Browsing Category Reissues

Adorable – Against Perfection

Every once in a while, a true classic slips back out into the world without anyone kicking up to much of a fuss. Just as I was about to work in a Necessary Repress feature on the great – but often dismissed by American audiences – debut by Adorable, I doubled checked and it was due out this month from Music On Vinyl. The Dutch label has a habit of rescuing albums from both the fringe and from the zeitgeist. They’ve been especially handy at working through the period of ‘90s and ‘00s records that began to elude major runs on vinyl, and thus, like Against Perfection have run up huge tabs on Discogs and eBay.

The band had a famously fraught relationship with both its label and the music press. They garnered early praise for the single “Sunshine Smile,” though, which won them hearts at NME and an entry to Alan McGee who’d sign them to Creation. While the songs on Against Perfection were incredible – clear heirs to both the noise of a shoegaze hangover from the years previous and to the swooning pop of Echo & The Bunnymen, the band’s timing always seemed to be off. That connection to shoegaze meant they were on the tail end of trends in a country often too enamored of what’s next. Since 1993 was the year Britpop broke, it seems that Adorable were pedaling murk in a land looking for pristine pop. Abroad, the record was released in the US through SBK, who was having some tense relations with Creation at the time. Their souring on Creation acts and didn’t help to push Adorable on American audiences and the record would languish low on the charts in a crowded field of grunge in 1993.

Further adding to their troubles was the fraught relationship with UK music press, who apparently found them too cocky. It seems that anyone working in shoegaze should put up walls and be withdrawn – wan geniuses in tattered sweaters. Guess the press saved all their patience for loudmouth swagger for the rising tide of Britpop, lord knows there was enough cockiness there to fill quotas. When Sony took over Creation the band felt pressured by their shortcomings to quickly produce a follow up. The resulting Fake was nowhere near the proper successor to Against Perfection and as feared, the band was dropped a mere three years after signing with Creation. So, it’s good to have the debut back on the turntable, especially without the typical $100+ pricetag. If, like me, you came to this one late due to US press covering about one British band a month, then now’s the perfect moment to make up for lost time. Kinda feel like it might be another 25 years before they press this one again.



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Danny Graham – S/T

Since it seems there’s still no light at the bottom of the well of overlooked and lost releases out there, it’s heartening to come across a release like Dany Graham’s eponymous 1980 LP. Despite the time stamp showing the dawn of the ’80s, the record is rooted firmly in wobbly ‘70s songwriter territory, sharing a bent sense of pop with the R. Stevie Moore / Bobb Trimble / Carl Simmons set, but in spirit it perhaps sidles up most closely with Deep Freeze Mice. Like the Mice the album has a ‘60s hangover that’s squeezed through a scrappy private press filter. The record was such a non-starter that when contacted years later by issuing label Xerox searching for information on Graham, many of the session players didn’t even know the album had seen light originally.

There are moments of pure pop brilliance on the album, albeit refracted through rough production patches, an apparent lack of editing and a nice warm lap of hiss. Graham nails softball soul (“Early Morning Heatwave”), mad-eyed folk-pop (“We’ll Make A Deal (In Amsterdam), “Love Start”) and soft rock (“Feeling You Beside Me”). As an actual album, its admittedly a bit uneven, but as a collection it wraps up all of the brain fragments Graham let slip through the tape in fine form. There’s definitely a certain type of collector that’s going to revel in this and even more cultivators of lost psychedelic ephemera who are going to find the missing piece in their mixtape of melted pop they’ve been searching for. Kudos to Xerox for digging up this treasure and with word they’re also shining up Graham’s sole other release for a new issue, it seems there’s more to love on the way.




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Brean / Raskovich / Kema – The Pawnshop

This year is rife with soundtrack reissues and Library discoveries, but there’s still plenty of room for a nugget like The Pawnshop. The name was chosen as an alias by a group of names among names if you’re a fan of Italian Library funk and psych. The band, comprised of Giuliano Sorgini (Raskovich), Alessandro Alessandroni (Braen) and Giulia De Mutiis (Kema), laid these tracks down to fill out two 7″s in sessions during 1970 and ’71. The tracks were recorded in the den of some of the most biting Library cuts from the era, Sound Work Shop, which fed into the RAI television system.

What’s made the sides so valuable is that not only were the scant original 7″s small in quantity, but over the years the very moniker of The Pawnshop was erased from the kept discographies of those artists involved. Sorgini and Alessandroni would collaborate further as the pair Raskovich and Braen, knocking out the bizarre Inchiesta Giudiziaria for Octopus Records, the outre Drammatico for Panda and the menacing Quarta Pagina (Poliziesco) for International HiFi. Still, the Pawnshop recordings remained something of a lost ark to many and to sweeten the pot, Four Flies has dug up and dusted off the masters and added a previously unheard track, “Please, Don’t Say No!” to the release. As far as top tier prog, psych sides go, these are about as good as it gets. Included with instrumental sides and presented on color variant sleeves. If you’re just diving into Library Music, this is a good place to start.


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The Action – Rolled Gold

Out of print on LP now for quite a few years, The Action’s lone collection Rolled Gold achieved legendary status in collector’s circles. Before it was issued in the late ‘90s the recordings present here existed, shamefully, as shelved demos for an album that was never to be. The band started as a four piece in 1963 called The Boys and issue one lone single under that name on PYE. While that didn’t catapult them into stardom The Boys became the basis for The Action, who’d add Pete Watson on guitar and expand to a five piece whose toughened sound found fans in the burgeoning Mod scene, often garnering comparisons to The Small Faces and The Who. It’s under these circumstances that the band was found by George Martin and signed to EMI with high hopes.

The band’s early works tapped into their affinity for blue-eyed soul, with Reg King’s versions of “Land of 1,000 Dances,” and “I’ll Keep on Holding On” crashing at the charts despite hindsight proving them to be some of the best “beat” versions of the songs and certainly the best by a non-American contender. The band evolved several times over the next few years, pushing further towards progressive sounds that didn’t fit EMI’s vision for them. They’d adopt a more folk lean akin to The Byrds, which the songs on Rolled Gold showcase nicely, though the more progressive songs don’t temper the Small Faces vibes with “Brain” finding itself a good accompaniment to “Afterglow (Of Your Love).”

The album was shelved indefinitely after their single “Little Boy” failed to chart but remained for years in the EMI vaults. Eventually the shifting visions led Reg King to leave the group, with newly added keyboard player Ian Whitman assuming control of the band. Under his tenure they’d shift briefly to the name Azoth before finally becoming the vastly different and equally revered Mighty Baby. Guerssen has given the LP a new life and a gussied-up packaging worthy of its lost classic status.



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Simonetti-Pignatelli-Morante – Tenebrae Soundtrack

Waxwork has undertaken the task of bringing the definitive version of the soundtrack to Dario Argento’s Tenebrae. The film marked a return to Giallo horror following his two classic supernatural thrillers Susperia and Inferno. Notably the soundtrack too takes a shift from his previous films. Whereas Susperia (as well as ‘75’s Deep Red) was set against the frantic prog backdrop of Goblin, and Inferno utilized Keth Emerson’s over the top organ/opera insanity, Tenebrae drew on an amended form of Goblin, who began to update their ‘70s sound. The Italian auteurs made a name associated with Argento’s films but they’d disbanded in 1980. At Argento’s request he employed a three-piece version of the band, who, given the film’s “not too distant future” setting, embraced elements of disco and early electronic pop, then set them into their driving prog impulses. The soundtrack is credited to Simonetti-Pignatelli-Morante, owing to their drummer owning the Goblin name, but its pure Goblin in its construction, leaning on synths in brilliant ways and opening itself up as a slinking and slick addition to the film’s suspense.

The band’s earlier soundtracks often get the glory, and in Susperia’s case its well-deserved, but to discount Tenebrae’s score is to do the band a disservice. Critically it has been noted that the score ties so well into the movie it almost becomes another character rather than a passive bedrock. The soundtrack’s embrace of dance elements lead to tracks popping up in clubs and enjoying remixes. Waxwork has gone all out to embrace this, giving it lush packaging designed by Nikita Kaun that features a die cut sleeve. While the composers felt it was overshadowed by the success of their earlier works, this most recent reissue proves that it had as lasting an impact as Argento’s own innovations with film.



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Dave Evans – The Words In Between

Earth Records pick up a folk classic from the often-overlooked Dave Evans. While the British songwriter came to prominence on his status as a fingerpicked impresario, on his debut album he employs mournful vocals that strike a chord not unlike Bert Jansch or Roy Harper. Its in that same lonesome, man at the end of a long night weariness that he settles, but he stands apart from both of his contemporaries and more technical players like Renbourn or Basho with his hugely harmonic style of playing. Evans constructed his own instrument and those modifications emphasized his prowess on the strings.

The record was a humble affair, recorded in the home studio of fellow folk singer Ian Anderson and the warmth and intimacy of the setting seeps through the speakers, unfettered and embracing the listener with Evans’ tangles of strings and amber-hued delivery. He adds further charms to the homespun album with the yearning background vocals from Adrienne Weber whose presence in a song is always welcome. The Words In Between has long been cited as a lost classic and inspiration for many who tumble over the strings rather than see fit to strum. Earth does the record well with their reissue that reimagines the cover art slightly and gives this LP another shot for the uninitiated. If you count among those ranks, get familiar.



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Action Painting! – Trial Cuts 1989-1995

Emotional Response is stepping up and doing the universe a solid by rounding up the corners of the Sarah Records catalog and issuing them as much-needed archival compilations. There are full plans to get works by Secret Shine, Even As We Speak, Boyracer and Action Painting! together. For now, though, they’ve got the latter two pressed and dressed for your consumption. Action Painting! found their way to the seminal label late in the game. The Gosport band still operated within Sarah’s system of jangles and sighs, but they updated the sound with a harder edge than many of their labelmates, roping in a love for The Jam and The Go-Betweens then mashing them into an apparent swooning for The Buzzcocks.

Sadly, the band would only issue four singles in their tenure, three for Sarah and one for Damaged Goods, all of which rear their head on Trial Cuts 1980-1995, as do a fair number of demos that speak to what could have been had the band gotten ‘round to getting that LP together proper. This collection will have to stand in the stead of a real album, and while it’s a bit sprawling given that the band likely hat a taught ten or twelve piece they could have hacked out, it does cull together all the material collectors could ever whimper about in one convenient package. For jangle fans, new wave nuts, punk hangers-on and the like this is a pretty solid set that puts straight the history on a band lost to the fringes. Recommended you get into this one as soon as possible.



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Taj Mahal Travellers – August 1974

It’s been a hell of year for out of print Japanese psych classics. With Black Editions firing on all cylinders there’s plenty to love from the depths of the PSF empire but Aguirre’s creeping in with a classic of their own. The Belgian imprint has rounded up the cosmic float of Taj Mahal Travellers’ definitive album, August 1974, in all its double-wide glory. The band, known for their eclectic live performances and outdoor improvisations, took to the studios at Columbia Japan for four pieces stretched over four sides, each a deeper dive into electronic quaver, echoplexed violin, growled drones, and charring feedback. The record stands at the apex of Japanese improv and its tendrils wrap deep into the following decades’ younger players as one of the main influences of the new psychedelic front. Though it’s clear that the band had a heavy link to their German Progressive counterparts around the same time, effectively taking up the far east version of Kosmiche on this record, they give the proceedings a distinctly Japanese bent, taking what they’d acquired from a few EU tours and bending it to their will in the studio setting.

Aside from this record the only other official document from the band while active was July 15, 1972 a live recording from Sohgetsu Hall in Tokyo that got the official treatment as their debut. Following August 1974 the band would break ties, with most of the younger members dropping away from the scene and violinist Takehisa Kosugi continuing his journeys through experimental circles, even winding up with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company as musical director for a while. The spectral howl of the band’s heavy hitter rears its head as an influence in psychedelic circles to this day, so its great to have this back in an official capacity on the table. Highly recommended for fans from Ash Ra to Acid Mother’s and everything in between.




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V/A – Electroconvulsive Therapy Volume 4: The Art Of Survival

Still sifting through the dust of Record Store Day for the worthwhile bits that inevitably get stranded and trampled underfoot. This compilation from Medical Records that rounds up singles from UK minimal synth label Survival Records is just such a gem. This is the label’s third collection of older Survival material, but they’re still uncovering some propulsive, twisted tunes from a time when offbeat electronica was relegated to underground club nights and sifting through mail order addresses was the only way to slot a few of these onto your shelf. The collection’s notable for highlighting Survival’s disco fallout paired with scotch-taped synth-pop for crossovers that are equally as danceable as they are stuck in the pre-Devo dominance, post Heldon prog-punk hybrid pocket.

The dichotomy is evident on excellent b-sides from The Limit, whose “OK Go” and “Do It” pack both spacey atmospherics and hard-edged funk breakdowns. This collection also highlights a few tracks from Richard Bone, a soundtrack composer moonlighting as a synthpop overlord who wound up being regarded as a founder of the NYC electronic boom in his time. The label also gave new life to Bone’s Brave Tales as part of RSD, a treasure in its own right. The comp probably isn’t tops on the list of essential rundowns wrapping up this type of sound, but for collectors of Survival or general synth-pop archival explorers, this is a worthwhile pickup for sure.




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End of Data – Sahrah

B.F.E. recs digs out another synth gem, this time from French slingers End of Data. Their first album is fairly compact but packs a pretty great punch despite its brevity. The band shared members with the similarly fawned over Charles De Goal but skewed even more frantic than that unit’s mash of synth and post-punk boasted. The record is anchored by the fevered track “If I’m Not A Killer,” a cyber punk dash through enough dystopian tropes that it feels like it had to have popped up on the Hackers soundtrack at some point. The rest of the album revels in Kraftwerk washes and shades of Ultravox!, Tubeway Army and other similarly minded techno-pop heads.

The original found its way to market via Divine Records, home to other edge of reality acts like Tuxedomoon and Fra Lippo Lippi, and the band would follow on their debut with the more expansive Dans Votre Monde a year later. A planned third alubm would never materialize and the band would wind their way into the collector’s corner until an uptick of interest around blogs made it a name among cold wave freaks. It stands as a highlight of the cold wave genre and B.F.E. gives it a worthy place among the stacks again.




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