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Bill Hicks

Bill Hicks: The Essential Collection

(Ryko; US: 14 Sep 2010)

Honorable Mention


Bill Hicks
Bill Hicks: The Essential Collection


Like most great prophets, Bill Hicks was taken from us long before his time, and awareness of his work has grown exponentially every year since his death. He left behind a significant body of work, whose continued relevancy, despite ever more dated references to politicians and celebrities removed from the spotlight, is a testament to just how insightful he was. Though there are few remaining stones left unturned in his estate’s vaults, this Essential Collection managed to uncover a few pearls, while completely living up to its name. The two CDs here represent a greatest hits, so to speak, forging practically all of Bill’s best bits into the form of the greatest rock & roll, stand-up philosophy set of all-time. These CDs are not only a good starting point for anyone new to Bill’s amazing work, but they hold up as the only Hicks ‘set’ anyone needs. Also included is a two-DVD set containing some of Hick’s earliest material, selections from his prime in the early ‘90s, and his only appearance in film, a short titled Ninja Bachelor Party. Alan Ranta


 

 


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Modest Mouse

Sad Sappy Sucker (Reissue)

(Glacial Pace; US: 14 Nov 2010; UK: 14 Nov 2010)


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Modest Mouse

The Fruit That Ate Itself (Reissue)

(Glacial Pace; US: 14 Nov 2010; UK: 14 Nov 2010)

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Modest Mouse
Sad Sappy Sucker / The Fruit That Ate Itself


Sad Sappy Sucker was originally intended to be Modest Mouse’s debut album, and The Fruit That Ate Itself was initially released as an EP of non-album tracks from The Lonesome Crowded West years. Isaac Brock reissued both releases on his own Glacial Pace label, giving fans a chance to view the records in a sort of continuum, an aural history of Modest Mouse’s strikingly rapid evolution. The songs on Sucker sound mostly like a series of interesting sketches, displaying Brock’s melodic talent and restless creativity but not yet the refinement of his skills that would bring the band unparalleled critical acclaim soon thereafter. Fruit, on the other hand, sees just that—Brock and Modest Mouse have figured it out. The EP has the band trying on a number of different styles, from the sharp and acidic squall of “Dirty Fingernails” to the trippy dub of the title track, and finding them all a perfect fit. Both Sucker and Fruit give evidence of a band driven by a tremendous vision to constantly refine its artistic sensibilities. Corey Beasley


 

 



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Paul McCartney & Wings

Band on the Run (Special Edition)

(Concord; US: 2 Nov 2010; UK: 1 Nov 2010)

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Paul McCartney & Wings
Band on the Run (Special Edition)


In 1998, Band on the Run was remastered and reissued for its 25th Anniversary, which, even 12 years on, might beg the question, “Why another reissue?” The 2010 reissue is the first release in the Paul McCartney Archive Collection, and right away it’s clear the newly remastered sound is more than reason enough for its existence. It’s a revelation of fuller sounds and previously unheard flourishes. Then there are the extras. In addition to a single-disc Standard Edition, which is simply the nine original tracks, there’s a 2CD/1DVD Special Edition and a 3CD/1DVD Deluxe Edition containing a wealth of collectibles. The second CD consists of nine bonus audio tracks, including the rare, unreleased One Hand Clapping 1974 television special and newly remastered versions of the singles and B-sides. The third CD is a previously released audio documentary. The DVD features behind-the-scenes footage, promo clips and video of One Hand Clapping. Thirty-seven years after it was recorded, Band on the Run is still McCartney’s best-loved post-Beatles album, and this new version, fittingly, gives fans even more to love. Christel Loar


 

 



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Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsbourg

Jane Birkin/Serge Gainsbourg

(Light in the Attic; US: 24 Aug 2010; UK: 23 Aug 2010)

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Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsbourg
Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsbourg


Less than two years before unabashedly courting accusations of pedophilia with his 1971 masterwork Histoire de Melody Nelson, legendary French provocateur Serge Gainsbourg was already turning heads with this erotically-charged collaboration with then lover and muse Jane Birkin. Thrust into the mainstream conversation on the back of its hotly-tipped lead single, “Je t’aime… moi non plus”—which features the budding actress further igniting her tabloid-riddled status through a climatic bridge of salaciously delivered cries of ecstasy—this self-titled pairing moves swiftly between Gainsbourg’s many impulses (see both those winking, cheese-rock guitar solos and pervasive soft-core sax stylings), shedding genres like last night’s clothing and utilizing Birkin as a mouthpiece to both titillate and politically castigate. Reissued for the very first time in the United States this past spring, over four decades since its initial release, this milestone in the careers of its creators has proven vital not only as an excellent collection of songs, but as a missing link between Gainsbourg’s jazz-tinged, yé-yé popularizing early work and his more (im)purely chanson-traced ‘70s material. Forty years later it still holds all the unknown pleasures of wide-eyed adolescence and innocence lost. Jordan Cronk


 

 



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Various Artists

Apple Records Box Set

(EMI; US: 25 Oct 2010; UK: 25 Oct 2010)

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Various Artists
Apple Records Box Set


Say what you will about the absence of such staples as the first Elephant’s Memory LP and the soundtrack to El Topo, this 17-disc box set chronciling the six-year run of the Beatles’ storied boutique imprint Apple Records is as good as it gets. The label was launched by the Fabs in 1968 to escape the clutches of the major label wrecking machine and showcase their wildly diverse tastes in music. That is all gathered together here in one massive collection.  From the junkie folk of James Taylor’s little-known eponymous debut to the infectious AOR of Badfinger’s quartet of classic albums and from the funky Godmusic of “fifth Beatle” Billy Preston to the powerhouse soul of Bronx-born London session diva Doris Troy, there’s some major eclecticism on display. But there’s more: the devotional psychedelia of the Radha Krishna Temple, the askew tuxedo bop of the Modern Jazz Quartet, and the smattering of one-off singles from the likes of Ronnie Spector, Hot Chocolate, Brute Force and the Sundown Playboys collected for a single-disc label best-of. This is the perfect addition to the library of obsessive Beatles scholars the world over. Ron Hart


 

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Dexys Midnight Runners

Searching for the Young Soul Rebels (30th Anniversary Edition)

(EMI; US: Available as import; UK: 18 Oct 2010)

Review [2.Dec.2010]

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Dexys Midnight Runners
Searching for the Young Soul Rebels (30th Anniversary Edition)


Though known in the US as one-hit wonders for their ragamuffin-era “Come on Eileen”, Dexys Midnight Runners had already released a stunning debut that tapped into their love of soul music. On EMI’s 30th Anniversary deluxe edition of Searching for the Young Soul Rebels, Dexys Midnight Runners may finally see the record set straight and have the band regarded as more than mere flashes in the pan. Frontman Kevin Rowland has always been something of a dandy, and his histrionic vocal affectations at the very least make for a unique take on soul singing. But by god, it works. When the horns signal the opening of “Burn It Down”, following nearly a minute of radio tuning with nods to the Sex Pistols and the Specials, it’s clear this blue-eyed soul gem is at the very least going to be loads of fun the likes of which Paul Weller himself didn’t manage to capture nearly as effectively over any single album with the Style Council.


Searching for the Young Soul Rebels is one of those albums the Brits can’t seem to heap enough praise upon. Its status as a lost gem is slightly disingenuous, as the album hit #6 on the UK charts back in 1980. But in the wake of the worldwide success of follow-up Too-Rye-Ay, Searching for the Young Soul Rebels was sort of lost in the shuffle. Hearing it now, in its glorious 2010 reissue, Searching for the Young Soul Rebels is hardly groundbreaking. Its organ stabs and walls of brass weren’t just soul retro, but on ominous instrumental “The Teams That Meet in Caffs” are one skank guitar away from the Two-Tone sound that at the time had the UK firmly in its grip. But what the album does successfully manage is to capture the sweaty throb of a live soul revue. “Geno”, the album’s best known track and a UK #1, is a stormer on its own, but followed on the album by “Seven Days Too Long”, is clearly part of a single glorious statement. Dexys Midnight Runners soon became way more popular than this, but they were never any better.


While deluxe reissues often come off as barrel scraping cash grabs, Searching for the Young Soul Rebels is the essential version of an album that 30 years on is the very definition of “classic”. A terrific bounty of alternate cuts, b-sides, demos and radio sessions, the bonus material is in perfect alignment with the album. Such was the strength of their material that the staggering lament of “I’m Just Looking” was relegated to a b-side. A few of the covers aren’t going to make one forget the originals—“Hold on, I’m Comin’” in particular—but they at least show the band was the real deal. Crispin Kott


 
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