As much as we delight in the discovery of new music – look out for that roundup on Friday – the staggering amount of archival releases appearing on shelves is simply impossible to ignore.
Whether it’s neglected, forgotten or misunderstood material, there’s a fleet of reissue labels and tireless collectors rewriting the history books on a weekly basis. So it’s only fair to give reissues their own mid-term list.
We’ve worked though the stacks to pick ten of the best. With so much on offer, it wasn’t an easy task and as ever, we’ve had to leave out a few favourites to fit the brief. Some ground rules before we begin: included here are both compilations and retrospectives, as well as straight up reissues; and in choosing our ten we’ve spread ourselves across a broad range of genres and labels.
Some reissues live and die by their rarity, others by their quality and a select few just have both. Originally released in 1984, Tony Cary Project’s self-titled LP has bubbled away on wantlists for years, an oddball outlier on the Balearic scene that’s far more ambitious than the numerous cosmic disco reissues appearing at the moment. Musically, TCP is a album of spacious, kraut-ish grooves with a dab of Eastern flair that will speak to fans of YMO and the early ‘80s soundtrack scene, and testament to young Berlin label Disco Halal, who can’t put a foot wrong right now.
Space Echo: The mystery behind the cosmic sound of Cabo Verde finally revealed
An early contender for compilation of the year, Analog Africa have outdone themselves with this staggering collection of synthesized dance floor grooves and plaintive astral melodies from the island of Cape Verde. Like all great reissues the narrative is all important, the label spinning a yarn about a shipment of synths that went missing on the way to Rio in the late ‘60s only to wash up on the island’s shores, birthing a vibrant, intoxicating scene of synthetic disco. And like all great compilations, there’s a sense of discovery in every track, none of which sound like anything we’ve ever heard before.
Cooked up in the baking heat of California’s Topanga Canyon in 1982, Breadwoman is the salient stream of Anna Holmer’s deconstructed language, an imagined vernacular of her dough-masked alter-ego, kneaded into song form by producer Steve Moshier. And yet, while Breadwoman as concept is intoxicating enough – a heady coagulation of 1980s Los Angeles performance art, renegade DIY punk, gallery culture, galvanized jazz, underground cassette-trading culture, drag extravaganzas, and esoteric meaning-making mysticism – it is also a fascinating, emotive listen, comparable in its humanity to the great works of magical realism.
The man behind ‘Maggot Brain’, George Clinton’s right hand man and the six-stringed architect of the P-Funk sound, Eddie Hazel’s only solo album must go down as one of funk’s overlooked masterpieces. The chugging, serpentine rendition of ‘California Dreamin’’ is worth the entry fee alone, and while Hazel’s psychedelic finger picking on ‘Frantic Moment’ will be familiar to J Dilla fans, every track here is a virtuoso lesson in exultant, deep-seated groove. A bumper year for Be With so far too, with reissues for Andy Bey and Kylie (!) also worth a mention.
“The punk professor” and critic perhaps most famous for penning Bob Marley’s biography, Vivien Goldman’s career began on the other side of the fence, as a musician bridging London’s punk-dub movement with New York’s downtown scene. Resolutionary (Songs 1979–1982) captures her contribution to The Flying Lizards, her solo work on 99 Records, plus her releases as one half of Chantage with Afro-Parisian chanteuse Eve Blouin, produced in the most part by Adrian Sherwood, and later sampled by Madlib and The Roots. The goofy love-in-a-laundromat tale ‘Launderette’ has been a favourite of ours for ages and it’s testament to Goldman’s restless nature that her contribution to the scene she chronicled is being recognised again. Utterly original, engrossing music.
An album with its foundation in a minimal dub approach, fans of last year’s killer reissue of Utakata No Hibi will be visiting familiar territory here, not least because Japanese composer-saxophonist-producer Yasuaki Shimizu was the architect behind experimental band Mariah. Shimizu’s production can also be heard on Dip In The Pool, who were recently given a fresh 12″ reissue on Music From Memory. Originally released in 1982 on Better Days, Kakashi has been long out-of-print, fetching big sums on the second hand market; so understandably this long-awaited reissue flew off the the shelves. Here’s to another repress.
The Lines were a mysterious below-the-radar post punk group who made stunningly futuristic music that no-one ever heard. A cursory listen to this, their never completed third album suggests a band that has that Factory aesthetic couple with a kind of more electronic take on New York experimenters such as Liquid Liquid. Chillingly the opening ‘Flat Feet’ sounds like it could fit perfectly on Radiohead’s latest record. A fascinating artefact.
Here we have an example of Record Store Day done right: to coincide with their first tour and new material in 20 years, ‘90s shoegazers Lush lined up this stunning career-spanning box set. Spread across five colour vinyl records, the release collects their previous albums and EPs. With all of those original items either out-of-print or never previously available on vinyl, it’s is an absolutely essential reissue, and beautifully presented too.
Having previously treated us to the subaquatic voyage of Deepchord’s Lanterns and the messianic ambience of Wolfgang Voigt Live In London, Astral Industries excel themselves with a vinyl reissue of Chi’s masterful Original Recordings. The Dutch ensemble decamped to a farm in Moordrecht in 1985 and fully immersed themselves in a living, breathing collage of found sounds, electronic experiments and organic instrumentation. Dubby and psychedelic, the eight tracks on offer meander between the swampy exotica of Mike Cooper and the blissed out electronics of Cluster.
Stylotone launched as a new soundtrack label earlier this year with the first complete LP release of Bernard Hermann’s Twisted Nerve score. You’ll probably associate the whistling theme with Kill Bill – and indeed Quentin Tarantino – a big Herrmann fan – has penned the liner notes for this release. In fact Stylotone have pulled out all the stops: blood splattered vinyl, a film poster printed using the original 1960s process, an 7” single featuring pop and jazz versions of the main theme and a “certificate of authenticity” signed by the composer’s widow. Even without the extras, we’re delighted to add this to the collection.