New year, new reissues! Herewith, January’s stately transglobal meander through compilations, anniversary editions and music history from across the years
Hello hello. Pop headquarters, This is Wadey, the lovely lassie with the classy chassis. HOW ARE YOU, picklers? Good Christmas? All that? Well *showbiz secret face* most of this column is a pre-record from mid-December, and technically one of these entries was done back in September but was put back – oh yeah, this isn’t amateur hour, this shit’s PLANNED – and seeing as the last thing on your mind right now is dropping a load of cash on some box sets, I’m here to woo you siren-ly onto the rocks of your overdraft as those tokens are no doubt burning a hole in your pockets. So let’s get to it and focus, yeah?
If there is one person who knows how to put a compilation together, it’s Jon Savage. Following 2021’s futurist assemblage Do You Have The Force? and 1972-1976: All Our Times Have Come, he’s moved on a couple of years with 1977-1979: Symbols Clashing Everywhere towards the wild west-esque intersection of invention where punk, new wave, disco and electronic music offered new routes and ideas.
Any 2CD set that features The Human League’s Being Boiled, Sheila & B Devotion’s Spacer and Magic Fly by Space on is alright by me and is already one of the family – it comes to the stock car racing, it comes to Llandudno etc – and if you throw in bangers by The Cramps, The Banshees, B-52’s, Scritti Politti, Giorgio Moroder and Talking Heads too, well, you’re actually looking at the compilation of the year already. Let me recommend that you purchase this instantly.
I tell you what’s brilliant – Hunky Dory by David Bowie is brilliant. This isn’t up for debate and I’d have you AND your mates outside in a pub car park if you disagree. Anyway, it was 50 years old last month and so it’s being reissued as a limited edition picture disc to coincide with what would have been David’s 75th birthday. So now you can swoon at the magnificence of it all (and possibly feel a bit dizzy in the process). It’s the 2015 remaster, audio fans, and there’s a poster involved too. Yaroo!
Saint Etienne had a very good 2021, what with their tremendous I’ve Been Trying To Tell You long player being rightly regarded as one of the year’s best. They also celebrated 30 years of the existence of their splendid debut Foxbase Alpha in October, and initially for fans they issued it as a green vinyl edition with a free CD of extra doodah.
Now it’s available in the wider world (minus the CD) for those who aren’t as on the ball. I could wang on for several thousand words about how brilliant this album is (and tbh I have done over the years) and how it conjured up a wonderful world of joyous adventure via the means of Neil Young covers, pop culture references and some of the best and most ebullient music imaginable, but if it still has somehow eluded you for the past three decades, then you should really address that issue asap.
Staying in 1991 for a paragraph or two, C-91 follows on from the trailblazing C-86 tape that the NME offered back in yore, by hypothetically imagining what it would sound like in the following years. A sort-of state of the nation of what indie was, if you will. This tremendous 3CD set features future superstars such as Manic Street Preachers, Saint Etienne, The Charlatans and The Cranberries, and it’s a rush of nostalgia to hear Chapterhouse’s Pearl, Sultans Of Ping FC’s Where’s Me Jumper, World Of Twist’s Sweets, and, oh god, Boo Radleys’ Finest Kiss (WHAT a fucking number) again, and to see names such as The High, Northside, Th’ Faith Healers, Catherine Wheel, Paris Angels, Moose and (ex-rivals from my hometown who I’m not remotely jealous of at all oh no) Bleach. It’s like Snub TV in a clamshell and fabulous, even if it brings back harrowing memories of when I could stare through my hair.
*in earpiece* What, there’s more 1991 action to be had? Good heavens. So yes, reports are reaching me of the long-awaited reissue of Banderas’ Ripe album, which is an album very fondly regarded by a lot of people but which pretty much evaporated once 1991 was done. Sally Herbert and Caroline Buckley met while playing for The Communards, and so had seen the inside of the Top Of The Pops studio and ‘fancied a bit of that’.
Signing to London, they concocted Ripe with Stephen Hague producing, and it featured contributions from Jimmy Somerville, Johnny Marr and New Order‘s Bernard Sumner. The new 2CD edition comes a-loaded with remixes, and seven tracks new to CD, and there’s sleevenotes with an interview conducted by Jimmy Somerville. How jolly!
“The record is flawed. A majestic train wreck of emotion, overwrought, and overdone. I love it.” Not my words, but those of Bernard Butler speaking about his solo debut album People Move On, which is out, out OUT again this month in an expanded 2LP and 4CD configuration on Demon. Originally released on Creation in 1998, it was Bernard’s first release since he left the Suede group in 1994, and featured guests such as Denise Johnson and Edwyn Collins.
In an interesting move, he’s decided to ‘re-vocal’ the entire album and B-sides, (the vinyl is all re-vocals only) and these new versions sit alongside the original album and B-sides as a compare-and-contrast experience for listeners on the CDs. With a fourth disc of demos, live versions and string sessions, it’s all the People Move On you could possibly want.
Viola Beach were a Warrington-based indie-facing four-piece outfit who looked set to go on to big things. They’d made an album, starting to play the festival circuit and all was very promising indeed until they were all tragically killed, along with their manager, when the car they were travelling in fell off a bridge in Sweden in 2016.
The indie world rallied around to pay tribute, with Kasabian, Liam Gallagher, The Courteneers and The Coral either offering support or playing a concert in their honour, and Coldplay performed the band’s song Boys That Sing during their headline set at Glastonbury. With their families’ blessing, their self-titled debut was issued in June that year and went straight in at Number 1. Now, five years on from the incident, it’s being issued on vinyl for the first time.
Cornershop And The Double ‘O’ Groove Of album, which features Bubbley Kaur, is coming out on vinyl for the first time ever this month. You heard. It’s celebrating ten years since its release and you have to applaud that it’s being issued as a limited edition of 500 copies on Indian Wedding Sweetmeat Celebrations sticky transparent yellow vinyl via their ampleplay site, and your traditional ‘all good record shops’ too.
Bubbley had originally met Tjinder in a Preston cellar years ago, however when Tjinder’s taxi-driving friend mentioned that he knew a lady who worked in a launderette and liked singing, it turned out to be Bubbley. What are the chances? It features the fabulous Topknot single, and indeed the whole thing is rather fabulous in general. Snap it up before you lose out, yeah?
Led by Jeffrey Lee Pierce, The Gun Club were one of those bands that probably sold even less than Velvet Underground but had as much of an impact on all those who heard them (“actually, I think you’ll find Velvet Underground were slightly bigger than what history books and anecdotal evidence claim, dude” – Velvet Underground Ed)
Rightio, well, anywho, people like Nick Cave and Primal Scream thought they were really marvy, if that helps, and as president of a Blondie fan club, Jeffrey of ver Gun Club nudged them to release Hanging On The Telephone and he eventually ended up signed to Chris Stein’s Animal label. Preaching The Blues is the name of a 7 inch vinyl box set which contains six singles with reprinted original artwork plus a collection of demos. There’s also a book chocka full of exclusive unseen photos and testimonies from the likes of Thurston Moore and Henry Rollins, plus a badge and postcard, which makes this quite the package for any Gun Club completist.
There’s a couple of Aretha Franklin vinyl reissues out this month from her pre-Atlantic era. There’s Unforgettable (Tribute To Dinah Washington), originally released in February 1964, literally three months after Dinah Washington died at the age of 39. While they never actually met, Dinah was a big inspiration on Aretha and had also known her dad. It features What A Diff’rence a Day Made, Unforgettable and This Bitter Earth and comes in a limited clear vinyl.
From 1965, comes Aretha’s seventh studio album Yeah!!!, which sort-of sold itself as a live album – even having some audience mumbling dubbed on – but was actually recorded ‘live’ in the studio. It features Aretha charging through standards such as Misty, If I Had a Hammer and There Is No Greater Love and is now being reissued on purple vinyl.
Next up we have… oh wait. I can hear someone coughing theatrically and there’s a whiff of Kouros in the corridor. It can only mean it’s the return of Dudley over on the Futurist Desk. I’d say ‘by popular demand’ but that would be pushing it. Show us what you got, Dudders.
“Thank you – I think – and hello again my chrome-suited forward people. Yes, there are a couple of albums that I’ve beamed down to alert you of this month. It brings me great pleasure to bring forth news of a long-awaited vinyl reissue of Thomas Leer and Robert Rental’s The Bridge. Originally released on Throbbing Gristle’s Industrial Records, it literally invented everything and as a result their roles as pioneers was secure. They toured with The Normal and even got on the cover of Melody Maker at the time, despite recording on stylophones and manipulating tapes. Because Rental wasn’t that into playing live, the whole thing fell apart shortly afterwards, and so Leer went on to form Act with Claudia Brucken, and he still releases music to this day. The Bridge is one of those albums that still sounds a bit like tomorrow, and that’s surely the point of being a futurist, is it not?”
Thanks Dudley. Yes, if anyone knows the point of being a futurist, it’s you sweetheart.
“You’re too kind.”
Yes, Dudley, I am.
Moving along swiftly now, we have…
“I haven’t finished.”
“No, for I bring news of the reissue of New Musik’s From A To B, actually, thank you, and I’m pleased to reveal that it’s coming out on 2LP with the original album now packaged with another disc containing seven bonus tracks. Originally released in 1980, it contains the hits Living By Numbers and This World Of Water and is a birrova hidden nugget. If I was a waiter in a restaurant and you asked me to suggest a dish then I’d offer up this.”
Okay, that made very little sense, but point well made, Dudley. Point well made. Now can I carry on?
“Yes, for I’m off upstairs to play me tapes. Toodle pip!”
Phew, I thought he’d never leave.
So yeah, you know that feeling you have when you’re in a bed that hasn’t had the sheets changed for a few weeks – come now, we’ve all done it, we’re not savages – but there’s a genteel unease creeping in that after each time you make the bed, that one sheet isn’t perfectly straight and so thoughts of stripping the bed to make yourself stop fretting begin to take over? That’s a pleasant, more human, description of my current state of mind in recent weeks. Fortunately, when such terrors occur, I turn to dub.
Not literally. I mean the work that King Tubby made with Horace Andy. So imagine my relief this month as if my badly-made bed dreams have been answered with the news that Horace Andy’s The King Tubby Tapes is a-coming out on double vinyl. It’s Horace’s 1979 album Pure Ranking with a whole host of dub accessorising and it’s the first time it’s been out in, ooh, ages, and it’s very ace.
Continuing her reissue campaign of her artistic journey, PJ Harvey has got up to Let England Shake this month. As has been the case with the Harvey harvest, it now comes with a separate disc of Demos on LP and CD, rather than as a bonus disc package deluxe, which has been a sensible way around the whole reissue campaign for time-busy PJ Harvey fans who probably already have the original album.
It won a well-deserved Mercury – her second – as well as an Ivor Novello, but also reminds you that she’s only released one other studio album in the interim. Not that she’s been sitting on her arse since then as there’s been soundtracks and music for theatre, books of poetry and the like, but *taps watch* it would be nice to have a brand-new album soon.
You’re probably wondering what that banging is going on in the background, and I can reveal, dear reader, that it’s the construction of the Now That’s What I Call Music Desk. In honour of some of their fantastic compilations in the last 12 months, it seemed only fair to ask them to finally move in. They’ve decided to release another brace of cracking compilations this month, handy round-ups of genres that will tickle anyone’s fancy.
First up, we’re focusing our attention on Now That’s What I Call Punk & New Wave which is a 89-track 4CD or 34-track NEON PINK 2LP set. It’s a pisstake how amazing this is – the usual suspects are all present and correct (Clash, Banshees, Undertones, Buzzcocks, Ramones, Damned, X-Ray Spex etc) and it also takes in some corkers such as Marianne Faithfull’s Broken English, Flying Lizards’ Money, B-52’s‘ Rock Lobster, ROCKWROK BY ULTRAVOX OMG, The Cure’s A Forest and Public Image Ltd’s Public Image. It’s full of snot and cum and possibly a bit of cheap, shady speed, not that your correspondent would know anything about that. Ahem.
The other release, and oh my – hold me – is Now That’s What I Call Electronic. I can’t begin to explain the amazingness here. Sure, there’s the tunes that are duty-bound to be on such a collection – Blue Monday, Tainted Love, Quiet Life, Cars, Enola Gay etc – alongside some rarely licensed out gear such as Party Fears Two, Nightclubbing, Do You Wanna Funk, Living On The Ceiling, Buffalo Gals, Close (To The Edit), The Walk etc.
The 4CD set even hands over a disc to some of the incredible dance music that emerged adjacent to the era of the futurists – Shannon, S.O.S. Band, Company B, Freeez, Man 2 Man Meets Man Parrish. Personally, it feels as if someone reached inside my head when I see the four greatest singles ever made (I Feel Love, Love Action, Let The Music Play and Steppin’ Out since you asked) on one album.
Further Now magic comes in the form of Now Yearbook Extra 1984. As was the case with the 1983 edition, this comes with 60 tracks that dig slightly further beneath the surface of that fantastic year, populated with some classics that fell off the first one’s spreadsheet. As we established before, 1984 was one of the greatest years for pop, and so a further delve into it is most welcome with highlights including Freddie Mercury’s Love Kills, ABC’s S.O.S., ZZ Top’s Sharp Dressed Man, The Human League’s Life On Your Own, Tina Turner’s Private Dancer and speaking as someone who spent much of the first lockdown wearing white Levi’s and absorbing anything Style Council-based, there’s My Ever Changing Moods and Shout To The Top. It’s £8 too. I mean, honestly. It’s top stuff.
For a band that released literally two albums and seven singles, the catalogue of Frankie Goes To Hollywood has seen its fair share of compiling. There’s been 12 compilations released over the years, reshuffling the familiar numbers around a bit, but crucially, reminding everyone what an absolutely fucking amazing thing Frankie Goes To Hollywood actually were.
The 3CD Essential is the latest in the long line of them, but the clue is in the title here. A nice, classy mix of all the highlights and more, and at the price of a bottle of Fist ‘room odoriser’, you can’t argue. They may have been brief, but boy were they magnificent. Frankie, that is. Not the poppers. You should keep those in the freezer *household tips face*
Another man who knew his way around a reswizzle was the late, great, nay legendary Andrew Weatherall, whose remixes for Heavenly turns make up Volume 3 & 4 of their splendid Heavenly Remixes series.
Both out as 2LP or 1CD sets, they’re worth stumping up for the Flowered Up toe-tapper Weatherall’s Weekender (Audrey Is A Little Bit More Partial) and Saint Etienne’s Only Love Can Break Your Heart (A Mix Of Two Halves) opuses alone. He also gets under the bonnet of tracks by Doves, Confidence Man, The Orielles, Sly & Lovechild and Espiritu among many others. It’s a wonderful thing (baby).
Let our thoughts now turn to the music of The Shed Seven, and their album A Maximum High, which is celebrating 25 years of being available. Due to my strict criteria of discussing albums being released in the specific month of the column, I’m still some 1,000 or so words away from my usual length, and I’ve had a drink.
So yes! A Maximum High, then. It now comes as a 3LP set which reimagines the special edition CD that they released at the end of the album’s original campaign, and it’s bowling ball coloured – look if Cornershop are having ‘Indian Wedding Sweetmeat Celebrations’ vinyl, then why not a bowling ball? – and it’s the original album with all the B-sides plus two new tracks.
And, get this, there’s also a box set which has that album alongside In Colour, which is the band live at Hanover Grand, plus a CD of demos and the like from the era. It comes in a box (as box sets tend to) and there’s an exclusive art print and tour laminate among the ephemera too. To paraphrase the Bee Gees – ‘nobody gets too much Seven no more’, but in this instance and judging by the still encouraged fanbase, it will get lapped up.
One of the worst aspects of 2021 was the deaths of several reggae legends. Lee Scratch Perry may have hoovered up the tributes, but we also lost another hugely important figure in U Roy (Asman Euwart Beckford to his mum) who died in February. Fortunately for us he left a trail of fantastic music behind, and Version Galore, a new 2CD that collects 1971’s original Version Galore along with the eponymous U Roy album from 1993.
These are made up of U’s revolutionary DJ sides that he recorded for Treasure Isle in Jamaica and enabled him to become a DJ superstar, in collaboration with the likes of The Paragons, The Melodians, Alton Ellis and The Three Tops. There are 17 bonus tracks across the package, four of which are new to CD, which has got to be a bonus attraction should you need such a thing.
Ol’ Frank Black/ Black Francis has a right old busy month of reissuing going on. First up there’s the small (well, if you can call an 8LP set ‘small’) matter of Pixies Live In Brixton – not just any live shows, these were the four shows the band played in 2004 after reuniting, which comes in Red, Orange, Green and Blue vinyl – or if you’re if you’re a frequent visitor to your local indie shop, it comes in the same colours but as ‘splatter’ vinyl – and each colour corresponds with the date of the shows. You could go for the 8CD set perhaps, which follows the similar order. Anyway, it’s in a box with a book and poster and all very handsome.
Also, after several delays, Black Francis finally reissues the last three albums from his solo catalogue this month: a reimagined 2LP soundtrack to the 1920 horror film The Golem (on grey vinyl); the written-in-a-Cadillac Nonstoperotik (on crimson vinyl) from 2010, and the 2011 collaboration with Reid Paley called Paley & Francis. So that’s nice.
*grabs coat* Are we done here? Is that it? What do you mean that’s still 3,400 words? Dude, I’ve written more here than I’ve done on my book in the last six months. And so on that note, I bid you good day. GOOD DAY. See you in February, sausages.