I wasn’t blown away by much new music released this past week, so I decided to use this playlist to showcase some of the best reissues, compilations, and archival albums of the past few months.
- Beginning with The Promise Ring’s “Red & Blue Jeans”, from their influential “Nothing Feels Good”, an album that has aged surprisingly well and whose DNA is in so much of the (alleged) emo revival (did it ever really go away?) of the past few years.
- Bob Dylan’s 12th volume of his exhaustive Bootleg Series covers the fertile period which produced “Bringing It All Back Home”, “Highway 61 Revisited”, and “Blonde on Blonde”; a streak of genius in which he could afford to leave brilliant songs like “She’s Your Lover Now” on the cutting-room floor.
- The Rolling Stones were on a similar hot streak when they released “Sticky Fingers” in 1971, and the reissue features some interesting alternate takes of classic songs. It’s not better than the properly released version, but hearing an inspired Eric Clapton on “Brown Sugar” is exciting.
- “Loaded” is The Velvet Underground’s most straightforward rock and roll album, and the last record they would release before Lou Reed left for a solo career. Every song on it is perfect, and many of the outtakes are just as good, even if most of them have already been released on previous collections.
- The do-it-yourself post-punk scene in Britain during the late ‘70s and early ‘80s produced a staggering string of excellent, quirky, and half-forgotten singles concurrent with bands like The Clash and The Police ruling the rock world. “[Cease & Desist] DIY! (Cult classics from the Post-Punk era 1978 – 82)” is a great collection of some of these lost gems.
- “Empire” is the fourth Unwound box set released by Numero Group, this one collecting “Challenge For a Civilized Society”, “Leaves Turn Inside You” and assorted tracks from that era. The vinyl sets are gorgeous objects and the music contained within is a reminder that Unwound were one of the greatest and most under-appreciated bands of their time.
- Faith No More’s best album, “Angel Dust”, still sounds just as strange and wonderful in 2015 as it did in 1992 when the band were one of the most unique bands to make inroads on alternative rock radio.
- Mariah’s “Utakata No Hibi” was released in Japan in 1983, essentially forgotten for much of the two decades following, and has become a bit of a holy grail in the past few years. “Shinzo No Tobira” is an ethereal, subdued, and glorious track featuring lyrics sung in Armenian, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head.
- Arthur Russell was a legitimate musical wunderkind, whose life was cut short by AIDS. He left behind some of the most entrancing avant-pop music ever made, and “Corn” rescues some entrancing tracks from his vault.
- “Press Color”, an album released by Lizzy Mercier Descloux in 1979, was the French singer’s dynamic answer to her New York peers Patti Smith, Television, Richard Hell, and other CBGB punk regulars.
- “Fire” is a particularly inspired cover of the Arthur Brown tune. This year has seen the massive reissuing campaign of 23 Isley Brothers albums, and most of them are absolutely worthy of your time.
- The new reissue of “Astral Weeks” features a slightly lengthened version of the gorgeous “Slim Slow Slider”.
- Rounding out the playlist, I have included “Upside Down”, a sad and beautiful Tori Amos song from the deluxe edition of her classic “Little Earthquakes”.
Hope you enjoy!
1. The Promise Ring “Red & Blue Jeans” (From “Nothing Feels Good”)
2. Bob Dylan “She’s Your Lover Now (Take 6)” (From “The Cutting Edge 1965-1966: The Bootleg Series Volume 12”)
3. The Rolling Stones “Brown Sugar (Alternate Take)” (From “Sticky Fingers (Deluxe)”)
4. The Velvet Underground “Ocean (Outtake)” (From “Loaded: Reloaded (45th Anniversary Edition)”)
5. Spunky Onions “How I Lost My Virginity” (From “[Cease & Desist] DIY! (Cult classics from the Post-Punk era 1978 – 82)”)
6. Unwound “October All Over” (From “Empire”)
7. Faith No More “A Small Victory” (From “Angel Dust (Deluxe Edition)”)
8. Mariah “Shinzo No Tobira” (From “Utakata No Hibi”)
9. Arthur Russell “Lucky Cloud” (From “Corn”)
10. Lizzy Mercier Descloux “Fire” (From “Press Color”)
11. The Isley Brothers “That Lady – Live” (From “Wild in Woodstock: The Isley Brothers Live at Bearsville Sound Studio”)
12. Van Morrison “Slim Slow Slider – Long Version” (From “Astral Weeks”)
13. Tori Amos “Upside Down” (From “Little Earthquakes (Deluxe Edition)”)
Christopher Piercy used to blog at Silence in Architecture and his mother keeps hoping he will revive the site. In the meantime, for a glimpse of how music has impacted his life, you can read “A Personal Music History” which he wrote a few years ago. It also explains quite a bit about our weird family.