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Fleetwood Mac

Rumours (Expanded Edition)

(Warner Bros. / Rhino)

Review [7.Feb.2013]

10


Fleetwood Mac
Rumours (Expanded Edition)


At this point, the narrative behind Fleetwood Mac‘s Rumours has lost its impact every time Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham appear on stage together and aren’t giving one another the death stare. Revisiting the album has a way of re-airing that dirty laundry, though. By going back to Rumours, one is reminded of just how strange it is that an album this personal—and it gets really personal at times—could be such a phenomenon. It all comes down to the unique talents of Buckingham and Nicks, a folk guitarist with an unbelievable musical ear and a singer who brought a strong, feminine perspective in a world filled with dudes playing songs about being dudes. Combined with the traditional rock backbone of the rhythm section, and it makes for a record that hits every single listener’s sweet spot, even as the main songwriters are spilling their guts right before your ears. Kevin Korber


 

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Scott Walker

The Collection 1967-1970

(Universal)

9


Scott Walker
The Collection 1967-1970


On the heels of Scott Walker‘s brilliant, twisted, and triumphant Bish Bosch, five of his early solo albums were repackaged and reissued in a glorious box set. In a move so bold it’s astonishing he was able to get away with it, the 24-year-old pop heartthrob left the lucrative Walker Brothers, set off on his own, embraced the music of Jacques Brel and the films of Ingmar Bergman, and created music that was as enigmatic as it was sumptuous. It’s a fascinating journey, from commercial success to outright failure (1968’s Scott 2 was a UK chart-topper, Scott 4 flopped a year later), from Walker’s embracing of traditionalism to his increased dabbling in the avant-garde. One moment he’s breathing vibrant new life into Brel standards “Amsterdam” and “Jackie”, and yet at other times “Such a Small Love” and “It’s Raining Today” hint at the stark atonality he’d explore late in his life. This set is a compelling look at a budding genius finding his voice, and better yet, the music therein continues to improve brilliantly with age. Adrien Begrand


 

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Shuggie Otis

Inspiration Information / Wings of Love

(Sony / Legacy)

Review [18.Apr.2013]

8


Shuggie Otis
Inspiration Information / Wings of Love


True story: Already an industry veteran although barely legal drinking age, Shuggie Otis was asked to join the Rolling Stones. Famously, he declined the offer. Had he accepted that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, two things are certain. One, he would have become wealthy and a household name. Two, many millions of people might have more easily discovered—and fallen under the spell of—his 1974 tour-de-force, Inspiration Information. There are a couple of basic questions fans, like this writer, have asked themselves for entirely too long. Why isn’t Shuggie Otis recognized by more people as a genius? And why isn’t Inspiration Information regarded as one of the best albums of the ‘70s? Otis, and his masterpiece, have belonged to the underground, enigmas that attract word-of-mouth followings each generation. Ultimately there are no good, or acceptable answers for why Otis has labored so long in semi-obscurity. He has, however, continued to work, and occasionally record. The arrival of this remastered version of Inspiration Information, along with an entire bonus disc of unreleased material, sheds overdue light on what he was doing while the time he could and should have owned ostensibly passed us all by. Sean Murphy


 

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The Breeders

(4AD)

7


The Breeders
LSXX (Last Splash 20th Anniversary Reissue)


The 20th anniversary reissue of the BreedersLast Splash only offers a reminder of how ageless a disc it is: So the LSXX package doesn’t include a remastered version of Last Splash because there’s no need to redo the classic album, considering that it still evokes that uncanny combination of sun-streaked glimmer and sweat-stained grit, intuitive craft and irreverent fun that you don’t need to enhance with after-the-fact studio trickery. What LSXX does represent is the ultimate document of a band that was actually in its prime when you thought it was just getting going at the time, as Kim Deal moved out of the Pixies’ shadow and the band restructured itself after Tanya Donnelly left to focus on Belly. While Last Splash obviously makes for the essential listening in the package, the bonus goodies served up on LSXX are hardly time-capsule ephemera, especially the short-form brilliance of the pre-Last Splash Safari EP and the 1994 10” Head to Toe. And that’s not to mention how the performances and demos provide snapshots of a vital live act both proficient and spontaneous, qualities that can’t help but still shine through after all these years. Arnold Pan


 

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The Velvet Underground

White Light/White Heat: 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition

(Universal)

Review [3.Dec.2013]

6


The Velvet Underground
White Light/White Heat: 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition


This definitive edition of the Velvet Underground‘s second album was in the works before Lou Reed passed away earlier this year, but to hear this album again, and to hear it in the context of all these fascinating extras, is to find the best way to honor Reed’s legacy. It is a perfect distillation of Reed’s musical approach. It’s difficult but never (or almost never) intentionally so. It’s aggressive but never nihilistic. It’s noisy but within that noise is beautiful sounds, brilliant songs. In the wake of the more restrained Velvet Underground and Nico, White Light/White Heat must have been a perplexing record to hear upon its release in January 1968. Nearly half a century later we’re still trying to figure it out, but this new edition gives us the most material to sift through, and perhaps the best pathway through this era in the band’s history. It reveals the band’s thorny, excellent vision for the album, and reminds us why music will miss a presence like Lou Reed for quite a while. White Light/White Heat is less a lofty experiment that keeps the listener out than a curious twisting of structures and conventions that lures them in. It’s songwriting and storytelling. It’s melody- and noise-making. It’s high art and low-brow punk. It’s all these things and none of them at once, as incongruous and inventive and fascinating as the man at the center of it all, Lou Reed. And if he made harder records later, none of them spoke to who he was as an artist, and what he would become, more than this one did. Matthew Fiander


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