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The Cut-Out Bin
In the old days of LPs, the cut-out bin was a trough of music-business effluvia, a collection of has-beens, misfires and record-label miscalculations. But if you were tuned out of musical trends, and had adventuresome tastes and could suspend judgment -- or if you were just cheap and constrained to bargain shopping -- you could dredge up some surprising finds from the mishmash, gems that could be treasured all the more for the improbability of your ever having stumbled upon them or for the independence it took to embrace them even though they had been ignored or reviled. In that same spirit, PopMatters writers share some of their finds, making the case for worthy-but-neglected discs rescued from the Cut-Out Bin of culture. May it inspire some searches of your own.
— Rob Horning

Thursday, September 15 2011

The Motels: Apocalypso

As far as lost albums go, Apocalypso may not exactly be Smile, but it ain’t no Chinese Democracy, either.


Thursday, February 25 2010

Labelle: Nightbirds / Phoenix / Chameleon

Before George Clinton and his P-Funk tribe disembarked from the Mothership, Labelle was already flying a few stratospheres above the popular music landscape.


Wednesday, June 10 2009

Wheat: Medeiros / Hope and Adams

It would be tremendously heartening to view the Rebel Group's reissues of these albums as a corrective measure to the attention and praise that eluded them at the time.


Wednesday, September 24 2008

The Misfits’ American Psycho (1997)

This Danzig-less "reunion" album from the most recognized brand in horror rock isn't nearly as bad as you'd expect.


Thursday, April 3 2008

Judgment Night: Music from the Motion Picture (1993)

A look at the album that may have spawned rap rock and that supplies the missing link between Biohazard and Emilio Estevez.


Wednesday, March 26 2008

Youngblood Brass Band: Center:Level:Roar

As a new generation continues to reshape traditional ensembles from big band to chamber and play it punk by adopting pop, it's useful to go back and marvel at one of the albums that truly innovated in this new-jack band geek era.


Wednesday, March 5 2008

Marillion, Afraid of Sunlight

Having made a name as prog-rock revivalists in the '80s, Marillion then lost its singer and slid slowly into semi-obscurity, the band responded with a dark album that assessed the fallout of fame.


Wednesday, February 27 2008

Souled American,  Around the Horn (1990)

Chicago’s Souled American's album, Around the Horn, may be the most uniquely beautiful alt-country album you’ve never heard.


Wednesday, January 30 2008

Al Kooper, New York City (You’re a Woman) (1971)

This album features some of the best of Kooper's original compositions and is free of his tendency to include reinterpretations of over-familiar songs.


Wednesday, January 2 2008

Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper, Bo-Day-Shus!!! (1987)

Two decades later, Bo-Day-Shus!!! stands as the ultimate musical document of America's '80s love affair with redneck culture.


Thursday, October 18 2007

Monty Python’s Matching Tie and Handkerchief

Humor is a funny thing. Here to prove it are three Monty Python albums, revealing the revolutionary constructs of their work, the dangers of self-parody, and, well, something completely different.


Thursday, October 4 2007

Losing California

After the Mamas and the Papas, unheralded songwriter John Phillips released one perfect solo album before disintegrating into addiction and self-recrimination.


Tuesday, October 2 2007

Fire Engines: Hungry Beat

Cowbell-crazed, no-wave noised, robot-funk grooves from the short-lived Scottish band best known for inspiring Franz Ferdinand. Even the most cursory listen provides that they were much, much more interesting than that.


Tuesday, September 11 2007

Reg King: Reg King

One of the great lost '60s pop and soul also-rans, Reg King's only solo album is a murky snapshot of the dissolution of musical promise as an industry rolled on by, but remains a rawly emotional experience.


Thursday, August 23 2007

Howard Devoto: Jerky Versions of The Dream

Erudite perspectives on the romantic dream from a shape-shifting man-insect who left punk before we knew it existed. Awkwardness has never sounded so varied, cinematic, stupid and sexual.


Wednesday, August 8 2007

Alice Cooper, Love It to Death

Love It to Death is the beginning of Alice Cooper as we know him, with his storytelling bent and Ezrin's drapes of the epic. From there Cooper got more external about the nature of evil in his stage shows and symbols.


Wednesday, August 1 2007

Robyn Hitchcock: Storefront Hitchcock / Jewels for Sophia

These reissues of two late '90s Robyn Hitchcock albums find the surrealist singer-songwriter in prime form.


Tuesday, July 24 2007

Karen Dalton: In My Own Time

Just as the ambiguous details surrounding Nick Drake's death led people to exhaustively make his sorrow sacred, Karen Dalton was soul country's undiscovered Ophelia.


Thursday, June 21 2007

Hall & Oates, Abandoned Luncheonette (1973)

Before their string of ubiquitous 1980s hits, this songwriting duo wrote surprisingly strange and pleasantly unpretentious soft rock.


Thursday, June 14 2007

The Only Ones, Special View (1979)

The Only Ones' Peter Perrett was power pop's Baudelaire, assailing city life with delirious, love-struck curses.


Thursday, June 7 2007

Boz Scaggs, Silk Degrees (1976)

The former Steve Miller Band sideman teams up with the musicians who would become Toto to enact the birth of the smooth.


Thursday, October 12 2006

The Gravel Pit, Silver Gorilla (1999)

Though professedly inspired by polysemy and pretentiousness, this neglected Boston band makes guitar pop that doesn’t require a second thought to enjoy.


The Beach Boys, Love You (1977)

Essentially a Brian Wilson solo effort, on which the ravaged, troubled genius takes a few more painful steps toward a purifying simplicity.


Iggy Pop and James Williamson,  Kill City (1977)

This cinematic album, which captures the drugged myopia of the denizens of mid-1970s Los Angeles, nevertheless furthered Iggy’s own convalescence after years of addiction.


Friday, July 28 2006

The Cut-Out Bin #7: Stan Ridgway, Mosquitos (Geffen, 1989)

The former Wall of Voodoo frontman's noirish solo album is a novelistic suite about the promise and peril of the American West.


The Cut-Out Bin #7: Claudine Longet, Claudine (A&M, 1967)

The coy first album by the best of the broken-English chanteuses.


The Cut-Out Bin #7: 10cc, How Dare You! (1976)

Lurking just below the goofy comedy, the mishmash of genres and the studio gimmickry of this last album by the band's original lineup is a pervasive, inconsolable sense of disconnection.


Friday, May 19 2006

The Cut-Out Bin #6: Too Much Joy, Cereal Killers (1991)

A classic album from a punk power-pop band that made the mistake of making listeners laugh.


The Cut-Out Bin #6: Dennis DeYoung, Desert Moon (1984)

Mock Styx's keyboard-playing frontman as a second-rate Elton John with an unfortunate taste for both bombast and treacle if you must. But his solo record resounds with something even rarer than good songs: humility.


The Cut-Out Bin #6: Bright Eyes, Digital Ash in a Digital Urn (2005)

Generally viewed as a less-than-stellar offering from an otherwise promising young songwriter, the neglected cousin of I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning is actually a challenging meditation on the dual nature of time.


Thursday, February 9 2006

The Cut-Out Bin #5: Genevieve Waite, Romance Is on the Rise (1974)

After the Mamas and the Papas, John Phillips found his muse in this South African model-actress and indulged her wish to become a singer. The result? This rarely heard record of campy cabaret.


The Cut-Out Bin #5: George Michael, Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1 (1990)

After 'Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go', maybe this record's title asked too much. Still, this song cycle has the ambition of Stevie Wonder's 1970s work and Michael nearly had the talent to pull it off.


The Cut-Out Bin #5: The Carpenters, The Carpenters (1971)

Forget horror-core and death metal, the most terrifying and emotionally exhausting album ever made may be this soft-pop classic.


Wednesday, February 8 2006

The Carpenters, The Carpenters (1971)

Forget horror-core and death metal, the most terrifying and emotionally exhausting album ever made may be this soft-pop classic.


Genevieve Waite, Romance Is on the Rise (1974)

After the Mamas and the Papas, John Phillips found his muse in this South African model-actress and indulged her wish to become a singer. The result? This rarely heard record of campy cabaret.


George Michael, Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1 (1990)

After "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go", maybe this record's title asked too much. Still, this song cycle has the ambition of Stevie Wonder's 1970s work and Michael nearly had the talent to pull it off.


Friday, November 11 2005

The Cut-Out Bin #4: Tulip Sweet and Her Trail of Tears, Tossed (2000)

Drunk, raunchy country punk from a Minnesota woman who doesn't seem to give a shit.


The Cut-Out Bin #4: The Psychedelic Furs, Tossed (2000)

Conventional wisdom has it that the Furs failed to recapture the glory of their early sound on this late-career effort. That's true -- they succeeded in creating a different kind of magic altogether.


The Cut-Out Bin #4: Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Don’t Stand Me Down (1985)

His lone American hit 'Come on Eileen' made chief Dexy Kevin Rowland seem a one-note, barefoot-ragamuffin cliché. But his most brilliant work would come after he ditched the rags and the better portion of his fans.


Thursday, November 10 2005

Tulip Sweet and Her Trail of Tears, Tossed (2000)

Drunk, raunchy country punk from a Minnesota woman who doesn't seem to give a shit.


Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Don’t Stand Me Down (1985)

His lone American hit "Come on Eileen" made chief Dexy Kevin Rowland seem a one-note, barefoot-ragamuffin cliché. But his most brilliant work would come after he ditched the rags and the better portion of his fans.


The Psychedelic Furs, Book of Days (1989)

Conventional wisdom has it that the Furs failed to recapture the glory of their early sound on this late-career effort. That's true -- they succeeded in creating a different kind of magic altogether.


Friday, October 7 2005

The Cut-Out Bin #3: Roger Waters, Radio K.A.O.S. (1987)

Waters's most ambitious post-Pink Floyd project, this apocalyptic polemic about media technology, belligerent foreign policy and energy crises sounds all too prescient.


The Cut-Out Bin #3: Loverboy, Loverboy (1980)

On their debut, these Canadian poodle-rock maestros perfected the music of pseudo-rebellion, ideal for the spate of teenage mallrats flush with their first spending money.


The Cut-Out Bin #3: Archers of Loaf, White Trash Heroes (1998)

This burst of fin-de-siècle exhaustion, paranoia and malaise anticipated 21st century angst with uncanny accuracy. Unfortunately for these post-grunge indie stalwarts, OK Computer did it first.


Thursday, August 18 2005

The Cut-Out Bin #2: Holly Beth Vincent, Holly and the Italians (1982)

This prototype female rocker also went to England to launch a career, but her records had no impact stateside. Meet the Chrissy Hynde who could have been.


The Cut-Out Bin #2: Ten Wheel Drive with Genya Ravan, Construction #1 (1969)

Often compared to Janis Joplin, Genya Ravan, Ten Wheel Drive's powerhouse vocalist, deserves her own spotlight.


The Cut-Out Bin #2: Soundtrack, Lost Boys (1987)

MTV's success in the 1980s led inevitably to teen 'films' that were really stitched-together music videos. This was one of the best of the resulting soundtracks, proving that while some genre music can be exclusionary, crap is universal.


Friday, July 15 2005

The Cut-Out Bin #1: The Wild Swans, Space Flower (1990)

This Liverpool band released its psychedelic sophomore effort at precisely the wrong time, getting lost in the indie upheaval that grunge triggered.


The Cut-Out Bin #1: Bob Welch, French Kiss (1977)

Remembering 1977: Welch's exquisitely sleazy sellout evokes all the era's cliches, the cocaine spoons and key parties, anonymous discotheque sex and the empty promises made in hot tubs while the 8-track of this album repeats and repeats, 'Sentimental lady, gentle one'.


The Cut-Out Bin #1: Jane Siberry, The Speckless Sky (1985)

This Canadian songwriter epitomized quirkiness in the mid-1980s, garnering her a few hits in her homeland and total obscurity abroad.


Sunday, January 1 1995

The Cut-Out Bin #7

Stan Ridgway's neo-noir Western, the heightened contradictions of 10cc, and Claudine Longet, the best of the broken-English chanteuses.


The Cut-Out Bin #6

This month, Conor Oberst's philosophical investigations, how Too Much Joy was cursed with comedy, and a humble offering from Styx's Dennis DeYoung.


The Cut-Out Bin #5

George Michael demands the impossible with Listen Without Prejudice, John Phillips's mid-'70s muse, and sweet suffocation from the Carpenters.


The Cut-Out Bin #4

Raunchy Minnesota country punk from Tulip Sweet, the Psychedelic Furs late-career resurrection, and why Dexy's Midnight Runners should not be seen as one-hit wonders.


The Cut-Out Bin #3

Fin-de-siècle paranoia from Archers of Loaf, Loverboy's mall-friendly poodle rock and Roger Waters's vision of how Live Aid may have prevented nuclear annihilation.


The Cut-Out Bin #2

Holly Beth Vincent, bluesy belter Genya Ravan, and the sublime idiocy of The Lost Boys soundtrack.


The Cut-Out Bin #1

post-Bunnymen guitar pop by the Wild Swans, the quintessentially quirky Canadian songwriter Jane Siberry, and soft-rock sleaze from ex-Fleetwood Mac guitarist Bob Welch.


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