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Friday, September 02, 2005
Weekend Reissue Roundup #23: 09/03/05
Artist: Album (label, release date) 1-5 stars:
Terry Reid: Superlungs (Astralworks, August 30, 2005) ****
Hall And Oates: Atlantic Years (WEA International, August 30, 2005) ****
Pere Ubu: Ray Gun Suitcase (Cooking Vinyl, August 30, 2005) ****
Sloan: One Chord To Another (Koch, August 30, 2005) ****
Terry Reid: Superlungs
Terry Reid is little more than a footnote these days, but in the late 60's he was a real up-and-comer whose 1968 debut album, Bang Bang You're Terry Reid, created enough of a stir that Jimmy Page invited him to become lead singer for Led Zeppelin. Singer/guitarist Reid passed on the offer, but did recommend Page talk to the band that opened for him at his gigs, Band of Joy, which featured Robert Plant and John Bonham. Next, Reid was approached by Deep Purple as a potential member, he turned them down, too. The 20-year-old-phenom landed a spot on the Rolling Stones 1969 tour as opening act. His second album, Terry Reid, was well-received, but never caught fire, peaking at #147. In the early 70's he was unable to record, due to litigation with producer Mickie Most; his third album, River, wasn't released until 1973 and sold poorly; he's released only four studio albums in the 32 years since. Superlungs captures Reid's peak with a collector's thoroughness, and makes a good case for why he was so in demand. Leading off with his best-known recording, a version of Donovan's "Superlungs My Supergirl", the album contains all the highlights from his first two albums, plus interesting material like three songs recorded live on KSAN, San Francisco in 1970 at his peak, and several cuts from the 1971 Glastonbury Fayre, which had been released as a film. Five cuts recorded live in 1976 close the collection. Reid's early work is in a psychedelic-blues vein that recalls Rory Gallagher; his later material is in more of a Robin Trower mode. The sound quality varies through the whole disc, although the rarity of this material makes it worthwhile. Reid's enigmatic career may be one of blown opportunities, but the man did have talent. Since his material has seldom appeared on CD, this might be the best place to get acquainted with him.
Hall And Oates: The Atlantic Years
This is a re-release of a 1996 Rhino compilation that drew from Hall and Oates' four albums they recorded for Atlantic records from 1972-1975. This timeline also roughly matches the heyday of the Philly soul sound, which informed the duo's early music tremendously, as epitomized from their lone hit from the era, "She's Gone" (included here in its full-length album version). Their Philly soul sound came honestly; in the 60's Daryl Hall was in Kenny Gamble and the Romeos; a group that also included Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff, and Thom Bell, all three of whom became key producers and masterminds of the sound. Hall and Oates first recorded together in a group called Gulliver, which released only one album (not represented here), before re-launching their careers as a duo. Their Atlantic material was well-produced by Arif Mardin and Todd Rundgren, and the duo took some chances musically, but they never managed to land a very big audience ("She's Gone", their biggest hit, peaked at #60). When they changed to RCA in 1975, they altered their sound considerably, focusing on singles, and adding some r&b and disco flavoring which would ultimately make them superstar hitmakers. Fans of their later work should give this material a listen to hear where their roots lay; in addition to Philly soul, there are hints of folk and pop. Non-fans might actually prefer their hitless Atlantic years to their big years, since it has a more organic connection to the scene it emerged from.
Pere Ubu: Ray Gun Suitcase
Proto punk/new-wave/art-rock/industrial/experimental band Pere Ubu are best remembered for their groundbreaking 1978-1982 albums, which mixed all of their disaparate elements into a noisy mix of frightening, but oddly humanistic, art-punk. Known for strange staccato rhythms, boldly challenging melodies, controlled chaos, yelping vocals, and dissonance, the Cleveland rust-belt band built an enormous cult following before breaking up in 1982. They re-convened in 1988, and gained some MTV airplay with their second post-reunion album Cloudland. Countless lineup changes affected this edition of the band, with lead singer David Thomas the lone holdover, and much of their work from this era is dismissed even by their fans, who saw the band's increased tunefulness as a pop move. Ray Gun Suitcase, from 1995, was envisioned as a swan-song before breaking up again, and was a sop to those fans, by returning the band to the willful noise and strange lyricism of their first few albums. Notable for the inclusion of a bizarre acoustic version of the Beach Boys' "Surfer Girl", and "Vacuum In My Head", which recalled "30 Seconds Over Tokyo". The band didn't exactly break up afterwards; guitarist Tom Herman, present during their glory years, returned to the fold, and appeared on the 1998 album Pennsylvania, also re-issued this week by Cooking Vinyl. Newcomers to Pere Ubu should make a beeline for The Modern Dance, Dub Housing, and New Picnic Time. Completists will welcome the return to CD of these rare discs.
Sloan: One Chord To Another
Sloan were something of a hard luck band, if one of Canada's biggest successes can be described as hard-luck. Their problems stemmed from their relationship with their American label, DGC, which felt there was no market in America for Sloan's upbeat power-pop in the wake of the grunge explosion. Despite critical praise and a growing cult, DGC chose not to promote their albums, which led to fights with the band that almost saw them break up. DGC also wanted Sloan to dirty up their sound, to keep more in step with the times, a suggestion Sloan wisely ignored. The problem with DGC reached a head in late 1995, when the band abruptly cancelled the remainder of a tour in protest of DGC's non-promotion. Fortunately, the group reconvened in 1996 for One Chord To Another, their third and arguably best album, and managed to get EMI to release it in America in 1997. The album was praised for its updated power-pop sound and strong songwriting, gaining Sloan the recognition in America that had been denied to them by DGC. A 1997 version of the album also contained a bonus disc of live recordings, not included here. The leadoff track, "The Good In Everyone" is a fine example of their sophistication; while their charms are mostly melodic and harmonic, they are capable of interesting experimentation and a sense of humor. "The Good In Everyone" is presented as a mock-live cut, with screaming fans and DJ intro that recalls the Beatles ironically; the rest of the album lives up to the conceit. If you missed them the first time, this and their next album, Navy Blues, have been re-released by Koch.
Weekend Reissue Roundup is a weekly feature.
There was someone in my dream last night who went by the name of uao! Seeing as I don't know anyone else by this name, it must have been you!
I was always surprised by how good Sloan was. Canadian bands never seem to get proper recognition that they deserve! Well, I can think of two anyway.
You poor lady; hope I behaved myself in your dream.
I didn't discover Sloan until a few years ago, but once I did I had 'em playing repeatedly for awhile. I should have included them on my Canadian rock playlist, but I plumb forgot.
That's a great Canadian rock playlist. Have you ever heard of The Tea Party? They're a really good Canadian rock band who have been around since the early 90's (i think..).
You behaved in the dream, as far as I can remember. All I remember is you correcting people on how to say 'uao'.
I meant to ask you if they pronounced it right ;)Post a Comment
I've not heard of the Tea Party; I'll take a look for some. I've been going through a 're-eximining the 90's' phase lately (not just music, but everything), and I'm also friendly to and sympathetic with Canada. Might be the right music at the right time, you never know...