit of directional !’s and amazingness? Well you’re in luck as Wham! are reissuing their two studio albums, 1983’s Fantastic and 1984’s Make It Big on vinyl for the first time in years, with Fantastic on either black or red and Make It Big on black or white. Hard to believe how slim The Wham Group’s catalogue actually was – literally approximately 30 songs – but no home should be without them.

Friends of the show Superdeluxeedition did have the two albums as exclusive blu-ray audio releases which contained bonus tracks such as remixes, single versions and, in the case of Make It Big, mop up all the rest of the catalogue with I’m Your Man and The Edge Of Heaven singles on too. Quite why the Wham!s have decided to not put them CDs too is a baffler, as there are plenty of Whammers who are still very old school, but they’ll be on streaming and all that. Whoop whoop!

Butthole Surfers - Rembrandt Pussyhorse

Butthole Surfers – Rembrandt Pussyhorse

Butthole Surfers launch their reissue campaign with three titles arriving on vinyl this month, with Psychic… Powerless… Another Man’s Sac, Rembrandt Pussyhorse, and PCPPEP, which chart their evolution from a brain-frying self-destructive freak out assault to a, um, even bigger brain-frying self-destructive freak out assault of mangled tapes. Perhaps not as well known as the Locust Abortion Technician and Hairway To Steven masterpieces, these are the entrance to the Texans’ psychedelic k-hole of noise and confusion. Trust me, add all three to your basket this instant.

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AC/DC - Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

AC/DC – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

Celebrating 50 years of being AC/DC this year are *checks notes* AC/DC, and they’re going to town on vinyl reissues, with nine stone cold classics as gold coloured vinyl. Each of these limited editions will come with an album-specific 12”x12” print featuring new AC/DC 50 artwork, suitable for framing.

The titles, with brief review in brackets, are: Back In Black (incredible), Highway To Hell (amazing), The Razors Edge (pretty good), Powerage (ace), For Those About To Rock (We Salute You) (amazing), High Voltage (not shit), Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (amazing), Who Made Who (pretty special) & Live (live). It’s all to coincide with the band’s tour of stadiums this summer. Owning these will make you infinitely more fuckable.

Moving Away From The Pulsebeat

Moving Away From The Pulsebeat

Moving Away From The Pulsebeat is a 5CD set containing all the key texts from 1977 to 1981. From The Human League’s The Path Of Least Resistance, PiL’s Poptones and The Cure’s A Forest, Bunnymen, Teardrop Explodes, Fall and Banshees through to lesser known names such as Artery, Cravats, Avant Gardeners and Disco Zombies, it charts a path through an era where punk gave way to a DIY aesthetic, this set allows those who’ve still got a box of well-fingered sevens in their loft to relive their youth and acts as an education to anyone encountering all this gala of manifestos and grand plans for the first time.

Chaka Khan - Chaka

Chaka Khan – Chaka

Rather conveniently, seeing as she’s the curator of this year’s Meltdown at London’s Southbank Centre, Chaka Khan’s catalogue is getting some long overdue love, starting this month with the release of her 1978 debut Chaka on remastered vinyl and CD.

It includes the deathless masterpiece I’m Every Woman and was produced by the legendary Arif Mardin and features top sessioneers such as David Sanborn, David Lasley and the Brecker brothers as well as a duet with George Benson. Look out for Naughty (1980) and What’cha Gonna Do for Me (1981) coming later in the year too.

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I Monster - Neveroddoreven

I Monster – Neveroddoreven

Science has proven that all the best and wonkiest outfits come from Sheffield. There’s no need for me to bore you with my findings, it just is. Now the duo Dean Honer and Jarrod Gosling aka I Monster are back. Back. BACK! They had a brief mayfly existence on the hit parade a couple of decades ago when their Daydream In Blue lit up the charts, combing easy listening and slightly wonky electronics – queasy listening perhaps, like Add N To (X) emitting sonic larvae over a box of unwanted charity shop staples or a spectacularly creepy mid-’70s Doctor Who gone pop, albeit having been left near a radiator. Now, their second album, Neveroddoreven, is having a 20th anniversary reissue onto a 2LP set and also includes brand new tracks to coincide with their first live dates in 18 years. How many fucking times do I have to say essential this month?

Madonna - Celebration

Madonna – Celebration

Let’s end with Madonna, shall we? Why not. Because her Celebration compilation is being issued on 4LP set this month and is pretty good.

First issued in 2009, it came as an 18-track CD, and a 36-track 2CD and 4LP. The vinyl was as rare as hen’s teeth and original copies currently go for insane prices. That said, this ain’t cheap, but comparatively still a bit of a bargain. Rather than pick up from where 1990’s The Immaculate Collection left off, this was a non-consecutive party pack with copper-bottomed bangers such as Hung Up, Beautiful Stranger, Frozen, Take A Bow, Music, Ray Of Light added plus the less memorable ‘includes new track’ numbers Celebration and Revolver added (“My favourite Madonna song is Revolver” – no one) but even slightly sub-par Madonna still eclipses most artists’ classics.

While it would’ve been lovely to have had a 40 year overview box set type thing akin to Pet Shop Boys’ Smash box, it looks like we’re not getting one as Finally Enough Love may’ve been the closest to that idea. Anyway. It’s Madonna. It’s fabulous. Snap it up as it’s a ‘limited pressing’ (trans: don’t expect to wait around for the sales for a price reduction). Yaroo!


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More on Girls Aloud
Reissues Roundup: Madonna, Girls Aloud, Air
Girls Aloud – Out Of Control
Girls Aloud – Tangled Up
Girls Aloud – The Sound Of: The Greatest Hits
Girls Aloud – Chemistry