Black Market Baby – Coulda… Shoulda… Woulda; The Black Market Baby Collection (Dr. Strange)
OK, back to CDs today, and all but the last two of these 10 are new recordings (or new issues of old recordings). It’s been great rediscovering how powerful this D.C. punk band was; along with MINOR THREAT and BAD BRAINS, they were part of the trio of truly remarkable, smoking hot bands, the greatest to ever come from our capital (all peaking circa 1980-1982, too). But whereas the other two, better-remembered bands were busy founding and perfecting hardcore-thrash, this ripping quartet was more a classic rock ‘n’ roll band in the SEX PISTOLS meets CHUCK BERRY mode; faster and more punishing, but filled with super hot classic guitar riffs, roaring attack, punishing drums, and BOYD FARRELL’s convincing pipes and smarts. On this totally encompassing retrospective, don’t miss (start with!) the insightful “Downward Christian Soldiers” and the troubling “Gunpoint Affection.”
Mott the Hoople – Mott (Legacy/SonyBMG)
Early ‘70s British glam rarely got better than this, so this new reissue with four bonus tracks is welcome. See what DAVID BOWIE saw in this great old band, when he produced All the Young Dudes — also reissued along with this and recommended!
Comsat Angels – Fiction (Renascent U.K.)
Album three was totally different—less edgy and revolutionary—than the first two albums also being reissued by Renascent that I mentioned last week. But damn if it hasn’t stayed in my player these 24 years since it came out. It’s just a fantastic, fantastic classic of moody, angsty, artful post-punk. It’s just more beautiful than anything else this amazing band did. I always think of MARK IBOLD from PAVEMENT when I take in “After the Rain.” Long before he became a touring musician, he and I worked by ourselves at a record store on Second Avenue in 1984 called Freebeing, and bonded right from our first day together there over our mutual love for this lovely, lovely balm for the suffering. (Mark, wherever you are now, hello!) It still sounds glorious in 2006. And don’t miss “What Else?!,” which is a total masterpiece of realistic romantic relationship frustration up there with the greatest WOODY ALLEN movie back then. And I don’t say that lightly. It still floors me!
Comsat Angels – Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones; The BBC Sessions 1979-1984 (Renascent U.K.)
The band’s BBC sessions are another way to experience these Sheffield wonders, the last of the four Renascent reissues. It’s so good that these four CDs are being made available again. All these U.K. bands reviving early ‘80s Brit post-punk, meet your match here!!!
Stereolab – Fab Four Suture (Too Pure)
Few people make more soothing, listenable, and enjoyable repetitive-pop than these veterans, who apparently have an unlimited supply of songs in this vein to offer. This compiles recent vinyl singles onto one handy CD.
New Radiant Storm King – The Steady Hand (Darla)
17 years after forming at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, these unsung, mostly overlooked folks might be doing their best work now, on this crisp summation of top-shelf modern indie pop. PEYTON PINKERTON has already established himself as a consummate guitar stylist touring and recording with the better-known PERNICE BROTHERS these last several years. Now it’s time to give his own band its due.
The Neurotics –
Kickstarting a Backfiring Nation (Jungle U.K.)
This great idea, of recording a live LP in a special “gig” at their usual recording studio in front of a live audience, produced spectacular results. Here augmented with six bonus tracks that were formerly non-LP EP tracks, this is the ideal way for newcomers to experience this fantastic Harlow, Essex, U.K. band’s shockingly perfect blend of punk, pop, and protest. It adds a huge storm and buzz to their debut album (as NEWTOWN NEUROTICS classics and fattens their other two LPs (recently reissued together by Jungle) tracks considerably. You like the early JAM? Well, I’m a big fan too, but still I claim: After that band broke up, this band did a similar thing as that band did on its first two albums and did it even better, given that STEVE DREWETT could write tunes as memorable as the young PAUL WELLER, and as a lyricist, Drewett may have been the absolute best sociopolitical music writer of the mid 1980s (and a poet too: see “My Death”). It’s time you checked out him and this corking trio. (Plus, as per the original LP in 1987, it includes all their poet friends who read their funny and inspiring political poems that night. It just adds extra weight and makes you wonder why so few today write anything worth singing or reading in these troubled times.)
Lanterna – Desert Ocean (Badman)
Of all the bands who have sounded like THE CHAMELEONS to me, this American instrumental band is the only one who has ever truly managed their feeling of timeless float in utter repose and endless beauty like a rainbow. This new LP is absolutely no exception. You don’t even miss the vocals most of the time. Were I a filmmaker, I would film this band’s albums. There are so many plotlines their music evokes.
Doug Gillard – Salamander (Pink Frost/Big Takeover)
Yeah, I know this is on my own label (with my partner JEFF KELSON, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t play this CD a dozen times this week. Gillard is best known as GUIDED BY VOICES’ guitar player their last decade or so, but I’ve been a fan of his since the early ‘80s days with Cleveland’s DEATH OF SAMANTHA. And this is his first solo album. I can’t review it here, obviously, and have you credit me for non-bias, but let’s juts say I truly love the record, and I agreed with Amazon.com when they put it in their “Top 10 Alternative Albums” list for the year, and called it, “a hook-bejeweled passage into three decades (sixties through eighties) of pop-influenced songwriting, promoting a variation from GBV’s spit-shined power-pop for a more pensive display, while his unrefined self-production juxtaposes his own complex guitar solos and piano breaks with the record’s melodically gorgeous tone.” Yes, that’s what I think too!
(Note: as part of our “25th anniversary sale, if you want this CD for free, you can get it for nothing from our web site store
if you order just four of our back issues!
Sam and Dave – The Best of (Atlantic)
Because every week I seem to obsess on another of my oldest soul, or R&B, boogie-woogie, or ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll records. Playing this CD this week made me think of the opening slot they amazingly did with THE CLASH those two nights at the Palladium in September 1979 I was lucky enough to have experienced (when the cover of London Calling was shot). Between these guys, second, The Clash at (in my opinion) their absolute peak (playing their first two LPs and the half-dozen best songs from the just recorded London Calling) playing third and last, and the stunning UNDERTONES just releasing their incredible first LP playing first, that might be the best triple bill I ever saw, for sheer power, excitement, and variety. “Soul Man,” “Hold On, I’m Coming” (memorably covered by THE CHORDS), “Come on In,” “I Take What I Want” (memorably covered by the 1966 HOLLIES), and “A Place Nobody Can Find,” what else could you want? This is supreme, relaxed, pure soul music that makes me think of CURTIS MAYFIELD’s days in THE IMPRESSIONS.