Browsing Category Reissues

Redd Kross – Phaseshifter / Show World

It’s not entirely at odds that Third Man — a label that has existed to showcase the works of Jack White, bring home to the power pop of Brendan Benson, and explore the underground to the degree that Timmy’s Organism once found its way onto the racks — should eventually bring back the work of Redd Kross. While the name doesn’t filter into fashion as much as it should these days, the band was instrumental in smashing together punk, metal and power pop into a nexus of grunge that would linger long into the DNA of radio hits that would eclipse the band several times over. Redd Kross’ sense of humor was only rivaled by their knack for pop and over the course of a long and rocky tenure they created some true classic records. Growing out of the L.A. punk scene when they were still in high school, the band’s McDonald brothers would play with members of Circle Jerks, Bad Religion, and Black Flag before settling into their early lineup and smashing boundaries with their debut EP and the elastic approach of Neurotica. Sadly the latter was stalled in its reach when their label, Big Time, folded. The setback held the band’s name in contract to a grounded business and the band spent the next five years in limbo recording psych-pop under various names with members of Three O’ Clock, Pat Smear. Cherrie Currie, and Danny Bonnaduce (though not all at the same time).

The Third Man reissues focus on the time period just following this relative upset. The band would gain control of the name and reset themselves as they signed to Mercury. They stripped back a bit of the eclecticism that had made their early work fun and focused on the heavier side of their sound for Phaseshifter. While longtime fans might have missed the paisley pop experiments, what made them infectious remained in tact. Power pop stood at the crux of their sound and they’d embraced the hardcore heat long before others around them would do the same to find a foothold at radio. This album should have been a hitmaker, yet it found them relatively settled into the middle of the pack in popularity. The follow-up Show World takes the a similar approach, but gives a bit more of a glimpse into their magnetic pull towards plastic fun.

The album starts with a thickened and throttled cover of The Quick, embracing the light-delivery, heavy guitars approach to power pop that made it potent towards the end of the ‘70s. The band oscillates between the thick pop pedigree that fellow undersung act Sloan was soaking up around the same time in ’97 with a shiny new batch of hooks ready for radio. Still the band never quite stuck the way they should, but a few good years on Merge seemed a better fit and this latest round of respect for their mid-period work gives folks the hindsight to get back into what they missed. Definitely worth a spin or three to brighten up the turntable these days as the originals were released during the prime CD-only years and they never got a US release on vinyl. Pick ‘em up and work your way through the catalog of the champions of pop that shoulda been.




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Relatively Clean Rivers – S/T

While this is a low-key reissue in terms of fanfare, repressing a 2013 version of the latest iteration on Phoenix, having Relatively Clean Rivers back in print is always essential and a notable occasion in its own right. Now the squeamish politics of reissue labels apply here. This in itself is an unofficial reissue, so take that in mind when looking at purchasing. I, myself, picked up a version of this record in 2004 on the shady as ever Radioactive label before knowing too much about them. While I’d rather that the money benefitted all parties involved, this is an impossible grail to find otherwise, with originals topping out around 900-1K. The record was originally issued by bandleader/songwriter Phil Pearlman in 1975, self-released under the Pacific Is label. Pearlman had spent the ‘60s working with outre-leaning units like Beat of the Earth, though he’d gotten his start back in ’64 in a much less psychedelic capacity with Phil & The Flakes. Beat of the Earth’s originals will break the wallet just as hard as a copy of RCR and also suffer from a bounty of unofficial reissues. Built on a much looser thread of psychedelic float, the Beat records pushed into extended jams that put them squarely between the East Coast gnarl of VU and the West Coast sunshine of The Dead. Out of this Pearlman leaned toward the latter, whittling the jam element and embracing a faded psych-folk that would birth his masterpiece.

The band is a kind of talisman for the resurgence of psychedelic folk that’s exploded post-2000 and the strains of Relatively Clean Rivers can be heard seeping into everyone from MV&EE, Woods, and Rose City Band to Damian Jurado and Richard Swift, who covered it Phil on a 2016 compilation. The record is lived-in and rumpled in the best ways — swapping between softly rolling folk and psychedelic embellishments like flute, synth, recorder and backwards guitar passages. Most private-press grails get held up in status simply because of their scarcity. Ownership is more of a boast filling the shelf than a need to have it on the turntable. However, Pearlman’s songs are of the highest order, which makes this one’s intermittent scarcity and questionable reappearance all the more vital. Its a record of incredible quality and should have been a mainstay alongside the West Coast psych classics from GD to CSN. Sadly I think that Phoenix operates on the same principles at Radioactive (and may indeed be tied to the former owners) so that means that its profiting off of the backs of artists. This music is vital, and essential. That much I can recommend. I’ll leave the link because copies are available from Forced, who should absolutely be supported and because the music of Pearlman should be available to all who need to hear it in troubled times.


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The Hangmans Beautiful Daughters

I’m always game for a retrospective that picks at corners of a scene I’ve overlooked. While pawing through plenty of the C86-era janglers, I must admit that I’ve largely missed out on the works of The Hangmans Beautiful Daughters. Maybe its that the name implies something less rooted in the fuzz-draped pop vein and instead dredges up English Folk overtones. Honestly that should have made me dig in more, not less. While bearing no relationship to or similarities with The Invisible String Band, the group instead takes another divergence from the bulk of the pack that surrounded them. Mentored and produced by The Television Personalities’ Dan Treacy, the group would release their early singles on his own Dreamworld Records and the TVP affiliated Constrictor label. Treacy wrote several songs himself and the band took them from the spare, jangles of his own oeuvre and added layers of thick fuzz, a garage grit, and the kind of lived in cool that radiated off of bands like The Seeds and Velvets before them.

They’d pick at the ‘60s garage canon as well, adding a cover of Shadows of Knights’ “Dark Side” to their pack of Treacy tunes before crafting their own voice. Once rolling the band’s Gordon Dawson and Emily Brown begin to anchor the group with a sound that splits between the jangling ends of The Byrds and the kind of culture that was being dug up by TVPs, Biff Bang Pow!, and early Primal Scream. Aside from the grinding leads, it’s Emily Brown’s vocals that give the band staying power. Her delivery is simultaneously engaging and bored. She’s a beacon that hardly has time for you, but the draw is there all the same. There are some standout female fronters from the period and place, but C86 tends to be a boys club in typical reminiscence about its prowess. The Hangmans Beautiful Daughters round out that narrative a bit. The new collection from Optic Nerve brings together a much needed overview of the band that hasn’t really been explored in detail since a singles comp from ’89 on Voxx. The set is fleshed out with great liner notes from Jowe Head of TVP and Gordon from the band. If, like me, you’ve missed out on the band prior, then this is an essential listen.



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White Heaven – Out

I wrote about this one a little while back, but it bears another mention since this is the first time that this essential LP has been readily available. White Heaven’s proper debut may stand as one of the greatest psychedelic records of the ‘90s and argument goes to push it well up the all time list as well. The record brought together a formidable collection of musicians, lead by the talents of You Ishihara and Michio Kurihara. The former would go on to form The Stars and the latter would helm Ghost, but while they were together for a short time, they stood at the epicenter of a Japanese psychedelic bloom that can still be fell flowering today. Later, the band would bring Shimura Koji (Mainliner, Acid Mothers Temple) into the fold, but here, even though they were just beginning, their sound had already begun to form the exploratory blues pyrotechnics that cemented them as a primordial force in Japanese rock.

Prior to this album, the band released a live tape that documented their early shows, but the studio lit the light of some fertile collaborations. Kurihara’s guitars singe and demur over the course of the album, especially the epic centerpiece “Mandrax Town.” Following this album both Michio and drummer Ken Ishihara exited, but this was a document of the band at their most vital and elemental. The band would finally call it quits around the release of 1997’s Levitation and Kurihara would take Ghost on to be one of the premiere exports from the scene, but this moment of inception and incubation proves where much of his sound got its start. Black Editions has restored this LP to its proper position as a centerpiece in any psychedelic bin. Necessary by all measures.



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Bardo Pond – Adrop / Circuit VIII

Oof, almost too late with this one, despite the LP having been released just last Friday, but there’s still time as long as good outlets hold out. Pretty sure if you’re landing on the shores of Raven Sings the Blues that familiarity with Bardo Pond is a given, but I’m not one for assumptions. Philadelphia’s reigning noise wranglers have fallen under many banners from psych to space to noise and experimental – each assessment is 100% correct and can’t be divorced from the other. The band is a force of nature and that force is on full display over this two-record reissue of their ‘06/’08 releases for Three Lobed — Adrop and Circuit VIII. Both records were part of CD series that the label put together in these respective years. Adrop was only available as part of the “Modern Containment” collection that included Hush Arbors, Kinski, Mirror/Dash, Mouthus, Sun City Girls, Sunburned Hand of the Man, MV & EE with the Bummer Road, and Wooden Wand and the Omen Bones Band. I believe it was that last one that brought me into the TRL awareness in the first place, but the set also opened up a world of post-Matador Bardo Pond to me that was more sinister and more visceral than they’d ever been on the mini-major.

Adrop works in movements and they push a cloud of static through the heart of a dying sun. The record saws at the consciousness and proves that the Pond is not an average psych band by any means, defying any usual metrics at the time. The following set, Circuit VIII is equally scorched and unsettled, having found its way into the label’s next series “Oscillations III.” This series found them alongside fellow travelers Bark Haze, Tom Carter, GHQ, Howlin’ Rain, Magik Markers, The Michael Flower Band, Lee Ranaldo, Vanishing Voice, and Jack Rose. Eschewing movements, but operating in much the same way as Adrop, Circuit VIII is one longform piece that travels from deep, volcanic growls to tender acoustic tears. It’s a record that, much like its predecessor, defies convention or categorization, but as any Bardo collector might surmise, also elevates the form of mining cosmic vibrations beyond what many of their peers were doing at the time. Side note: that “Oscillations III” box contains one of the very earliest Robert Beatty covers and is worth nabbing a CD copy for this as well. Nice to see the label pack these two back together and set them aloft on vinyl as well. Both of these CD series were pretty formative in terms of how RSTB came about, so its got a special place in my heart.




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Happy End – Happy End

Its been a long time coming, but many of the essential Japanese albums from the psychedelic era are now coming back to the reissue circuit. While most were represented in the CD-heavy aughts boom, the trickle back to vinyl has been slow for some, and even then it’s been limited to imports in many cases. With the reissue of the Hosono catalog through Light in the Attic, the artist’s other pre-Yellow Magic Orchestra work is now creeping out from the corners. Last year Survival Research reissued Hosono’s early band Apryl Fool, a band that would stand at the beginning of his journey into the modern musical heart, and now they’re continuing with the band he skipped onto next, Happy End. While the band’s sophomore LP is probably the most widely known, their debut hardly anything to dismiss offhand. Alongside Eiichi Ohtaki, Shigeru Suzuki, and Takashi Matsumoto, the latter also of Apryl Fool, they began move away from the blues that held sway of the Fool and into the strains of country rock, folk and lightly flecked psychedelia that would prove pervasive in their American counterparts. The difference here is that the band made the insistence on keeping the lyrics in their native Japanese, possibly alienating Western audiences at the time, but endearing them to their local crowds.

While it seems only natural that Japanese bands might sing in Japanese, at the time the Western influence was so strong that it was seen as almost a given that English language was the only path to prominence. This led to the Nihongo Rokku Ronsō or Japanese Language Controversy, a debate that the success of this album and the subsequent Kazemachi Roman helped to settle. It’s easy to see how this album catapulted the band to success — with a combination of soulful songwriting, adept musicianship that easily incorporates and melds their various genres, and hooks that should have transcended any language barrier — the only true curiosity is that the album didn’t crossover beyond their country’s bounds at the time. There are elements of CSNY, Moby Grape, and Quicksilver Messenger Service at play, especially in the three-part harmonies working their way through the folk forms, but the leads on Happy End tend to push further than most US/UK bands ever let themselves wander. In every sense this is a killer album that outstrips similar fodder that ruled international charts at the time. Very glad to see this back in print and hoping that this is the beginning of a run of the rest of Happy End’s catalog for US audiences.



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Tapiman – S/T

Always good to see some of the crucial reissues I picked up 15-20 years ago making a new round for those that still can’t find those originals anywhere below scandalous prices. This ’72 LP from Spanish trio Tapiman is one of those rediscoveries from the early ‘00s that still resonates today. Lit on the savage burn of guitar by Max Sunyer, the album trades heavy, powerful riffing (that woulda made the Sabbath crowd proud) with nimble prog touches pushing the album beyond mere proto metal curio. Pinned to a rhythm section that keeps Sunyer’s guitars from floating into the bilious clouds of smoke, the band’s songs were a masterclass in heavy-bottomed yet smart runs.

They fill the second half out with spaced organ and and a stab at Thin Lizzy frizzle meets post-Canturbury noodling from later period Soft Machine. As a whole, the record rounds itself out to embrace a wider palette than the average thunder cruncher from the time period. The band could embrace softness, power, and prog flights of fantasy. The Spanish scene often gets shorted at the time, but this along with Truck and Storm always feel like lost classics to me. Plus, that cover is a damned selling point if you ask me. The pink skull is definitely one of the reasons it founds its way into my hands in the first place. New issue has expanded liners and pics.



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Kedama – The Complete Collection

Castleface jumps into the reissue game with a damn treasure-trove of music from Swiss-German prog vets Kedama. They issue their ‘live in the studio” record, the aptly titled Live At Sunrise Studios alongside a wealth of material that never made it to wax. The debut was released in ’76, originally on the Sunrise label, which would notably release early recordings by Kleenex just a couple of years later. The debut was, rather admirably, recorded live in the studio with a binaural microphone and the band passed between different instruments in silence in an attempt to flesh out the record to a huge sound. The technique at the time was always a bit of a gimmick that only really takes shape in headphones (don’t tell Lou Reed), but having pulled it off as long takes its an impressive move.

The multi-movement “Finale” sees the band work their way from dense, smoke-thick riffs to concert-hall piano workouts. They find footing in the rhythm-heavy progressive textures that would befit their German roots coupled with a guitar flash and willingness to add technical piano in an era when most of their peers were leaning into early synth work (there are synths though as well). They up the stakes on this 3xLP set with the addition of live and studio tracks that fall outside of the previously released LP, stretching as far back as ’72 and into the end of ’76. The extra material, while naturally less cohesive than the Sunrise cuts, show a band with a head for experimentation that should light the coals of any fan of Tangerine Dream, Gong (or Steve Hillage’s solo work for that matter), and Manuel Göttsching happy. Nice set from Castle Face and hoping that this leads to some more from the deep record shelves of Dwyer.



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East Village – Hotrod Hotel

Slumberland has been crushing it with the reissues lately, bringing back the lost singles of The Springfields, issuing a complete compendium of Wolfhounds John Peel sessions, and now they’re shining a light on East Village, another band worthy of adoration. The band got some light around here when James Hoare featured them in a Hidden Gems piece a few years back, and his recommendation still stands. The band, as proves too often the case, suffered from a series of setbacks that would derail them permanently. The band began under the name Episode 4 before swapping to East Village. Their sound touched on a strain of jangle-pop that was slightly out of form with the time, but they found contemporaries in bands like McCarthy, and even toured with House of Love for a bit. They’d released singles on the short-lived Sub Aqua label in 1988, but the label folded before they could finance a proper full-length.

This would lead to a string of labels that would pick up singles (Caff Corporation, Heavenly, Sumershine) before Heavenly would eventually put out their sole EP Drop Out in 1993. That same year they’d break up onstage at a London show, effectively ending their career just as it began to take off. The following year Summershine wrangled up many of those singles and b-sides for this compilation, Hotrod Hotel, only issuing it on CD. Now Slumberland has given the comp its due with a gorgeous new issue on LP with packed liners on the band. If they’ve managed to evade your ears for this whole time, this is a fine chance to add this one on the shelf next to yer Loft, Jasmine Minks, and Weather Prophets records.


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UT – In Gut’s House

The gaps in the No Wave nuggets have been closing in for the last couple of years with vital reissues from the likes of Maximum Joy and Kleenex among others. Though there’s been a definite deficit when it comes to contributions from NY trio UT. The band hung their sound on considerably less groove than many of their peers, perhaps finding a split ground between Au Pairs’ stark realities and the burgeoning noise-dirge deluge from Sonic Youth. The band leaned into atonal, scraping passages, but they landed them with an edge that drew blood and their influence could be felt reverberating through the tail of the ‘80s and into the more fraut threads of pre-grunge. Oddly the band didn’t find much of an audience in the States at the time of and would achieve a slightly wider audience and acceptance in the UK. They released a few recordings on their own Out Records before signing with Blast First for their debut.

The band picked up some heavy fans, though, including John Peel who recorded the band for a session and Steve Albini who would record the follow-up to In Gut’s House, Griller. This record acts as a vital transition period for the band, moving away from their earlier live recordings that had appeared on their Out tapes and on their Blast First debut. The album is a driven, unforgiving record that doesn’t lean into melody as a crutch. It opens with the rather infectious “Evangelist,” but the track works as a red herring as they’d almost never return to the sprightly bounce of that track and instead scrape the soul with a darker, leaner, tension-torqued set of metallic bile that’s as bracing as any record that hit the stands in ’88. It nabbed attention and praise from NME that year and picked up steam in The Village Voice, but in general the hometown crowd wasn’t biting on UT’s sound. They’d record the follow-up with Albini before disbanding shortly after. It’s high time that this one grabbed the praise its due as a vital link in the noise, post-punk and No Wave chains, drawing them all together for a record that still draws blood like it did the day it was released. Now, Out is looking to revitalize the band’s catalog for a new age and these recordings sound as fresh and ferocious as ever.



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