Archive for December, 2010

The Best Reissues of 2010

Last year’s top reissues, all ranked by readers and contributors to The Rising Storm, were from an excellent lot. The best of these included some Mono Beatles, Archives from Neil Young and Big Star, and of course the Elevators’ Sign of the Three Eyed Men. This year we have another fine selection of warranted releases from an ever expanding crew of dedicated labels dishing out vintage sounds.

In order to shine a light on some lesser known gems, we’re deliberately excluding a few of this year’s heavy hitters.  Don’t miss out on these big name essentials and box sets:

So with those out of the way, here are our favorite reissued records for 2010, unranked and submitted for your review in the poll below:

Spur “Spur Of The Moments”
Drag City MP3/FLAC/Vinyl”Cowboy rock” from 67-72 Illinois. Offered on vinyl FLAC and MP3 formats (no CD).  A good one to own if you’re into Moby Grape, The Byrds or Buffalo Springfield. read our review…
The Rationals “Fan Club Album”
Big Beat CD/VinylRare and coveted release from the most important early Detroit/Ann Arbor group. Restored tracklist (save for one cut) and detailed liner notes. read our review…
R. Stevie Moore “Phonography”
Sundazed VinylFirst full length LP from an underground hero. HD Vinyl pressing comes with restored Vital artwork and insert. read our review…
The Orkustra “Adventures in Experimental Electric”
Mexican Summer LP/MP3Bobby Beausoleil’s mid-sixties psychedelic experiment explores unusual instrumentation as “the first electric symphony orchestra”
Maffit/Davies “The Rise and Fall of Honesty”
Revola CDA visionary slice of American music that predates the alt. country/folk boom with dark lyrics, strings, and a vibe similar to Texas band Euphoria. Includes liner notes by Tim Forster. read our review…
Ted Lucas “The Om Album”
Yoga Records/Riverman CD/LPLost and found psychedelic folk solo with a remarkably current sound. CD comes in a faithfully reproduced LP-style package with a facsimile of the original insert and new liners. read our review…
Jim Sullivan “UFO”
Light in the Attic CD/LP/MP3″ Ultra rare 1969 private press psych-folk-rock masterpiece – featuring the legendary Wrecking Crew (Beach Boys, Phil Spector)” First time on CD, LP reissue comes with detailed liners.
Luke Gibson “Another Perfect Day”
True North CD/MP3Long thought of as one of the best singer songwriter albums to come out of Canada. Digital download includes 2 bonus tracks. read our review…
The Psychedelic Aliens “Psycho African Beat”
Academy Records CD/Vinyl/MP3″Voodoo Funk tracked down the complete recorded output of this Ghana group that combined
elements of American soul, funk, garage rock
and psych with African rhythms and melodies. LP packaging includes booklet.”
Up “Rising”
Applebush CD/MP3″The real precursors of punk. Complete recordings, deluxe packaging includes DVD of unseen film plus a set of facsimile gig flyers, extensive liner notes and never before seen photographs of the band.”
The Zakary Thaks “Passage to India”
Cicadelic CDUnreleased recordings of the Thak’s psychedelic exursion. CD includes twenty-page booklet of recollections by lead singer Chris Gerniottis plus rare band memorabilia, posters, and lyrics.
The Third Power “Believe”
Relics CDHard psychedelic rock from early 70s Detroit. Originally released on Vanguard in 1970 and now reissued by Relics on Digipak CD.
Scott Richard Case “SRC”
Micro Werks CD”The long out of print CD by the SRC. One of Michigan s psychedelic gems, the band remains a favorite along side MC5, The Amboy Dukes, and the Stooges.”
Moby Grape “Live 1966-1969”
Sundazed Vinyl/CDNo Live Grape  has ever been officially released with such pristine sound quality. David Fricke’s notes are the icing on the cake. read our review…
The Knickerbockers “One Track Mind”
Grapefruit CD”The definitive, all-killer-no-filler compilation of thirty original Knickerbockers artifacts from the first psychedelic era.”
The Index “Black Album/Red Album/Yesterday & Today”
Lion CD”Three LPs worth of rare psychedelia from The Index – the uber rare Black Album and Red Album on one disc, and the epic length Yesterday And Today set of newly discovered rarities on the second disc”
Kris Kristofferson “Publishing Demos 1968-1972”
Light in the Attic CD/2LP/MP3″A selection of Kristofferson’s unreleased demos from the late 1960s and early ‘70s. Includes 60-page full-color CD booklet featuring interviews with Kristofferson and the musicians.”
Blaze Foley “The Dawg Years”
Fat Possum CD/MP3A collection of 20 Foley songs, cut during three home studio sessions between February of 1976 and September of 1978. Some of Foley’s first recordings that have been unheard for 25 years.
Steve Young “Rock Salt & Nails”
Big Pink CDSteve Young’s first solo record is adventurous, way ahead of its time, and gorgeous. A masterful production combining outlaw country, rock, folk, blues, and a touch of gospel. Long out of print, this is a Korean pressing in a paper sleeve. read our review…
Various Artists “Troubled Troubadours”
Omni Recording CDRare classic country from the likes of Hank, Waylon, Porter, and Dolly. Most tracks unreleased. Collector’s edition includes liner notes and rare photos.
Various Artists “Local Customs: Lone Star Lowlands”
Numero Group CD/LP/MP3″Southern boogie rock, CSNY clones, British blues thunder, garage-psych hangovers from Beaumont Texas’ Lowland studio. Limited bonus CD includes 20 extra songs.”
Space Opera “Safe at Home”
101 Distribution CD”2010 archive release from the Texas Prog legends consisting of tracks that were recorded before and immediately after their debut album in 1970.”
Richard & Linda Thompson “Shoot Out the Lights”
Rhino Handmade Deluxe CD”The couple’s legendary swan song as a two-disc deluxe edition that includes the original album along with a bonus disc of 11 unreleased live performances from the tour.”

Top Reissues of 2010 (Choose up to 5)

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Q. Anything we missed from your list this year?
Note: This is our 500th post!

Tripsichord “Tripsichord”

This notorious San Fransisco group is known to have toured in the late 60’s/early 70’s as “the fake Moby Grape” – a marketing scam created by the evil Matthew Katz, who himself was trying to capitalize on the legendary Grape’s short-lived success.

Tripsichord (also referred to as the Tripsichord Music Box) was actually a fine band, a real group too, who would go on to release a very good album in 1970.  Prior to their sole album (a Janus label release), the group recorded material for Katz that ended up on the Fifth Pipe Dream compilation.  These cuts are solid SF acid rock – heavy on intensity and dark aura, brooding harmony vocals and great guitar work.

Their only LP release is a midpoint between the psych sounds of early Quicksilver Messenger Service and Moby Grape’s shorter, more concise material – psych influenced rural rock/folk rock with plenty of stoned ruminations and lots of melodic guitar work – the classic SF sound.  Regarding the Tripsichord album, Fuzz, Acid & Flower’s Clark Faville added, “their self-titled album (recorded in 1969) proves conclusively that they alone carried the torch during that year that was once shared by Quicksilver Messenger Service, Frumious Bandersnatch and Moby Grape. The Tripsichord album is essentially what the world was hoping Shady Grove would be! The record is an embarrassing wealth of riches both musically and in its dark and menacing lyrical imagery. The dual guitar interplay on this under-rated gem is as good as anything by the three groups mentioned and has stood the test of time well.”   If the album has a weak spot, it’s “Short Order Steward,” a boring blues jam that’s nearly rescued by fine guitar soloing.   The remaining cuts are excellent.  “Fly Baby” and “Black Door” are two of the better unknown SF psych cuts (Fly Baby features great tribal rhythms) while the album’s last cut, “Everlasting Joy,” lifts off with inspired guitar leads.  Other gems are the relaxed country rock of  “We Have Passed On” and the mystical musings of “Narrow Way.”  If you’re interested in hearing this unsung band’s music, the Akarma reissue is probably the best bet.  Besides including the album in its entirety, this disc also features the Fifth Pipe Dream tracks along with Tripsichord’s two 45s.  A very classy reissue with lots of great music.

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“Black Door”

;) MP3 Album | 2010 | Akarma | download here ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1971 | Janus | search ebay ]
8-) Spotify link | listen ]

Don Van Vliet

uReview: “Nilsson Sings Newman”

12345678910 (35 votes, average: 8.60 out of 10)

Today is a day to remember John Lennon, but I just finished the watching the 2006 biopic on his good pal, Harry Schmilsson. Maybe I’m just a big Nilsson fan, but I thought Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?) was moving, revealing, an excellent film; every great artist deserves a tribute this devoted. But when they got to Nilsson Sings Newman I remembered that I never really fell for this record, for whatever reason.

Q. Am I missing out on a knockout LP? Does Harry really improve on Newman’s tunes? Why wouldn’t I just listen to Randy sing em? Have you seen the doc and what’d you think?

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“Livin’ Without You”

:D Deluxe CD Reissue | 2008 | buy here ]
:) Original Vinyl | RCA | 1970  | search ebay ]
8-) Spotify link | listen ]

Zerfas “Zerfas”

Until recently this one was completely unknown to me; I bought it after reading a glowing recommendation from a Rising Storm commenter (nice to see the process working in both directions.) Gratifyingly, it turned out to be as good as its reputation.

It’s better still for being a vanity release from a bunch of unsigned but clearly precociously talented teenagers. It was lovingly cut over six months in 1973 at the tiny 700 West Studio in New Palestine, Indiana, using a four-track 3M recorder, plenty of overdubs, a lot of homemade wine and a hell of a lot of creative ingenuity. There’s no need for me to give a detailed historical perspective of the band, the album or the studio here, because it’s all available at the excellent website dedicated to 700 West and I couldn’t improve on that compiler’s excellent job.

Interestingly, the band members chose to add colour to their 1969-British-prog-rock style songs with the techniques of 1967 psychedelia, and the album stands as a fine psych/prog artefact despite being several years behind the timeline. The fun starts with “You Never Win”, which opens with a fade-in backwards version of the closing fade-out – a simple but brilliant idea. “I Don’t Understand” launches with an eerie half-speed recording of small children’s voices, whilst the meandering instrumental heart of “Hope” is washed by shoreline effects. Much use is made elsewhere of backwards voices, backwards instruments, fade-outs, fade-ins, wild stereo panning, ring modulators, tape loops and leftfield echo effects, and even a blast from an elkhorn. However, the underlying compositions don’t rely solely on these touches for interest; the eight songs, all originals, offer an engaging variety of styles from the “Born To Be Wild” knockoff of “You Never Win” through the cosmic boogie of “Stoney Wellitz” to the lush progressive soundscapes of “Hope”, culminating in “The Piper” which appropriately recalls Pink Floyd’s earliest stoner offerings. The playing and singing are excellent throughout, especially considering the tender ages of the musicians; Herman Zerfas’s keyboards in particular are exceptional.

The word on the street among other reviewers of this album is that it’s the record the Beatles might have made if they’d stuck with the psychedelic formula after Pepper. Personally, I don’t buy this; these youthful compositions lack the distinctively whimsical signatures of the mature Lennon, McCartney and Harrison. To my ears there’s some Floyd influence, some Grape, some Dead, some Steppenwolf, some Allmans, maybe even some Steve Miller, but really such comparisons are unnecessary. This is a fine album by a fine band in its own right, and should be respected as such.

Finally, be sure to ignore the CD release by Radioactive, which is purportedly mastered from vinyl and has a poor sound to suit. The Digipak CD from Lion Records of Germany is another bootleg to be avoided.

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“Stoney Wellitz”

:) Vinyl Reissue | 2008 | Phoenix | buy here ]

White Noise “An Electric Storm”

One of the strangest releases of 1969 was this collaboration between David Vorhaus, an American orchestral double-bass player and composer with a background in avant-garde classical music, and Delia Derbyshire and Brian Hodgson, a pair of sound-effects engineers from the BBC’s Radiophonic workshop, providers of themes and incidental sounds for such shows as Out Into Space and Doctor Who. What drew these unlikely bedfellows together was a shared desire to create experimental electronic art music, at a time when Bob Moog’s early experiments in the US were still barely getting off the ground and available electronic sound generators were limited to military surplus oscillators and simple home-built circuits. The process involved endlessly overlaid electronic tones, percussion, vocal tracks and found sounds, assembled into recognisable pieces via hundreds of tape edits on a bank of six two-track Revoxes.

So what has all this to do with rock’n’roll? Well, the demos produced by Vorhaus and Co. stirred unexpected interest from Chris Blackwell, the innovative proprietor of Island, the burgeoning UK psychedelic/progressive music independent. As a result of its release on that respected imprint, the ensuing album, which took a year to assemble, was taken up by the most hardcore of those admirers of trippy sounds who’d already got past early Pink Floyd, Zappa, the Nice and other leftfield pioneers from the world of rock and who were prepared to tolerate the lack of rock instrumentation and flowing hair in the pursuit of true psychedelic weirdness.

A friend played me this album soon after its release, and I promptly declared it unlistenable. (Mind you, I’d also just declared Lennon’s “Revolution 9” and Zappa’s Freak Out unlistenable, so that’s where I was at the time.) Forty years later my liberalised ears find these recordings irresistible. I know it’s a cliché, but this record truly is unlike anything else; probably the nearest thing to it is The United States Of America’s eponymous opus from the previous year, which similarly marries electronics, avant-garde composition and general strangeness but lacks the peculiarly British whimsy, emotional gamut and outrageous sonic variety of An Electric Storm.

Of the seven tracks, only the first five manage to approach conventional song structures. Four of these are quirky love songs involving various permutations of synthesised accompaniments with Ute Lemper-like vocals, the highlight being the simulated group orgasm voiced by a group of male and female vocalists on “My Game Of Loving”. By contrast “Here Come The Fleas” is a charming comic interlude reminiscent of the Floyd’s “Several Species of Small Furry Animals”, festooned with electronic bleeps, clicks and boings. Thereafter, any resemblance between the remaining tracks and music as conventionally understood in terms of harmonic structures is purely accidental. The lengthy, maudlin but beautifully-constructed “The Visitation” chronicles in cinematic fashion the revisiting of “the girl with roses in her eyes” by her deceased biker lover, while the closing “Black Mass: An Electric Storm In Hell” starts with a cod-Black Magic chant which segues into a full-blown, percussion-driven electronic rendering of a hurricane; its seven minutes were allegedly constructed in one evening when Island became impatient for the album’s completion.

If all this sounds difficult, that’s because it undoubtedly is. It’s also compulsive, fascinating and occasionally mind-blowing, and successive CD reissues in 1994 and 2007 indicate that there’s still a market of brave souls out there willing to give it a go. Are you brave enough?

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“Your Hidden Dreams”

:D CD Reissue | 2007 | Universal | buy here ]
:) Original Vinyl | 1969 | Island | search ebay ]