Category Archives: Vinyl reissues

New Additions: Where’s the Danzig?

It was my Birthday at the end of March there and, naturally, some new records have somehow found their way into my collection (nestling snugly into the ‘need to listen’ pile).

I also decided to pick up an album that’s been on my list a wee while.

What are they?  It’s funny you should ask.

Rainer – Worried Spirits

Fire Records has been releasing Rainer’s albums at a bit of a snail’s pace, though they made some serious progress last year.  I had picked up Barefoot Rock a while back, but I’ve been waiting (im)patietly for my very favourite Rainer album to receive the vinyl release it deserves for a couple of years.  I had contacted Fire Records last summer to query whether it was on the cards and they didn’t let on that there were any imminent plans.  It was only via a vinyl group earlier in March that I learned it had been released… in December!!

Anyhoo, my wife picked it up for me and it was surprising to see that it’s on really lovely sun yellow vinyl.  This replaces an old Demon Records CD copy I had which was somehow misplaced or lost.  I love everything about this one and unreservedly so… from the front cover, the text, the album title, the song cycle.

My only gripe with the Fire reissue is that the track-listing on the back includes tracks that are available only via the download.  The release really could have benefited from a second slice of vinyl for the bonus cuts they’ve included.

Still, I’m not gonna complain, cause I have one of my absolute favourite albums and it sounds pretty brilliant.

These next two were purchased using a wee voucher I had got and they just arrived yesterday.

Earthless – From The Ages

Black Heaven has been on heavy rotation here and I’m on an Earthless kick (no bad thing).  I was looking for a copy of Rhythms From A Cosmic Sky on vinyl, but it was sold out and I thought I’d have a look for their last one instead, cause I wasn’t all that familiar with it cause I never really found the time to sit down and consume all 60+ minutes (30 minutes of that are the title track!).  I’ve yet to drop the needle on it, but I have been consuming all its enlightening glory via the instant download I’d received at the time of purchase and I’m looking forward to hearing how they split that title track!

Jeff Tweedy – Together At Last

This was a bit of a no-brainer, really (though I did ask JH if he’d heard it and if he’d recommend it).  It’s not often you see a record for less than a tenner, let alone one that was a) just released last year, b) by an artist you like a whole lot, and c) features a half dozen of your favourite tunes by that artist’s band.  Together At Last ticks all those boxes (or at least it did when I purchased it).  It’s basically Tweedy and his acoustic guitar performing tracks from his career (Golden Smog and Loose Fur, as well as Wilco).

Admittedly, I had been on the fence about this one, cause, well, I have the songs I really like and didn’t know what benefit having them again would be.  But this is pretty exceptional.  Intimate and fragile… and the versions of Via Chicago, Ashes Of American Flags, Muzzle of Bees, I Am Trying To Break Your Heart and I’m Always In Love are really pretty special.

Lastly, that album I finally decided it was time to pick up?

Screaming Trees – Last Words: The Final Recordings

Like a lot of records, this has been on my list for a long time.  That Mr. Yellowface guy kinda got me looking at copies online.  I spotted one for a tenner on eBay and thought “yeah, it’s time”.  There’s not much to look at – no liner notes or detailed credits, etc – but it’s a lovely slice of red vinyl (and the songs sound amazing).

And that’s it.

I reckon there’ll be something of a record buying break for a while as we weigh up life stuffs.

But I’ll definitely be writing stuff more often, though.

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The Best Band In The Whole Damn Land

Lift To Experience

So, I’m currently sitting listening to Lift To Experience’s The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads.  This has been a favourite of mine since I first heard it about 12 years ago.  I was a little late to hop aboard the Lift To Experience train, y’see.  Missed it, actually.  By the time I got into these guys, they had long split.  Aside from the odd gig and odd recording, Josh T. Pearson had pretty much disappeared.  His co-conspirators awfy quiet, too.  The only evidence of their existence was this incredible album.

You can imagine how pleased I was when they announced that they were reforming for a few shows last year.  Could this mean they’ll be writing and recording again?  A tour!?  Oh!  But what’s this!?  Mute, announced a reissue of The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads was due to land on February 3rd.  Not just any reissue, either; a definitive version.  A new mix, remastered, and with nice revised artwork.  And for those who want vinyl there’s lovely blue and red slices of awesome.  As God intended.  So, I’ve had this pre-ordered since November and I was really pretty excited about it.

As you can imagine, I was pretty gutted it didn’t arrive on Friday.  However, Monday night apocalyptic gospel works just peachy for me.  As I sit here listening to this new ‘definitive version’ I’m reminded of that first time with The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads.  The new mix is incredible.  It’s loud and dynamic.  I’m excited.  I’m in awe.  I’m inspired.  It reminds me that it’s tracked live with just one guitar.  And man, that rhythm section… so many things I’m hearing for the first time.  This is how music should sound.  This is how it should grab you.

“When America falls the World will fall with her”.

Indeed.

I’ll write a bit more about this one at some point soon.  Right now I just want to soak it all in.  Again.

Set The Dials To Thrill Me

So, at the start of the week there I received an email.  The Afghan Whigs Newsletter, actually.  ‘The Afghan Whigs’ Black Love Turns 20’ It declares.  I know this to be a fact, as I am only too familiar with the album (it is, after all, one of my ‘Fifteen’).  However, I figured there must be a reason for highlighting this to folks who likely know the album’s age.

“Perhaps a few dates of The Afghan Whigs play Black Love”, I think to myself as I hover over the email ready to click …

“maybe a reissue?”

*click*

“though Music On Vinyl reissued it a while back and I have that already …”

The news?  The release of Black Love (20th Anniversary Edition) for Record Store Day Black Friday.  As I’m thinking “I don’t need that” I read the detail…

‘released on November 25 as a double-CD and a triple-LP’

“triple-LP!”

… ‘Both include a newly remastered version of the original 11-track album, plus nine previously unreleased recordings, including demos, outtakes and studio jams’.

So, that’s that pre-ordered.

unnamed-4

“Parcel for you, pal”

So, back in May I got a message from Mike Ladano saying that Aaron at KMA had located an item that would be of great interest to me.  Aaron is the keeper of the Master Grail List and I’d been meaning to send him a few titles for a while.  Anyhoo, a few months back I mentioned that aside from two things, I wasn’t all that fussed about the Record Store Day releases.  One of those two things was an all-timer. An album that I’m particularly mad about.

Neko Case’s Fox Confessor Brings the Flood.  Now, it’s not one I’d likely get my hands on  had I got out for the big celebrations and I had a look online and copies were a little too rich.  I have the CD, but it’s one of those albums that really needed to be in my collection.  Cause I absolutely love it.

Anyway, Aaron and I have been exchanging emails the last couple of weeks.  Mostly we wonder where the hell this thing is.  Each time the mailman has knocked on the door I’ve had my hopes up.  Got to the stage where I was looking at the door … poised to answer any knock around about the time the mailman was due.  But the enthusiasm waned a bit the last two weeks.  Saturday was different, though.  The door chapped and I was racing (and I didn’t even get a chance to change out of my pyjamas).
neko 1 They really put some effort into this too.  It really is a wonderful looking package. Red vinyl in a nice gatefold sleeve.  And an unexpected extra – a special Record Store Day slip mat.
neko 2

“She walked in with her alligator sister trying to get to Heaven on Sunday”: Stone Temple Pilots – No. 4 (1999)

no. 4So, 1999.  The Eve of the Millennium.  There were a few things I remember well.  The biggest thing – and the most bonkers – was the big dark cloud that loomed like the wormhole that opened over Stark Tower.  Complete global meltdown.  The annihilation of everything that makes the world tick: The Millennium Bug.  Folks walked around wondering if they would have functioning technology in a few months.  Would the internet break? Would planes fall from the sky?  Would we awake to a new, post-apocalyptic existence.  Menfolk becoming hunter-gatherers, while the womenfolk sew and throw some food together and the brainyfolk set about reinventing things that we used to take advantage of.

For me, though, the fall of 1999 was all about the return of Stone Temple Pilots.  The most awesomest of alternative rock n’ rollers. By this point they’d released two utterly wonderful albums in Purple and Tiny Music … Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop, but they still endured a fair bit of criticism.  Some of it about their front-man Weiland and his troubles; some of it about them being some second-rate grunge band. For me, Stone Temple Pilots were more than a ‘grunge band’ (or the “Pearl Jam copyists” that some claimed).  I’ve often discussed this with friends of mine over the years – especially the ‘grunge lite’ tag, Weiland’s harmonies and the fact that they were a band that were more creative than many of those considered to be their peers.  They were more original and dynamic and, quite frankly, there wasn’t a band at that time who had the attack, swagger and hooks they had going on.  Anyway, despite all the problems and the madness, Stone Temple Pilots were back with their fourth album, simply titled No. 4.  Forget the Millennium Bug, suckers!
lyricsFrom the first couple of seconds of Down it’s clear that this one is a darker album than its predecessor.  Likely the result of Weiland’s troubles with addiction and suchlike.  He doesn’t sound angry about the trouble he’s been in, but he sounds mighty conflicted.  Weiland alludes to his complicated relationship with the drugs when he sings “You can get it if you really want it, but you better off just leave it alone. You won’t forget it if you ever had it, so you’re better off just staying at home” (Heaven & Hot Rods) and “Falling fast but doing all I can. I know the questions but I lost the answers.  I got the message and the message stood” (Pruno).  While Down was heavy musically, Heaven & Hot Rods and Pruno are possibly the heaviest two punch combo in the Pilots’ canon due to the weight in Weiland’s lyrics and performance (not something you’ll read every day!).  Three songs in and Stone Temple Pilots are rocking like a burned-out star.  Those same influences are buzzing about, but the texture is all rough and distorted.  The psychedelic grooves and bass runs of DeLeo are really pretty special during Church on Tuesday and Sour Girl (about the break-down of Weiland’s marriage).

Not that Side 1 was guilty of slouching, but Side 2 really turns things up a notch.  No Way Out kicks things off and rocks that shit up, there’s some more weight in Weiland’s lyrics, too (“I’ve been a walking a lonesome highway. I felt as though I had no home”) but the band really do hit their stride.  Sex & Violence thrashes like some metallic serpent as Weiland revisits a past relationship (quite possibly the subject of Sour Girl), before he asks for a bit of faith during the pretty brilliant Glide (“just give me half a chance from throwing it all away”).  Glide is awesome – it really is.  The riff and the cajoling bass … and even Kretz on the kit!  Man, it’s so good.  Weiland also sounds pretty excellent on here.  Clean, inspired and showing off his range.  I Got You is also pretty brilliant.  Weiland is lyrically pretty open here – chatting about his troubles and that relationship that he just can’t walk away from.  MC5 and Atlanta, though – for so long I put those two tracks back-to-back on every mix-tape I would make.  One drenched with the punk influences of the Stooges and, well, MC5, and the other The Doors.  Seriously good stuff.
stpbackIt’s often been suggested that Scott Weiland’s struggles with drug addiction had been the reason that the band never quite reached the highs expected.  Those highs, I imagine, being the commercial success enjoyed by the likes of the bands that critics claimed they mimicked following the success of Purple.  I’m not so sure about that, though; Weiland is an interesting chap and a key to the band’s sound (listen to Talk Show, Army of Anyone or even Stone Temple Pilots featuring Chester Bennington if you don’t believe me).  He’s abstract both as a vocalist and song-writer.  His phrasing, delivery and sense of melody are so important to the feel of Purple and Tiny Music … Gifts from the Vatican Gift Shop, and it’s no different here.  His lyrics are often poignant and ludicrous (“she walkedin with her alligator sister”, etc), but he delivers them with a tremendous amount of verve and style.

One of the big criticisms of No.4 is the sound (‘brick walled’ – trust me, there’s a lot of gripes out there), though I personally thought it suited the material.  Music On Vinyl’s release is cut from a 24 bit / 192 kHz digital master and actually sounds a little different to the CD to these ears.  There’s a bit more space and mid-range, but the nature of it hasn’t been altered. The way it was mixed was intentional and one of the main reasons I love this one.  It’s claustrophobic and a bit stressed.  Maybe how Weiland felt.  How the band felt, in fact.  Regardless, it’s a big metallic motherfucker of an album and one worth setting aside 40 odd minutes for.

The March Record Round-Up

Welcome to the latest addition of ‘what’s J been buying this time’.  Well, couple of new records over the last month and I’ve also decided to buy less.  See I discovered while shuffling them around that I got a bunch that I haven’t yet listened to and a bunch that I actually don’t have much interest in listening to.  I guess that’s what happens when you see records that have a reputation (yeah, I’m looking at you Bad Company and Bridge Over Troubled Water).  Anyway, here’s the records that have found their way into my collection over the last month.

srv + vhStevie Ray Vaghan & Double Trouble – Texas Flood (£5.99) and Van Halen – Van Halen (£3.99)
Both of these were purchased from Mixed-Up Records at the start of the month.  Really pleased that I picked up Texas Flood – a pretty special record and this copy is in pretty good condition.  That Van Halen album is crackin’, too.  I don’t imagine it’s a special find, but I’ve been enjoying this one loads and it’s a nice addition to the collection.
nixPeter Gabriel – Peter Gabriel 4 / Security (£5), Frank Sinatra – Songs For Swingin’ Lovers! (£2), and INXS – Listen Like Thieves (£3)
Funny thing is, I hadn’t really intended on buying these three when I spotted them in the Record Fayre a couple of weeks ago.  I did intend on buying the Sinatra album for three reasons: 1. it’s brilliant; 2. I already have In The Wee Small Hours and this would complete my ‘must have’ Sinatra collection; and 3. despite the cover being tatty, the record was in really good condition and it was £2.

So why did I buy all three?  Well, I picked up the others while I mulled them over … and I found myself spilling them onto the floor.  A right racket, too.  So I could hardly put them back.  Urgh.  Luckily there was no damage – they all play fine, though the Gabriel record has a load of surface noise.  Oh, and those of you who said that Listen Like Thieves was better than Kick – you might be onto something (that’s for another post).
dg + stpDuke Garwood – Heavy Love and Stone Temple Pilots – No. 4 (birthday gifts from my wife)
Delighted with these.  Garwood’s Heavy Love is an early front-runner for my album of the year.  It really is pretty special – his voice is way out front and it’s both dusty and hypnotic (it’s also mixed by Lanegan and Alain Johannes).  The Stone Temple Pilots album is, in my opinion, their last truly great album.  Actually the first time this has been available on vinyl, so gotta love those folks at Music on Vinyl.
hnNilsson – Duit On Mon Dei (£3)
The most recent of the additions.  Truth be told I have never heard this.  One of those Nilsson records that got painted with the old ‘diminishing returns’ brush.  It’s been on my ‘wantlist’; more out of curiosity than anything else.  Anyway, I spotted it in a little book and record store over in Glasgow’s West End for £3 and decided to buy it.  The record itself is in pretty excellent condition and the ‘unipak gatefold’ is intact despite looking a little worn.  Quickly established itself as one of my favourite Harry Nilsson albums.

As always, you can expect to read about these here in due course (when I get to know them real good).

Are friends eclectic? The November records.

A couple o’ new records this month.  A couple I’ve been after for a while and I’m pleased to be able to change the list font to ‘strike-through.  Hurrah!  All in very nice condition and snapped up for a nice wee price.  So here goes.
first twoAC/DC‘s Back In Black and Replicas by Tubeway Army at £5 each

Two really great albums.  Spotted these in the Record Fayre and at £5 each I couldn’t resist.  Back In Black has a surface mark or two, but it sounds incredible.  Tubeway Army is a Dutch pressing.  Had to pick this up after recently being reminded of it’s sheer isolatingly mechanical awesomeness (say what now!?).
second twoThe Cars: Heartbeat City (sticker tear in the top left corner) and the self-titled debut by The Cars.

Interestingly I hadn’t thought about The Cars for a while.  Hadn’t really bothered much with anything beyond Candy-O, either.  Maybe a cursory listen.  However, another reminder of how incredible these guys are was timely, as I spotted Heartbeat City in the Record fayre for just £2.  The self-titled debut was picked up on Discogs for £1 (+ £3.50 postage) as it’s an all-timer.  A definite favourite (and you can expect a post about that in future now that I have the LP).
gentlemenThe Afghan WhigsGentleman.  The single LP ‘At 21’ reissue.  Looks like a replica of the original Sub Pop / Blast First UK release, too (£16.52 from Amazon).
last 2AC/DC‘s Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (£5) and Jeff Beck‘s Beck-Ola (a US 80s reissue by the looks of things – £6).

Record fair time at the Rutherglen Exchange.  I had a list of 8 records that I was hoping to see.  Unfortunately I only found one of them.  still, I had spotted Beck-Ola last time round and sorta regretted not buying it.  It’s a tremendous record.  Ol’ Rod in fine voice (still very much in the vocal extraordinaire stage) and a fantastic opener in All Shook Up.  So, £11 well spent there.

“Washed my face in the rivers of empire. Made my bed with a cardboard crate”: Calexico – Feast of Wire (2003)

Feast of Wire is quite something.  One of those albums I still marvel at and it’s pretty much been the only record I listened to all this week.  There’s always something that gets me enthusiastic about the album.  It might be a whole song.  It might just be a flurry of notes.  Guitar or trumpet.  The intro to Sunken Waltz.  The lap steel.  Or Convertino’s drum patterns.  Or the strings that loom over the dusty night sky of Black Heart.  Or Burns singing stuff like “With a head like a vulture and a heart full of hornets, he drives off the cliff into the blue”.  Man, it really could be anything.

But this is all really just part of the Calexico parcel.  Whether they’re just providing the soundtrack to the idea of a long lost frontier or squaring the circle that joins Dylan, Springsteen and Los Lobos they constantly deliver.  Always dusty, always swaying.  And those wry tales of characters whose hopes are raised despite abandoning everything they know make us smile.

I dare say the can be the alt. country Radiohead – dusty experimenters.  Even when the songs are so incredibly tight and the album impossibly concise.  Side A is as perfect a side as Calexico have ever thrown our way.  From that marvellous salvo of Sunken Waltz and the dusty Quattro (World Drifts In) through to the gorgeous 70s flavoured folk rock of Not Even Stevie Nicks and the hushed shuffle of Woven Birds via the detours of Stucco and Pepita.  Side B is where that old world Calexico roam.  In addition to their mariachi flavoured jazz and blues fusions (just listen to the trombone and trumpet dance around each other on Crumble!) they throw beeps and bips and nice crunchy rhythms out as the soundtrack their very own Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots (Attack El Robot! Attack!).  An exploration, you could say.

So, yeah … all that awesomeness is why Feast of Wire remains my favourite Calexico album.  It’s the one that never over-reaches.  It really is flawless to these ears.  Complete with all the mood pieces of the albums that came before it and the finely honed songcraft of those that came after.  The melodies are glorious and the guitars warm.  Trust me, it’s seriously good stuff.

A byrd in the hand is worth two in the bush (??): The Byrds: The Notorious Byrd Brothers / Sweetheart of the Rodeo (two-fer, 1976)

This one here is a good ol’ two-fer.  I’ve owned a few of these types o’ packages over the years on CD, but this is the first I’ve had on the ol’ vinyl. Picked this up for £4.49, too – back in October last year during one of my regular visits to the trove of treasures called the Record Fayre.  Although I’m still on the look out for these separately, I thought this was a nice catch.  Two very different but very splendid records from two very different line-ups of the 1968 Byrds, which just so happen to sound tremendous when listened to back-to-back (in whichever order you choose).

Notorious Byrd Brothers is a pretty spectacular album.  No kidding.  Despite the fact that the sessions were tense and resulted in the eventual departure of the notorious David Crosby, it’s an incredibly inspired record.  Filled with pop and country tunes coloured with the familiar Byrd harmonies, jingle jangley awesomeness and they go and throw in some spacey-oddness (moog!!!) for good measure.  That spacey-oddness is never overbearing though, so don’t let that put you off if you’ve never sat down with this one.

Artificial Energy is a wonderful opener and it’s lit up with some of that oddness. Draft Morning is a splendid slice of story telling, and Get To You had all the hallmarks of classic Byrds (Gene Clark written all over it and it’s since been confirmed that he’d co-written it).  The album ends with the space folk oddness of Space Odyssey – the alternative theme tune for Lost in Space (the Irwin Allen TV show from the 60s, not the re-imagined movie with Joey from Friends).

It didn’t sell, though.  Say what?  Yeah, the fans of 67 had turned their back on the Byrds!  What were they thinking!?  I mean, they had the delights of Natural Harmony, Old John Robertson and Tribal Gathering!byrdsInterestingly, the next step was to delve a little deeper into Americana – Sweetheart of the Rodeo.  For this ride McGuinn and Hillman hooked up with a young and hip country chap named Gram Parsons.

It’s common knowledge that Parsons became a major influence on the writing, arranging and recording of the album – essentially resulting in him steering the band to Nashville to record what is, essentially, a country album.  He also encouraged the involvement of some incredible session musicians who could deliver a specific feel and sound.

It starts and ends with two Bob Dylan tracks.  You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere (a track Dylan hadn’t even released at the time), I Am a Pilgrim and the Louvin Brothers’ The Christian Life really set the tone.  A really remarkable introduction to the record.  Despite the majority of his vocals having been replaced (there’s a whole book worth of chatter about why … and they’ve since been restored on the Legacy Edition of the album), Sweetheart of the Rodeo will always be defined by Parsons’ involvement and his wonderful Hickory Wind and 100 Years From Now (which really would have fitted nicely on the previous record).

Unsurprisingly, the album bombed.  The Byrds were no longer flying.  Parsons left soon after the recording was done, forming the Flying Burrito Brothers with Hillman following.

So, any one out there have any two-fers in the collection?  If so, are the albums a good combo …

“Life is fine”: Barefoot Rock With Rainer And Das Combo (2013 Fire Records Rainer Collection re-issue)

So, I’ve not actually been around much to post something.  Well, when I say not been around I mean I’ve been pre-occupied with other stuffs.  Other stuffs being loads o’ new music, GTAV and The Shield.  Shocker.

Anyhoo, after my recent £5 Record Fayre splurge, I found myself parting with £8 for a very magical record last weekend.  Totally non-intentional purchase I should add (the best ones usually are, right?), but when I spotted Barefoot Rock With Rainer And Das Combo I just couldn’t ignore it.  Y’see, Rainer (Ptacek) was quite something.  A real talent (lauded by Robert Plant and described by Billy Gibbons as “one of my favourite guitar men“).  I first heard his music back in 2005 when a friend loaned me the Live at the Performance Center CD (which I later bought and lost. Urgh).  The emotional punch of that album was quite something, though it paled in comparison to watching him perform Life Is Fine on Later

I picked up a few of his albums on CD and was completely immersed.  Incredible and powerful stuff.  This one was Rainer’s first official record and it’s a cracker, too.  Recorded in 1985 and released the following year after Making Waves heard all about the waves Rainer And Das Combo were making.  It’s one of those albums that you can easily forget about given how overlooked he is, but I’m real pleased that it was part of Fire Records’ Rainer Collection.  Complete with bonus cuts (I believe some featured on a 1994 CD reissue?) and some notes from Howe Gelb (who also produced).  Magic.

While my favourite remains the sun-bleached Worried Spirits. This is a brilliant reminder of the brilliance of Rainer And Das Combo ((Nick Augustine and Ralph Gilmore).  Driving dusty blues.  Kicking up dust with brilliant and relentless takes of Willie Dixon’s Mellow Down Easy and Robert Johnson’s The Last Fair Deal among some truly brilliant originals.  As for the bonus LP, side 3 includes the fuzzy take of Worried Spirit’s Life is Fine and the brilliantly dusty and unsettling groove of The Unseen Enemy.

So yeah.  A nice set and really pleased to have it in the collection.  Looking forward to picking up the rest of Fire Records’ Rainer reissues.  Good work, Fire … good work.