Ok, this is really the last of our 2010 reviews. Anchoring this column is Keith, who’s listened to more reissues this year than Brian and me combined, putting us to great shame. Enjoy the list, and have an awesome year ahead!
Antena – Camino del Sol (Numero)
I suppose we could possibly populate this list with plenty of the other fascinating releases from the Numero label, and French trio Antena’s 1982 debut album is one of our favorite things. The fleet and exquisite jazz pop of Camino del Sol was well ahead of its time and you can hear their influence particularly on the balearic sounds of bands such as Air France and jj. – Keith.
Black Tambourine – Black Tambourine (Slumberland)
The scruffy indie pop of Black Tambourine still sounds as raucous and refreshing as ever, with popular groups such as The Pains of Being Young At Heart and Dum Dum Girls trying to recapture Pam Berry and her band mates’ dreamy charms. Their music is resurrected once again in a new Slumberland edition that presents the band’s spontaneity and lo-fi brilliance in greater scope, beefed up this time with several previously unreleased tracks. – Keith.
The Cure – Disintegration (Rhino)
Exaggerated nostalgia perhaps, but a whole generation of crepuscular souls hid in their bedrooms and mope along to the sweeping atmospheric pop songs of Disintegration, the 1989 Cure masterpiece birthed during a time of incertitude when Robert Smith was apparently disgruntled with commercial success. Rhino’s lavish three-CD repackaging, which also includes relevant outtakes and live recordings (of each track), is the best way to revisit Disintegration in all its monolithic magnificence – dark places haunted by nocturnal spiders and a bad fog of loneliness. – Keith.
mp3: The Cure – Plainsong
David Bowie – Station to Station (Virgin)
Famously, David Bowie was so fucked up on cocaine that he later could not recall making Station to Station. This visionary 1976 album – Bowie’s best, in my humble opinion – was his full-throttle attempt at turning rock mythology on its head for poetic effect, a work of flash delirium that anticipates the Krautrock-infused sound he would forge in Berlin with Brian Eno on Low (1977). The ambered haze and rippling futuristic soundscapes on Station to Station still sound absolutely phenomenal today, the Thin White Duke’s gloomy grandeur having lost none of its power to astound. – Keith.
Destroyer – Streethawk: A Seduction (Merge)
Speaking of which, there has always been hints of David Bowie’s glam-pop influence on Destroyer records. 2001’s Streethawk: A Seduction remains the pinnacle of Dan Bejar’s tuneful songwriting and wordy idiosyncrasies, and this 2010 Merge reissue nicely whets our appetite for this year’s January release of Kaputt. – Keith.
Galaxie 500 – This Is Our Music/Copenhagen (Domino)
All it took was three albums for the Boston trio to make their indelible mark on music history. This Is Our Music (1991) was to be their last, and in this reissue, finds itself paired with Copenhagen, a recording of their final concert. At the encore, the band perform songs by their evident heroes: the Velvets’ “Here She Comes Now” and Jonathan Richman’s “Don’t Let Our Youth Go To Waste”. The latter, one of the most career-defining of their covers, couldn’t be a more fitting swansong. – Dan.
Jane Birkin/Serge Gainsbourg – Jane Birkin/Serge Gainsbourg (Light in the Attic)
Light in the Attic follows up its 2009 US reissue of Serge Gainsbourg’s seminal 1971 concept album Histoire de Melody Nelson with the release of another his classics in Jane Birkin/Serge Gainsbourg (1969). The paraphernalia of decadence served up in this first whirlwind collaboration between Serge and a then fresh-faced Birkin is potent as ever – not surprising when you consider the shock value of “Je T’Aime… Moi Non Plus”, and the smoldering pop provocation of “69 Année Érotique”. – Keith.
Robert Wyatt – Rock Bottom (Domino)
Domino Records’ extensive reissue of Robert Wyatt’s solo works is a real godsend, allowing us to get reacquainted with his surrealist-influenced pop music full of sonic invention and genuine mystery. The precipitous Rock Bottom, the 1974 album recorded after Wyatt had suffered the accident that left him permanently confined to a wheelchair, is the best place to start, the surreal wonders of this deeply personal six-song cycle freighted with both loss and renewal. – Keith.
The Rolling Stones – Exile on Main St. (Polydor)
This was actually my first time listening to this record, and in spite of what I’ve read before, I just couldn’t imagine the Stones having this much blues and soul in their rock and roll, not to mention gospel or even country. The context of the album’s production, in all its tumultous decadence, is probably helpful but not essential for listening: whether you’ve been following the Stones’ for the past half a century or you’re a new convert like myself, this is an equally rewarding trip in all its swaggering brilliance.– Dan.
Tom Zé – Studies of Tom Zé: Explaining Things So I Can Confuse You (Luaka Bop)
It seems impossible to properly recapitulate Tom Ze’s manic career trajectory, and we won’t attempt to do so here. Instead, we would rejoice in the release of this lovingly compiled 3-LP box set that successfully compresses the many dimensions of a man who has been such a pervasive influence on Brazilian countercultural pop music. – Keith.