Tokyo Jihen introduced me to Ned Doheny with a blistering cover of “Give It Up for Love”. Doheny’s original is far mellower but epitomizes his blue-eyed soul. This album wasn’t a success at the time, but the collector’s market all but demanded a reissue.
Soundtrack, Schoolhouse Rock: Grammar Rock
When I was a kid, I dug the Schoolhouse Rock shorts between cartoons because they were catchy. As an adult, I find the Schoolhouse Rock songs rather sophisticated. Strip the didacticism from the songs, and you get pop music every bit as durable as anything in the American songbook.
PJ Harvey, 4-Track Demos
I have a TASCAM four-track recorder from 1991 that still works, but I’ve never really perceived it as a very robust tool. Then I heard this album, and I wonder if I can push it’s capabilities. I’m nowhere near the performer of Polly Jean, though.
Mr. Bungle, The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo
My interest in Mr. Bungle pretty much started and ended with the self-titled debut, although I did own California for a brief time. But I couldn’t pass up hearing the band’s earliest work re-recorded with Slayer’s Dave Lombardo and Anthrax’s Scott Ian.
Propellerheads was one and done, but Decksandrumsandrockandroll was good enough to garner a Mercury Prize nomination. My introduction to the band happened in a gay bar in Chicago.
I don’t really care for the album cover, but it doesn’t take away from the music.
Camouflage, Methods of Silence
For some reason, I had it in my head that this album was boring compared to Voices and Images, but I was mistaken.
This past year, I started keeping a log of purchases every week, and a cursory look at those entries show how much catalog has taken over my collection.
Like last year, many of these purchases come from Lifelong Thrift Store or Goodwill. A month-long CD sale at Easy Street Records contributed quite a number of titles. I’ve whittled down nearly 600 purchases to a list of Favorite 10.
Patti Smith, Horses: The first time I played this album, I didn’t get it. So I played a few more times and became fascinated with it on each play.
Boris, Pink: I remember other Japanese indie rock fans fawning over this album, and it’s taken me 12 years to get around to finding out why.
David Bowie, Scary Monsters: At first I was going to be boring and choose Ziggy Stardust or Let’s Dance as my favorite Bowie album, but this one takes it, hands down.
Bruce Springsteen, Nebraska: I like the story of how this album came about just as much as I like the end result.
Fugazi, The Argument: Fugazi didn’t make a bad album, just less good ones. The Argument would probably be Fugazi’s best album if 13 Songs and Repeater weren’t in the way.
Joni Mitchell, Court and Spark: I went on a Joni Mitchell binge this year, and this album is the only one I really like. Sorry, Blue.
Roxy Music, Avalon: Quite the dapper album.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced: It’s weird how familiar this album feels after years of hearing covers by Kronos Quartet, Sting and Emmylou Harris.
The Pogues, Rum Sodomy and the Lash: I didn’t accommodate the Pogues during my Celtic phase of the mid-90s because they were more rock than Celtic.
Wire, Pink Flag: I’m also fond of the self-titled Killing Joke album.
The last half of the year was stuffed with reissues that were of particular interest for me.
Art of Noise, In No Sense? Nonsense! (Deluxe Edition):(Who’s Afraid Of …?) The Art of Noise! may have all the hits, but the post-ZTT albums from 1986 and 1987 are the band’s creative peak.
Camouflage, Voices and Images (30th Anniversary Edition): This reissue received a limited run in Germany, so pick it up before they’re all gone.
Johnny Hates Jazz, Turn Back the Clock (30th Anniversary Edition): The acoustic re-recording of this album works quite well, given how reliant the original was on MIDI.
Kate Bush, Remastered Part I and Remastered Part II: It’s apparent on which side Kate takes in the loudness wars, because these remasters do nothing with the volume. In the case of The Red Shoes, it’s actually pulled back. But they sound great, particularly Part I.
Julee Cruise, The Voice of Love: I so dug Floating Into the Night that I didn’t think it could be topped. It wasn’t, because The Voice of Love is a different beast.
Sasagawa Miwa, Houjou -BEST 03-18-: I passed on the two most recent Sasagawa Miwa albums, but this retrospective does a good job of highlighting the best parts of her output.
Frank Ocean, Endless: This album was better than Blonde.
Prince, Piano and a Microphone 1983: How about a vinyl reissue of the Love Symbol album?
A decade ago, I wrote a series of entries ranking my favorite albums from 1985 to 2004. My collection has expanded greatly since then, particularly in the last five years. So I wanted to see what has changed in 10 years.
I had discovered so much music in 1987 that at the time, I thought 1988 was a dud by comparison. Over the years, I’ve discovered that is not the case. The Favorite 10 doesn’t change from the original list, but look at that expanded list.
In Tua Nua, The Long Acre
Midnight Oil, Diesel and Dust
Kronos Quartet, Winter Was Hard
The Sugarcubes, Life’s Too Good
Tracy Chapman, Tracy Chapman
Living Colour, Vivid
Duran Duran, Big Thing
Sonic Youth, Daydream Nation
The Dead Milkmen, Beelzebubba
Other favorites from the year:
Stephen Sondheim, Into the Woods
John Adams, Nixon in China
Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, Savvy Show Stoppers
Camper Van Beethoven, Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart
Sarah McLachlan, Touch
Erasure, The Innocents
Sade, Stronger Than Pride
The Pogues, If I Should Fall from Grace with God
The Waterboys, Fisherman’s Blues
The Godfathers, Birth, School, Work, Death
Camouflage, Voices & Images
Ambitious Lovers, Greed
Iron Path, Iron Path
Toni Childs, Union
Throwing Muses, House Tornado
Pixies, Surfer Rosa
N.W.A., Straight Outta Compton
Information Society, Information Society
Ofra Haza, Shaday
The Smiths, Rank
Lucinda Williams, Lucinda Williams
I guess I really limited the expanded list 10 years ago so I wouldn’t have to do so much writing. The Pogues, the Waterboys, the Godfathers, Ambitious Lovers, Ofra Haza, the Smiths and Lucinda Williams would not have appeared on that list — I’ve discovered those albums only in the last 6 years.
Quite a number of interesting vinyl reissues and deluxe editions coming down the pike …
Cher, Dancing Queen, Sept. 28
I think some gay cultural norm dictates I should show interest in this convergence of iconography, and I do, albeit more from an anthropological standpoint.
Johnny Hates Jazz, Turn Back the Clock (Deluxe Edition), Oct. 5
“Shattered Dreams” is an awesome single, and Turn Back the Clock was a decent album — something I’m glad I encountered but couldn’t consider a must-have. And yet I’m looking forward to this deluxe edition release.
Camouflage, Voices and Images (Deluxe Edition), Oct. 19
I actually like this album more than Turn Back the Clock, and the limited pressing of 1,500 copies for the CD (500 for vinyl) is nudging me to pre-order.
Sasagawa Miwa, Houjou -BEST ’03~’18-, Oct. 31
Has it really been 15 years since Sasagawa Miwa’s debut? This best album contains 10 previously released tracks, 3 new songs and a new version of “Himawari”.
Art of Noise, In No Sense? Nonsense! (Deluxe Edition), Nov. 2
This album doesn’t lend itself to singles as easily as In Visible Silence, but it’s a worthwhile, challenging listen, a period where the band pushed the limits of technology and music.
Dead Can Dance, Dionysus, Nov. 2
Dead Can Dance has always struck me as a band I should have been digging in high school, but at the time, their albums were available only as imports.
Hajime Chitose returns to her roots as a shima uta singer on this 7-track mini album.
Mikami Chisako, I AM Ready!, Nov. 28
Mikami Chisako starts anew with music reminiscent of fra-foa’s second album, if the YouTube clips on her official site are any indication. I have to admit I’ve missed her, and Chuu no Fuchi is still one of my favorite albums. It’s criminal that it’s out of print.
Living Colour, Time’s Up, Sept. 28
I’d be all over this reissue from Megaforce Records if I hadn’t already found an original pressing a number of years ago. This album doesn’t seem to have had the same impact as its predecessor, but it some ways, it expands and perhaps improves upon Vivid.
YEN TOWN BAND, Montage, Nov. 3
I’ve never encountered a vinyl reissue from YEN TOWN BAND that didn’t immediately sell out.
Utada Hikaru, Hatsukoi, Nov. 7
Any chance for a vinyl reissue of ULTRA BLUE?
Bill Frisell, Nashville, Nov. 9
Bill Frisell had always incorporated Americana, country and folk into his music, but Nashville is the strongest statement of those influences, resulting in one of his most accessible albums. Robin Holcomb shows up on two covers.