The Cut-Out Bin #1 [15 July 2005]
Every year thousands of new albums are released. A handful of these are strongly promoted and widely reviewed, and lodge in our collective memory as the significant records of an era. The rest slowly drift into those used CD racks at the back of record stores or the ad hoc shelves of close-out discounters and thrift stores to be largely forgotten, if they were even noticed in the first place. There, they join the music industry’s miscalculations, those huge-run sure-fire hits that missed, as well as the consumer cast-offs and the albums sold back in a post-fad hangover, after fashions have shifted and the zeal for hyped bands evaporates. In the old days of LPs, this trough of music-business effluvia was often called the Cut-Out Bin, for the albums that were notched and marked down for resale after they’d been returned to the manufacturer. If you were tuned out of musical trends, had an open mind, liked to indulge 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 courage it took to embrace them even though they had been publicly reviled. In this new recurring feature, PopMatters writers share some of their finds, the worthy-but-neglected albums rescued from the Cut-Out Bin of culture, and make the case for their continued relevance. Hopefully it will inspire some slag-pile searches of your own.
Jane Siberry, The Speckless Sky (1985)
by Scott McLatchy
This Canadian songwriter epitomized quirkiness in the mid-1980s, garnering her a few hits in her homeland and total obscurity abroad.
>“Few Canadian artists, even the best ones, have ever done much to counter American perceptions of their country as a cold, rural, simple place with nice scenery.” ever done much to counter American perceptions of their country as a cold, rural, simple place with nice scenery.”
The Wild Swans, Space Flower (1989)
by John Bergstrom
Unfortunately for this Liverpool guitar-pop band, it released its psychedelic sophomore effort at precisely the wrong time, perplexing its fans and getting lost in the indie upheaval that grunge triggered.
>“Sire signed acts whose commercial appeal wasn’t always immediate but who had the potential for a strong, lasting fan base. As a result, the list of former Sire artists reads like a who’s who of early college-rock heavyweights.” always immediate but who had the potential for a strong, lasting fan base. As a result, the list of former Sire artists reads like a who’s who of early college-rock heavyweights.”
Bob Welch, French Kiss (1977)
by Rob Horning
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”.
>“There’s more sleaze packed into those 144 square inches than in a hundred days in the life of Tommy Lee.” e inches than in a hundred days in the life of Tommy Lee.”