Last year, I may have complained about getting too many albums from Lifelong Thrift Shop, where I had started volunteering. SARS-CoV2 pretty much ended my volunteer work for this year, but I intend to resume once the pandemic subsides. I still make weekly visits, this time as a customer.
At least it’s afforded me to take a deeper dive into albums I do get.
Ned Doheny, Hard Candy: Does anyone else get a super homoerotic vibe from the cover?
Charlie Puth, Voicenotes: I just found him totally adorable in the Subway ads.
Robyn, Body Talk: I’m a latecomer to Robyn, but I see why she is popular with the gays.
Anton Reicha, Reicha Rediscovered, Vol. 1 (Ivan Ilić): Two volumes of an expected five have been released, so where are the other three?
Nakamori Akina, AKINA BOX, 1982-1989: This purchase pretty much seals my place in the Nakamori vs. Matsuda rivalry.
Various Artists, Studio One Rockers: Dawn Penn’s “No No No” is one of those tracks I loved but never knew who sang till recently.
The Damned, Machine Gun Etiquette: I love those thrift shop purchases that turn out to be keepers.
Gary Numan, The Pleasure Principle: I have “Cars” on a 7-inch single, and it only took me another 40 years before listening to the entire album.
SUPERCAR, OOKeah!!: I thought I had caught up on owning SUPERCAR’s studio albums, but this album along with OOYeah!! slipped through the cracks. Of the simultaneously-released pair from 1999, OOKeah!! is noisier with stronger writing.
The Dismemberment Plan, Change: I’m waiting for Emergency & I to show up at the thrift shop.
I actually bought more vinyl reissues this year than remasters or deluxe editions.
Wire Train, In a Chamber / Between Two Words / Ten Women: This 2-CD reissue of Wire Train’s Columbia albums might mark the first time Ten Women has been released on CD.
Tears for Fears, The Seeds of Love (Deluxe Edition): Wow, this album is longer than I remember.
U2, All That You Can’t Leave Behind (Deluxe Edition): I didn’t spring for the multi-disc edition with B-sides, but the inclusion of a live show did remind me of the only time I saw the band live, which was during the Elevation Tour.
Roberta Flack, First Take (50th Anniversary Edition): The bonus material on this expanded edition is illuminating, but it’s clear why they weren’t pursued for the album.
Neneh Cherry, Raw Like Sushi: This album so needed a remastering.
Mikami reset her post-fra-foa solo career in 2018 with a second debut album, confidently titled I AM Ready! This album looks like a continuation of its predecessor’s brighter sound.
Kronos Quartet, Long Time Passing, Oct. 9
Subtitled “Kronos Quartet and Friends Celebrate Pete Seeger”, this album looks like a follow-up to 2017’s Folk Songs, with fewer Nonesuch label mates collaborating.
Tears for Fears, The Seeds of Love (Deluxe Edition), Oct. 9
This album didn’t take off in the same manner as Songs from the Big Chair, but I liked it nonetheless. The 4-disc super deluxe edition is tempting, but I’m fine with the 2-disc version. I don’t need the vinyl reissue because I bought it the first time around.
Sam Amidon, Sam Amidon, Oct. 23
Amidon returns to mostly traditional material on this self-titled album, described as “the fullest realization to date of his artistic vision.”
Mr. Bungle, The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo, Oct. 30
Mr. Bungle goes back in time to re-record their first demo tape.
U2, All That You Can’t Leave Behind (Deluxe Edition), Oct, 30
I really liked this album when it came out, mostly because Pop was insufferable. I revisited it with the vinyl reissue and found it doesn’t age well. I will probably still get some version of this deluxe edition.
Duran Duran featuring Andy Wicket, Dreaming of Your Cars: 1979 Demos Pt. 2, Oct. 30
The first set of demos with Andy Wickett on vocals featured embryonic versions of what would become Duran Duran canon. On this follow-up, “Tel Aviv” is the only recognizable title, which doesn’t mean it sounds remotely familiar. Colored vinyl is already available for order, but a CD release is slated for October.
Emmylou Harris, Wrecking Ball, Oct. 16
The deluxe edition of Wrecking Ball was released during Record Store Day. This reissue serves up just the album and is available as part of Rhino’s Rocktober series.
Peter Gabriel, Secret World Live, Nov. 6
I couldn’t make the leap of following Paula Cole’s solo career, but her backing vocals on this live album is the real highlight
Soundtrack, Les Miserables ( Original French Concept Album)
I was never as much a fan of Les Misérables, compared to its contemporaries by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Stephen Sondheim. The music wasn’t as tuneful as Lloyd Webber or as complex as Sondheim. I did appreciate the production when I saw it in New York City in 1993.
Fast forward 25+ years later, and I happened across a recording of the original French concept album, stashed with the London cast recording. After hearing it in French, the music makes so much more sense. The melodies are fashioned for French, and while the English translation captures the main plot points, it doesn’t flow the way it does in the original language.
I propose future productions of Les Misérables have supertitles in translation but remains sung in French.
Deltron 3030, Deltron 3030
I’ve picked up Del tha Funkee Homosapien’s two Elektra albums this past year, but neither prepared me for the opera that is Deltron 3030.
Band of Susans, Love Agenda
I’m not sure why a world that could accommodate My Bloody Valentine and Ride could not also fit in Band of Susans. Perhaps it’s because they hewed closer to Sonic Youth than to the shoegazers. Love Agenda has the distinction of having Page Hamilton as a full-time member before he left to form Helmet.
Conlon Nancarrow, Complete Studies for Player Piano
In the past two years, I managed to acquire all four volumes of Nancarrow’s Complete Studies for Player Piano on the 1750 Arch label, half of them in the past month. The sheer impossibility of these pieces makes listening to them a joyous occasion. At least one of these studies sound like 8-bit video game effects.
This Record Store Day Black Friday reissue captures U2 at its most youthful. Not a hint of the slickness that would become their hallmark can be found on these three early tracks. The deluxe edition of Boy included U2-3 as bonus material.
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.
If my 8-year-old self were in control of this list, the soundtrack to Xanadu would occupy the top spot. The only other title he might have recognized would be Diana. And he would have questioned the inclusion of AC/DC.
David Bowie, Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)
Kate Bush, Never for Ever
Diana Ross, Diana
X, Los Angeles
Grace Jones, Warm Leatherette
Killing Joke, Killing Joke
Talking Heads, Remain in Light
AC/DC, Back in Black
Emmylou Harris, Roses in the Snow
Other favorites from the year:
The Police, Zenyatta Mondatta
ABBA, Super Trouper
The B-52’s, Wild Planet
The roots of my collecting bug are anchored in 1980.
I would bug my mom to buy me 7-inch singles. I was told I didn’t have the sufficient capacity to judge whether a full album would be worth the purchase price. My mom wasn’t about to drop cash on a set of songs if only one of them would entertain me.
So I amassed quite a lot of singles — “Tell It Like Is” by Heart, “A Lover’s Holiday” by Change, “Stomp!” by the Brothers Johnson.
I was, however, a pest about ABBA. The age of eight seems to be the right level of maturity for ABBA to sink its sugary hooks into an impressionable mind. My niece was crazy for Mamma Mia, the movie musical, right around the age I bugged my parents to get me their Greatest Hits, Vol. 2. The first volume didn’t have “Chiquitita.”
Video games interrupted my interest in music for four years, so it makes me wonder in how much more trouble I’d be today without that disruption.