30: SERGE GAINSBOURG
HISTOIRE DE MELODY NELSON
(LIGHT IN THE ATTIC)
Serge’s psychedelic magnum opus. A total joy, still.
29: SAINT ETIENNE
Irksome totem of the bad ol’ 90s, or one of the great English pop groups? We reckon the latter. On Foxbase Alpha, their best and most bittersweet album, Sarah Cracknell and the boys portray their homeland with a humour and acuity somewhere between Morrissey and Mike Skinner (in a good way).
28: BIZZY B
Planet Mu pay their respects to hardcore ragamuffin Bizzy B, whose twisted Amen variations ran the road back in the day. B also unwittingly influenced legion breakcore tosspots to make an ‘orrible, worthless racket for years to come, but don’t hold that against him.
27: PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED
It’s hard to believe that the goon off those butter ads actually made one of the sickest, most influential avant-pop albums of all time, Metal Box. He was also in some band called the Sex Pistols, but musically speaking their achievements pale in comparison.
26: THE FEELIES
A really welcome reissue of an album oft-rated by the US college rock community but scarcely known outside of it. Based out of New Jersey and adoring devotees of Eno and Kraftwerk, The Feelies only really made one good album, the aptly titled Crazy Rhythms. On the face of it’s just workaday new wave pop, but it doesn’t take long before you note the prominence, the dominance even, of the drums. They represent a logical but totally weird extrapolation of Klaus Dinger’s motorik, made all the more weird by the plaintive, folk-tinged guitar parts that they frame and at times threaten to crush.
MONOTONPRODUKT MCMLXXXIX 20Y++
Konrad Becker has his ardent followers, that’s for sure, but we’ve long been nonplussed as to why he’s not better known. His work is best described as post-krautrock, pre-techno minimalism, and in its eternally hypnotic grooves you’ll find fore-whispers of Rhythm & Sound, Kompakt, Carl Craig and much else besides. The highly collectible Monotonprodukt MCMLXXXXIX only ever came out on 12”, so this 20th anniversary edition, including rare bonus tracks, marked its debut on CD. It’s much more frenetic and rhythmically jarring than the unspeakably cool, pulsating Monotonprodukt 07 (reissued last year by Oral), but still a fascinating collection from one of electronic music’s last true cult figures.
24: CARL CRAIG
69: THE LEGENDARY ADVENTURES OF A FILTER KING
OK, so the box itself was a bit of a rip-off, but there’s no arguing with the music remastered and repressed within: Carl Craig’s work as 69 is arguably his most vital, unbeatable for its raw rhythmic crunch and forthright emotionality. Worth it just to own the pristine new pressing of ‘Desire’, a track rightfully considered by many to be the greatest techno track of all time.
FOR THE WHOLE WORLD TO SEE
Drag City have been doing some sterling work on the reissue front of late – check the bunch of Bert Jansch albums they dusted down this year, and which unfortunately didn’t make it into this rundown. Here they finally gave a proper release to the “lost” album by 70s Detroit’s seminal black punks, Death – whose story is interesting enough for you to take time out and read in full.
22: THE STONES ROSES
THE STONE ROSES
(SILVERTONE / SONY)
The Stone Roses’ debut album sounds a little quaint however many years it is down the line, but then a certain naivety is part of its enduring charm. Common ‘Roses discourse makes so much – too much – of the band’s connection to rave that you could forgive a newcomer for being surprised at how far away from dance music The Stone Roses actually is. Indeeed, its timeless, psychedelic pop sound has more to do with the first summer of love than the second.
21: DANIEL WANG / VARIOUS ARTISTS
DANIEL WANG PRESENTS BALIHU 1993-2008
One of the first “nu-disco” labels, the early records of Balihu were loop-based re-edits of the most rudimentary but loving kind, and in the liner notes of this fantastic retrospective Daniel Wang descibes the label as being more like a fanzine to the classic disco sounds he loved. As time went on, Wang and his stable, a close-knit circkle of friends including Brennan Green and Ilya Santana, became more composerly in their approach – but that’s arguably when the magic was lost. Listening back it’s the early tracks like Wang’s acid-disco burner ‘Warped’ and ‘(Like Some Dream) I Can’t Stop Dreaming’ that still command the attention. Balihu proved to be a big influence on people like DFA, Prins Thomas and Rub ‘N Tug, and this lovingly assembled compilation is an essential lesson in modern dancefloor history.