Browsing Category Reissues

Goblin – Profondo Rosso

Waxworks continues their expansive exploration of the scores to Dario Argento films. The last one to appear here was the Tenebrae soundtrack, produced as Goblin shifted from a 4-piece down to a 3-piece. Now it’s back to where the collaborations all began, with Argento and Goblin first working together on 1975’s Profondo Rosso (Deep Red). The Italian horror-thriller was the first to get a heaping helping of progressive psych and jazz work from Goblin and it still stands among their best collaborations with the composer. The score is littered with creeping menace and that odd twist of funk that gives Goblin their hook. They don’t go in for simply working through synth sweeps, Goblin’s charm lies in the hard-knuckled nature of their scores and an ability to keep things constantly in motion. The company has given this the most complete treatment to date, expanding the collection out to a 3xLP in triple gatefold.

What’s been most striking about the Waxworks editions is not only the expanded music but the extensive design, making the soundtracks more art pieces than merely musical accompaniment. Standing alongside editions from Mondo and Death Waltz, the new class of horror soundtracks are becoming curios for ardent collectors. Aside from the essential pickups of Profondo Rosso and Tenebrae in this series, the label has also put forth editions of the Phenomoena score, which while not a Goblin vehicle is worth checking into and boasts the first instance of the film’s completed score on LP. Plus, the artwork on this may be the best of the bunch.

Rounding out the collection is the score to Inferno, which moved away from Argento’s work with Goblin, but kept things in the prog family, partnering instead with ELP’s Keith Emerson. Again, this is wrapped up in deluxe packaging and limited color vinyl. If you’ve been exploring the deep bench of horror soundtracks, these three are a good start outside of your normal Carpenter canon.




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Velvet Crush – In The Presence of Greatness

There just aren’t that many classic power pop tales that begin with, “straight outta Rhode Island,” but the clam neck state offered up Velvet Crush in 1989 and they’d work their way into one of the decade’s oft overlooked gems. To be fair the band actually got it together in Southern Illinois college towns, where the band’s Paul Chastain was helping care out a sound running the Picture Book label. The band picked up roots and headed to Providence, but nabbed some help from friend and fellow power-pop impresario Matthew Sweet. Sweet would record In The Presence of Greatness as well as play guitar on the LP. The band share’s a considerable crossover with his love of The Raspberries and Big Star, showcasing a similar love for the jangled, classic version of the genre on their debut.

The album gained some traction in college rock circles but wound up making the most impression oversees, where the band would wind up distributed by Creation. Problem there was in 1989 Creation was moving from jangles to shoegaze and while the band might have fit in with a longview of the label, at the time they were passé for a lot of British fans. Be that as it may, the record is a solid sender of jangle-pop, power pop and college rock. Its incredibly indebted to the old guard of power pop that preceded it by a decade, but they’re pulling it off as good as most.

The band would go on to get further attention around their sophomore LP, Teenage Symphonies To God, produced by ‘90s studio savant Mitch Easter (R.E.M., The dB’s), but the band would wind up stretching a bit outside of their comfort zone. The debut is a great genre dig for those who love the crossover of power pop and Creation. While maybe not the most essential of either of those camps, it’s a great curio from the era that was left to linger for far too long.



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Catherine Ribeiro + Alpes – Box Set

Anthology is going above and beyond with a massive reissue of early ’70s albums from French progressive artist Catherine Ribeiro. The singular vocalist had an uncompromising vision of psychedelic folk that saw her progress over this three album arc from baroque, yet semi-grounded folk to a wildly experimental set that would send most Krautrock heads spinning. The artist began her trajectory on film, appearing in Spaghetti Westerns and, notably, netting a part in Jean Luc Godard’s Les Carabiniers. Acting put her in contact with creatives that started her down a musical path and by 1969 she was carving out a space with the help of Patrice Moullet, who backed her first record with his band 2Bis. By the time her follow up rolls around the band had morphed to become Les Alpes, and thus began this period of fruitful collaboration.

Ribeiro’s voice is truly the star of her albums, strong and unyielding, its a true force of nature. She’s often been compared to Brigitte Fontaine and shares similarities with Nico and Buffy St. Marie. Her work over the course of N°2, Ame Debout, and Paix wound darker and more complex with each year. N°2 is mostly just Moullet and Denis Cohen (percussion, organ) backing her up. With each ablum, as they gain confidence in their vision, Les Alpes begins to take on bigger and more varied forms, though. Ame Debout picks up some motorik steam, locking rhythms to anguished violin and wild flights of ambient sound. The band gets more of a role here, even taking on a couple of instrumental tracks that aren’t dominated by Ribeiro’s powerful sway. The album is the most in flux, shedding Ribeiro’s beginnings, but not fully in command of what would come next.

By the time the band rolls into ’73’s Paix they’ve left the normal constraints of folk behind, working into 15 minute lengths and pushing the idea of song further from the digestible single than ever before. Paix is truly the band’s Zenith, tough its remarkable to see how they built towards this exploratory sound over the past two albums. As a box set the trio works to dissect how Ribeiro and Moullet worked off of one another and pushed each other to get outside of the mindset of French pop music entirely. If you have the time for the deep dive, then all three are worth a visit, but if you must cut to the core, Paix is where Ribeiro makes her mark for the ages. This is an excellent collection of an artist truly deserving of a retrospective.



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The Wolfhounds – Hands In The Till

As with many, I might imagine, my introduction to The Wolfhounds came at the hand of the C86 compilation. Though the comp is rather cohesive in its rounding up of the UK janglepop picture at the time there are a few outliers that stick out simply because they’re not as gentle as the majority of the fodder on the fabled collection. Chief among these aberrations are Half Man Half Biscuit, The Shrubs and The Wolfhounds. The latter actually lands close to the scope of many of the band’s but there’s a danger present in their sound that begs closer inspection. The band followed their excellent ’86 material with the biting “Anti-Midas Touch” EP starting off a noise-pop journey that’s still going.

As could only be expected of a quality UK band, they were participants in John Peel Sessions, leaving behind four sessions worth of incredible performances that sound surprisingly smooth all lined up. Given that the band was torn apart and reformed a few times over the span of the sessions, that’s no small feat. The comp covers a lot of ground and is notable for stringing together quite a bit of non-album singles material, touching on cuts from the Me, Cruelty, and Happy Shopper 7″s. The band have always remained admirable for swaying from the easy road, they’d captured their jangly beginnings in Unseen Ripples from a Pebble and the subsequent singles but turned around and drove the noise to the forefront with Blown Away, which likely dropped a few fair weather fans. This comp, sitting in the context of their excellent catalog proves that, like their peers in The Fall, McCarthy and The Wedding Present, they were an essential band carving out their own unique take on England’s rose. This is an excellent primer for the unfamiliar and an essential pickup for the ardent fan.



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Cosmic Invention – Help Your Satori Mind

There are long simmering reissues that have been achingly in need of a new day, obvious and picked over – the kind that require a contract negotiation to will into existence. Then, there are those that were just bubbling below the surface, ones which should have been obvious, but for some reason or another eluded the mind. The news that Cosmic Invention’s sole album was getting the vinyl treatment fell squarely in this second camp. While Ghost’s early catalog still remains elusively and tantalizingly out of print, this Masaki Batoh side project is given a well-deserved second life through Drag City. The band featured a stunning lineup of musicians, one which would be enviable in any Japanese Psych band before or after. The ranks included Michio Kurihara (White Heaven, The Stars), Chiyo Kamekawa (Fushitsusha, Yura Yura Teikoku), and Okano Futoshi (Acid Mothers Temple, The Silence) among others who have orbited Batoh’s works since.

Landing just a year after Ghost’s haunting psych-folk opus Lama Rabi Rabi, the record stands in stark contrast to that album’s dark restraint. It’s the beginning of a heavier sound for Ghost, played out as a standalone record hinged on molten solos and spectral noise. The band moves from AMT-styled barn burners to electric Miles freeforms with ease, proving that the assembled players were all hitting a seasoned prime during their time in Cosmic Invention. The record found its way out on the experimental label The Now Sound which issued previous records from Batoh and White Heaven along with the similarly Batoh affiliated Sweet & Honey.

While all the members here add to the psychedelic fortitude of the album, the record is really the outcome of opposing forces in Bathoh and Kurihara’s style. Batoh brings his well of haunted tenderness and Kurihara sets it all on fire with a heavy hand on the strings. What springs between those poles, however, is an album of darkness and light that’s rarely been matched. For fans of ‘90s Japanese Psych, this is a pickup on par with anything from the PSF archives and Drag City has done a nice job of it, even adding in a bonus cut. Though, for the life of me I can’t imagine why they redesigned the cover to look like a live bootleg but let’s not pick at small details. It’s a completely essential and utterly devastating record and it should find a place on your shelf as soon as possible.



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Popera Cosmic – Les Esclaves

Finders Keepers have never shied away from prog or concept albums before, but they’ve netted themselves something of a big fish in terms of psychedelic classics here. Popera Cosmic was a landmark album that helped shape the French psychedelic direction that would follow – from Serge Gainsbourg through on to Jean Rollin, Gong and Magma, this stands as the germ that began many musicians’ journeys. The record is headed by songwriter Francois Wertheimer, who would go on to write for Vangelis and was a fixture at BYG records. He paired up with Jodorowsky collaborator Guy Skornik and the two based the record on a concept from a young Jean Michel-Jarre.

As for the record itself, its up there with the most outre psychedelic pieces. The album was inspired by French street theater in its narrative and sweeps through styles from blistering psych freakouts to barroom sing-a-long and lush orchestral folk with string arrangements courtesy of William Sheller and Paul Piot. Further support comes from the rhythm section from French prog legends Alice, who keep the record clicking through its stylistic changes flawlessly and add a dose of heaviness on the psych-stompers.

The record was instantly deleted at the time of its release and lay as a collector’s totem until now, so it seems high time this was available on a wider basis. Beyond fans of the French psychedelia this would influence, those who have been in thrall of The Holy Mountain, SF Sorrow or Head can feel free to dig in. Or, if you wish there existed a mash of Gong’s Flying Teapot, Les Mis on a heavy head of DMT and Haphash and the Coloured Coat, look no further.



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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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