Brand new second hand: the best re-issues and compilations of the year gone by.
Pylon came from the same Athens, Georgia post-punk scene as REM and The B52s, but favoured a sound more salty and anarchic sound than their peers. New York’s DFA crew are big fans – Hercules & Love Affair’s Andy Butler famously has a Pylon tattoo – and having previously reissued the band’s 1980 debut Gyrate, this the label rescued 1983′s Chomp from thrift-store obscurity.
39: LERON CARSON
RED LIGHTBULB THEORY ’87-’88
Not strictly speaking a reissue, but rather a 2×12” collection of archive recordings made in the late 80s by teenage acid house prodigy Leron Carson; remastered from cassette by Omar-S and released on Theo Parrish’s Sound Signature label. For all their obvious primitivism, the tracks here sound more soulful and future-proof than 99% of all the “new” house and techno released in 2010.
38: EDWARD WILLIAMS
LIFE ON EARTH: MUSIC FROM THE 1979 BBC TV SERIES
Jonny Trunk had to purchase a man’s entire record collection in order to get his hands on this strange masterpiece of eerie English chamber music. Composed by Edward Williams for David Attenborough’s groundbreaking wildlife series Life On Earth, it’s quite magnificently evocative of nature’s rhythms and sudden magical flourishes; however, it had never before been properly released, merely privately pressed in a tiny run so that the musicians who played on the record could each take home a copy. The style is impish modern classical, nicely enriched by Williams’ 1973 VCS3 synthesizer; the resulting album – replete with track titles like ‘The Giant Clam – Slow Dance For Nudibranchs – Glaucus And Valella’ – is a must for followers of Britain’s unique parochial-experimental tradition. Trunk’s knighthood meanwhile, is long overdue.
37: LLOYD MILLER
A LIFETIME IN ORIENTAL JAZZ
Ultra-rare archive recordings of the French composer and musicologist in action, combining eastern instrumentation and melody with a western modal aesthetic. A ravishing and totally unique listen; if you buy only one jazz record this year – and let’s face it, you’ll buy probably none – make sure it’s A Lifetime in Oriental Jazz.
36: VARIOUS ARTISTS
FACTORY RECORDS: COMMUNICATIONS 1978-92
If the importance of Factory Records, home to New Order, Joy Division, A Certain Ratio and more needs explaining to you then you should probably be reading another magazine. Or, better still, buy yourself this box set, have a listen, and then come back to us.
35: THE VASELINES
ENTER THE VASELINES
Eternally beautiful and whimsical fare from the greatest indie-pop band ever to come out of the US [easy now - Ed].
34: MAX RICHTER
Originally released on the BBC’s Late Junction imprint in 2003, Memoryhouse is the first full-length album by Max Richter, the acclaimed “post-classical” composer best known for his album The Blue Notebooks and scoring Waltz With Bashir.
It’s a collection of intense, extravagantly romantic orchestral pieces obviously influenced by Philip Glass and Zbigniew Preisner, and while there are intimations of the electronic textures Richter will bring to bear on his subsequent work, really this is about the extravagant, unashamedly filmic melodies: in Richter’s world you’re always sprinting through Paris to catch the last train that will take you to Prague and save your one true love from the concentration camps. If you like a bit of high-drama in your music, then Memoryhouse is for you.
33: RUFIGE CRU
REINFORCED PRESENTS RUFIGE CRU: THE EARLY PLATES
Early productions from Goldie which revolutionalised hardcore and precipitated jungle, but remain a world unto themselves. Listening to ‘Darkrider’ now is sending shivers up the collective FACT spine; had this comp not been digital-only it would’ve been a serious contender for #1 spot in this list.
PABLO HONEY, THE BENDS, OK COMPUTER, KID A, AMNESIAC, HAIL TO THE THIEF
Radiohead flew the EMI coup last year in order to pursue their much-vaunted pay-what-you-want strategy for In Rainbows. EMI responded by this year milking the band’s back catalogue, pumping out a series of reissues which were pretty much wholly unnecessary but affirmed, if it needed affirming, that Radiohead have no equals when it comes to making stadium-filling yet experimental rock.
31: RICK WADE
HARMONIE PARK REVISITED
Michigan deep house producer Wade’s Harmonie Park series has proved a consistent delight since its launch in 1994, proffering a pumping post-Moodymann sound with a big disco influence and a broad smile. Unfortunately latecomers had to be prepared to part with obscene amounts of cash to lay their hands on best 12″s in the catalogue; everyone had finally got wise to the fact that Wade was good, but no one could heard the fricking music. In step Amsterdam’s Rush Hour, who repressed the 12″s and slung ‘em in handsome limited edition box set, then delivered an affordable CD edition too. Nice one!