In his recent psychoanalytical ‘Retromania’ tome, the very much admired and noted music writer/critic Simon Reynolds discusses our modern preoccupation with all things ‘nostalgic’. His apotheosis remains gloomy and for the most point spot-on, as the music industry increasingly falls back on its past achievements and glories; forever stuck in a cycle of re-releases and relentless…reissues.
Labels such as the spiritual jazz aficionado Jazzman, and ethnographical music archeologists Analog Africa, Soundway. Honest Jon and Finders Keepers (to name but a just a few) do at least search out and bring to a wider audience, previously unavailable or rare recordings. And the number one spot in this list is held by a band whose material has been locked away from sight and sound for nigh-on 40 years.
However, the main focus is still on reviving the 60s – an era that just keeps giving. Hot on the tails of the halcyon baby boomer zenith, the 70s, right through to the 90s, epochs are constantly revised and reevaluated too, as labels struggle to find a new cash cow, the most popular artists already deluxe-d to the point of insanity.
Let’s not despair – even if those old releases are selling more than new ones. And instead celebrate some of the years more finer examples.
Click on the accompanying LP’s image for a full review.
10. Small Faces ‘The Deluxe Editions’ (Sanctuary/ Universal)
“The deluxe set is a difficult proposition, in that it chronicles the full story, warts-and-all, through interviews and countless memorabilia, putting each LP and song in its historical context and surroundings, enveloped in a sumptuous package; yet it fails to offer anything refreshing or new to the connoisseur and collector – there’s hardly any tracks included that haven’t seen the light of day in one way or another. Instead, if you find yourself needing a handy overview and survey of the band, or are missing certain tracks, then this is a definitive enough addition to the collection; especially if the price is right.” Dominic Valvona
9. Paul Simon ‘Graceland: 25th Anniversary’
This one may have evaded review by our own writing team on GIITTV, but it still makes the list.
Only the sanctimonious would pour scorn on Paul Simon’s South African imbued classic. Out of sorts with his contemporaries and adrift of his most famous partnership with Art Garfunkel, Simon made one of the oddest – on paper –decisions. Heavily criticized at the time for recording in apartheid South Africa, Simon nevertheless pulled off one of music’s greatest comebacks and coups, creating an inspiration hybrid of lush African hushed lullabies, highlife, faux-Afrobeat, and Western folk, with the help of the mbube acolytes, Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
This was a mega seller at the time, and why not when the quality didn’t let up, from the opening ‘Boy In The Bubble’ and ‘Graceland’ to such fine hymn like plaintive cries as ‘Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes’ and ‘Homeless’.
The 25th anniversary suite doesn’t exactly offer a bounty of unearthed or lain dormant material, but does feature the insightful Under African Skies documentary for the first time.
8. Various Artists ‘Spiritual Jazz Volume 2: Europe’ (Jazzman)
“Fast becoming one of my favourite labels, London-based Jazzman Records continues with its erudite release schedule of both contemporary, and apodictic revelatory jazz from across the last five decades. The second concomitant volume in their spiritual series is a full purview of “post-Coltrane” European jazz – a sort of serious jazz collectors Eurovision, with examples from across the whole continent.
This 11-track survey (lavishly presented on both vinyl and CD) documents the old world’s break from the American scene, and its foundation of a progressive-polyglot European style. Gothic Wagnerian choirs, esoteric ethereal atmospherics, Balkan melodrama and Espanola flair are all adopted within the undemaricated avant-garde jazz sound that stirs the soul and evokes venerable imaginative thoughts.” DV
7. Various Artists ‘Jukebox Mambo’ (Jazzman)
“From the opening salacious, limbering, bars of Joe Lutcher’s spanking ‘Ojai’ you enter into the sweaty, devilish Jukebox Mambo spirit.
This raucous, and constantly carnal, compilation is the perfect soundtrack for illicit cellar bars, honky tonk joints and the sort of clubs you’re always warned not to enter! You know, the type of places where you can dance the coitus rituals of mambo till dawn and get your cocktail kicked over by the cornet player as he leaps up onto the bar with unreserved boundless energy and joy.
The listener then, is tempestuously invited to bare witness to the alluring mix of “dynamite R&B” and Afro-Cuban/Latin rhythms. A dynamic sensual sound prevalent during the 50s that brought Hispanic and Black cultures into contact with each other to form a most infectious, slinky, dance style of music.” DV
6. The Jam ‘The Gift And Beyond…’ (Universal)
“Of all the re-issue and re-packaged releases that regularly pass through my hands, The Gift Super Deluxe is among the most worthy. A timely reminder and celebration, even if nostalgic, this marvelous box set demonstrates that why Weller may have been correct to call it a night, he’s never quite captured or bettered it.” DV
5. Roxy Music ‘The Complete Studio Recordings 1972 – 1982’ (EMI)
“Well, where do you start? Roxy Music stand as one of the most original, innovative and inspirational bands of the post-Beatles era. When punk’s scorched earth policy (or, at least gave the impression of having such a thing) rendered much of music pre-1976 obsolete, Roxy Music were permitted to remain. After all, a very early lineup of the Sex Pistols were called The Strand, and it was at a Roxy gig that the future Siouxsie Sioux and Steve Severin met. Other acts who have hailed them as an inspiration include acts as diverse as Madness, Morrissey, Kate Bush and Jarvis Cocker.” Ed Jupp
4. Various Artists ‘Diablo Del Ritmos: The Colombian Melting Pot 1960 – 1985’ (Analog Africa)
“Perfectly encased within the usual beatific designed artwork (which in my opinion always looks and sounds better on vinyl), ‘Diablos Del Ritmo’ is a warm perspicacious travail through twenty-five years of omnivorous-fuelled enjoyment; and an alacrity congruous enjoyment at that, as the tropical native styles of Colombia rub-up against Afrobeat and Highlife to produce a unique dance hybrid. Into this, already, simmering pot of rhythms you can throw some Cuban and Caribbean influences, just to add a bit more allure and swinging salacious Latin sway to the mix.” DV
3. Velvet Underground & Nico (Universal)
“The Velvets Super Deluxe version CD is a collection of 6 CDs to celebrate the 45th Anniversary of the 1967 album, The Velvet Underground and Nico. When Lou Reed and John Cale came together to create this experimental and improvisational style of performing and recording, they were unaware they were about to make such a pioneering impact on music. What started out as beat style poetry amidst a gentle rhythm, of droning’s, hums, ostrich style guitaring and experimental loops, began to etch out the foundations for the future Velvet Underground.” Sam Chamberlaine
2. David Sylvian ‘A Victim Of Stars: 1982 – 2012’ (Virgin/ EMI)
“Like the younger sibling to his distinguished artistic brothers, David Sylvian donned the hand-me-down vestures passed down to him from the creative triumvirate of David Bowie, Scott Walker and Bryan Ferry. A voice trembling with the imbued influence of this reverent trio, Sylvain’s own distinctive plaintive pleas sailed between those pioneering crooners blueprint tones, before relaxing into its own emotively slick dilatoriness style. Over the last thirty years these vocals have fluctuated and pliably bent to fit various musical verandas, and experimental excursions; with varying degrees of success, both critically and, occasionally, commercially – though never at the expense of innovation.
Still, perhaps, better known for his days at the helm of orient sthenic Japan, his own endeavors surreptitiously blended into the general morbid, and heroically, melancholic background. Prolonged, indolent, and highly visceral, his solo work ventured beyond the confines of Japan’s awkward angular romanticism and broody synth-noir, to tap into high-class jazz, esoteric orchestral expressionism, and funk.” DV
1. Can ‘The Lost Tapes’ (Mute)
“Reinforcing the Can legacy and myth, The Lost Tapes is a genuine rare artifact that sounds as fresh now as it did over forty years ago – either Can were not just ahead but light-years into the future of nearly everyone else, or a sad indictment on the last four decades of music that shows we haven’t been able to surpass or build-upon their original template. This superbly collated 30-track overview of unreleased musical nectar may have taken a long time to emerge from the bunker, but it’s been worth it, the imbued revelations pulled from the mists of time, proving to be more than anyone could have hoped for.” DV