Browsing Category Reissues

Various Artists – “La Contra Ola”

It’s always heartening to see that the wealth of reissue material isn’t hitting dry sands at this point. While the majors scramble to repress issues of records that could easily be found lying in the dollar bin (Janis Joplin’s Greatest Hits I’m looking your way) labels like Swiss imprint Les Disques Bongo Joe are digging into the grit and grime of post-punk, exploring the not remotely picked over fertile ground of 80’s Spanish Synth Wave. And while the album could easily act as a companion piece to the great issue Sombras (Spanish Post Punk + Dark Pop 1981-1986) that Munster put out, it picks a little deeper at the wound of Spain’s brittle underground.

As with any compilation of this type there are curiosities and obvious standouts that feel like they should have been part of the national conversation for years. Heading up the standouts is an entry from the woefully named Zombies (no relationship to the UK band) whose RCA single “Extraños Juegos” is a delight that should populate pretty much any post-punk mixtape you’ve got going. There are shades of industrial (La Fura Dels Baus), squirming nerve-pop (Tres) and frantic synth pop (Todo Todo) that seems like someone in the Sega music mill might have been listening in when soundtracking the 16-bit generation (esp. Kid Chameleon). All around, a great collection that shines a light on quite a few acts that have been languishing out of the spotlight for years. If Les Disques Bongo Joe hasn’t been on your radar up to this point, keep an eye for some truly necessary gems.


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Magic Bullets – Young Man’s Fancy

Young Man’s Fancy, a deposed album from lost summer janglers Magic Bullets, is only from about a decade ago but the influence stretches back to the heart of new wave and jangle-pop. It feels like a collection wrenched out of time, heir apparent to records from Echo to Orange Juice to The Chesterfields and, naturally, The Smiths. The band is nothing if not studied in it’s appropriation of their predecessors’ complete trappings. The members would dilute their devotion to this level of absolute homage with stints in Terry Malts, Real Estate, The Mantles, Girls, Dominant Legs and Wild Nothing, but here, lodged between their two albums, they are rabid in their affection and affectation of the ’80s own heartbeats.

While the stylistic devotion is definitely something that dogged the band, they wore their love on their sleeve, wholeheartedly starry eyed but striving. The songs crib largely from material that would end up on their sophomore release, but in earlier forms here, it’s’ still pristine but somehow also unpolished in it’s delivery. The band would splinter years later with members going on to larger acclaim, but this is a picture of their youth incarnate. Corey Cunningham’s (Terry Malts, Business of Dreams) Parked in Hell has a tape version of the collection available now for those that have missed out. Close your eyes and any of these could slot right into a mix of your own favorite gems from the ’80s underground, and as a whole, its pretty solid as scrappers looking to capture a time they missed.






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F/i – “Space Mantra”

I’m always game to expand my catalog of records that fall under the Space Rock tag and this reissue from Wisconsin’s F/i is a long undersung piece of the genre’s puzzle. The band started with a focus on noise, jumping off from Throbbing Gristle’s innovations and beginning to move towards guitars by the time they recorded a celebrated split with their brother band Boy Dirt Car in 1986. They’d full cement the sound as they embarked on their 1988 album Space Mantra, which would serve as their breakout, and become heralded as a lost classic in psych and noise for years.

Now the record is getting a proper issue on Sorcerer records, cut to the same specs as the RRRecords original. The record is swathed in noise, chugging industrial storms that swirl around, nodding heavily to their earlier work. They take those storms and pin them under the sway of groove and that’s where the record gets interesting – finding a nice mesh of Hawkwind, Neu, Popul Vuh and the aforementioned Gristle. They wind up in similar territory to fellow travelers Loop and its easy to see a long, lingering influence in bands like Moon Duo and Föllakzoid. The band continued on through the early ’00s with several augmentations to their lineup, but this album still remains a high water mark for both the group and the genre.




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Euphoria – Euphoria

Seems only serendipitous that this reissue is appearing alongside the recent effort from OCS, as Euphoria also explore a psych-tinged brand of bittersweet pop, drenched in a creamy lushness, warm as sunshine on the shoulders. Though that’s a key difference between them and their present day followers, they tend to embrace more of the sunshine pop that put them in leagues with The Mamas and Papas, The Free Design or even Sapphire Thinkers. Like those groups, the band embraced male/female harmonies and a beautifully swooning version of pop that, unfortunately for them, fell out of favor just about the time that their eponymous debut surfaced on Heritage Records.

The band evolved out of the Greenwich Village folk boom, merging the circuit riding duo Roger and Wendy with the slightly sturdier songwriting of Tom Pacheco. As the band emerged from their recording sessions with a finished product, the winds shifted and the record label pulled the bulk of its promotion. As is too typical the record languished, the group splintered, and the record remains a much bigger gem in hindsight than it was ever acknowledged as at the time. The members went on to a few other projects (Bermuda Triangle and Pacheco & Alexander) after the dissolution of the band, but this remains the members’ most lasting work. Anyone with a love for Sunshine-psych or ’60s chamber pop will do well to get into this one, it’s more than just a curio of the era, not a chart-topper, but a record that explores a vibrant strain of folk that’s dripping with sighed melancholy.




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Day of Phoenix – Wide Open N-Way

Despite calling a heavy host of West Coast Cali-psych their pocket of influence, the Danes behind Day of Phoenix manage to adapt the sound to a less sunny climate with a good dose of melancholy. The band admittedly emulates Clear Light, Love and The Doors, so there’s certainly a focus on the darker side of that sound to begin with, but they manage to focus in on the starkest ends of the “Summer of Love” to create their own sighed signature. There’s an excellently subdued quality to the record, full of great riffs, but fuller still of a dark, clouded atmosphere that’s putting out a closed off and sullen vibe – an antidote to all the peace and love coming out of their American counterparts.

Day of Phoenix wound up opening for Colosseum when they were playing Denmark and impressed the band’s bassist Tony Reeves, who wound up producing this as well as a follow-up album. That seemed to cap productivity for the band though, save for a preceding single of covers with a different lineup. This album alone marks them as one of the strongest of their particular time and place, though. The band’s original member Cy Nicklin would leave before this album and transition to the more well known Culpeper’s Orchard, though the rest of the band seemed to dissipate after the slow reaction to their sophomore LP. Vinilisssimo does the original pressing good, reproducing the album’s harem shot that’s bringing to mind some Town and Country vibes.




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Gökçen Kaynatan – S/T

I’d trust Finders Keepers to get me briefed on anything from the glory days of Turkish psych. The label has already proven their mettle with releases from Selda Bagcan, Gençlik Ile Elele and Ersen and they seem to have a conduit that few Westerners are plugged into. They continue the riffling of the past with a reissue of the compiled works of Gökçen Kaynatan. Already a burgeoning part of the Anatolian rock scene and a builder of custom instruments, he was a pioneer of introducing electronics into the folds of Turkish pop.

His discography spanned just four singles, but with access to a private studio filled with technological wonders of the time he pushed psych-pop out of its fuzz-laden lair and into much weirder and wilder territory than before. There were certainly others doing similar work across Germany and eventually the US and UK, but Kaynatan gives it that touch of Anatolian flair that’s endeared the likes of Barış Manço and Erkin Koray to me over the years. The songs slink with a strange funk and reach for something intangibly cool. Following this work, Kaynatan began a career that would see him shape the sound of programs on Turkish National channel TRT 1. Somehow its not surprising that this auteur wound up in Library compositions as there’s definitely a feeling of that ilk pressed between these nine gems.




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Claude Lombard – Chante

Early in her career, Belgian singer Claude Lombard came to the attention of many Europeans with her song “Quand tu reviendras” (“When You Come Back”), which was entered into the Eurovision contest in 1968. Americans, no doubt having no real recollection of the Eurovision contest, or the ’68 year in particular’s allegations of vote rigging, would have absolutely no touchstone for Lombard. However, the following year after her seventh place entry in the contest, she recorded this undersung gem of psychedelic chamber folk. The record, sung entirely in French, leans well into the burgeoning styles of psych-folk that were cropping up in the US and UK at the time, but swings with an proto-motorik pop appeal on several tracks. As has been noted, the resulting record swirls with the same kind of fragile hallucinogenic qualities that would surface in works by Stereolab, Broadcast and more recently, Jane Weaver.

The record is a pristine lounge classic, conjuring up images of Dutch modern furniture and molded plastic vases. The record is haunting in its almost perfect vision of edge-less pop swaddled in Lombard’s radiant delivery. Following the record Lombard would not achieve pop prominence, though she would record a few other albums and continue to sing with several French television programs including the French version of Fraggle Rock. Spain’s Sommor records has put her masterpiece back into print and a generation now reared on Stereolab and Broadcast should probably take notice. The record hasn’t lost a step since its inception and may actually have become more relevant in the interim, proving once again there’s still no bottom in the barrel of invaluable reissues if you look hard enough.




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VA – Even A Tree Can Shed Tears

Light in the Attic, like Numero, has never gone in for half measures. When a release is compiled, they’re throrough, swaddling it in impeccable design and restoring lost music to its rightful place on your speakers. So, with this in mind it was an exciting announcement that the label would be starting a new Japanese archival series looking at different scenes and subgenres throughout the region. Their first take puts the focus on the ’60s and the folk movement that grew out of student protests, “authentic folk” leanings and the beginnings of psychedelic folk. Much of this came under the banner of “New Music” which tied together the Eastern and Western regional strains.

The collection is stitched with a wonderful slide in and out of the more authentic, stripped-down artists, many of whom find a plaintive beauty in their compositions. The songs are clearly leaning away from what would have been traditional Japanese folk, but also working in the same way that their British and American counterparts had contrasted the more pop sounding beat groups. While there’s certainly an argument to be made for more Japanese traditional influence to rear its head, this collection stands as an interesting argument for the West’s pervasiveness on young people at the time.

Light in the Attic has shone a light over many voices that seem left out of the current conversation in Japanese music. It’s easy to connect the dots between Takashi Nishioka’s subtle boil of fuzz and later works by Masaki Batoh. For me, personally, so much of my contact with Japanese music is rooted in the noisier ends of psych, the discordant ends of rock and, when scrubbed up, the more beat-leaning ’60s groups like Jacks or Apryl Fool. It’s great to have a collection that brings the underground beauty of these artists to the foreground. Can’t wait to see what LIA digs into in this series next, but for now, this one’s a keeper.

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Twink – Think Pink

Twink, Pearls Before Swine, what’s gotten into 2017? The reexamination of excellent reissues of the outer edges of ’60s psychedelic music continues. The man called Twink (aka John Alder) was a founding member of such luminaries as The Pretty Things, Tomorrow, The Deviants, and The Pink Fairies. He then went on to form a very short lived band with Syd Barrett in the post-Floyd years (Stars). Twink’s tenure in The Pretty Things lasted through their S.F. Sorrow days, but he left before the release of Parachute. It’s following this period that he recorded Think Pink with members of what would become The Deviants alongside rogue members of The Pretty Things and Steve Took of Tyrannosaurus Rex.

The album, though commercially released, was really a warm up for the coming of The Pink Fairies. Members Mick Farren, Twink and Steve Took along with the addition keyboardist Sally Meltzer would form the original (though not album version) of that band. Twink’s lone solo outing would, however, exemplify his standing as one of the lights of the UK underground rock scene. He was known, as many at the time were, more for his stage antics than his adept playing. Still he managed to know the right people and work the right angles to become integral to the core of ’60s psychedelia. As such Think Pink is full of indulgently chugging riffs, glorious fuzz breakdowns and effects touches for ‘the heads.’ It’s about as quintessential a snapshot of the frayed edges of that scene as could be captured.

There are no singles on the LP, there’s nothing that’s overtly catchy about the album and while that might be construed as a commercial weakness in hindsight it ends up its strength, feeling more on the pulse of what might have been working in clubs than what’s often known as canon of the period. This new reissue reinstates the original mono mix that was intended for Decca’s release. Bound to run out to the most ardent collectors, but it’s a great curio of the time for sure. Recommended to pick it up if you can! \




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Pearls Before Swine – One Nation Underground

I’ll admit, I’ve been a bit lax about covering reissues lately. I think maybe we’ve hit a strange lull where so many essentials have been reissued that the releases left working their way out can often be scraping the sides of the barrel or fluffing up some of the majors’ sense of importance of their back catalog. Though that doesn’t mean there’s not reason to go back and revisit some of those essentials. Case in point, Drag City is giving vital new life to Tom Rapp’s classic debut as Pearls Before Swine. The record has, in fact, been reissued several times, and even covered here. Sadly though, it suffered the fate of many ’60s gems with inferior pressings and poor attention to detail. This version, a marking of the album’s 50th anniversary, works from the original tapes to restore the album to a mono pressing with both Rapp and producer Richard Alderson involved in the process.

So if you had a previous version maybe ditch it, unless it’s an original, in which case count yourself damn lucky. The record was issued on the always essential, pivotal and topical ESP-disc in 1967. It’s got quite a few hallmarks of the folk boom of the time, but pushes itself out of the ranks of Dylan acolytes, sharing similarities with the irreverence of The Fugs, The dark sincerity of Nick Garrie, and the flippant psych-folk of Country Joe and The Fish. The record boasts early takes on Vietnam protest material, avant-garde connections to Fasssbinder films and status as a true underground hit that pushed ESP’s prominence at the time.

If it were a mere folk strummer it might have marginal interest, but what makes Pearls Before Swine stand out is the dark overtones that Rapp weaves through his songs. Even the simple jangle of “Another Time” is marked by its dark subject matter of near death experience. The rest of the album is drenched in farfisa, haunting flutes and Rapp’s lonesome pining all swathed in an overtly disturbing print from Hieronymous Bosch. The album has long been the kind of cypher to nerdom that stokes conversations in both psychedelic collectors and folk freaks alike. It is, without a doubt, more than deserving of a definitive version. I’m not one for lavish anniversary issues, but this might have to be the exception to the rule.




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