Music

The Best Re-Issues of 2008: 10-1

Artist: Steinski Album: What Does It All Mean? Subtitle: 1983-2006 Retrospective Label: Illegal Art Image: http://images.popmatters.com/music_cover_art/s/steinski-whatdoesitallmean.jpg US Release Date: 2008-05-27 UK Release Date: 2008-05-27

Display as: List

List number: 10

Within hip-hop history, Steve Stein aka Steinski is an unlikely icon, a writer working in advertising who co-created a sampling classic as a record label contest entry. Of course that story is just a reminder of the unlikely innovation inherent in the invention of hip-hop as music. What Does It All Mean? is a dizzying two-CD trip through Steinski's brain, from that opening salvo ("The Payoff Mix") he created with Double Dee through to a haunting track he did using recordings from 9/11. And of course by Steinski's brain I mean the collective brain and memory of us all, since the building blocks for these songs are popular culture and American society. More than just the story of one artist, this collection tells the story of how ideas and creations live myriad lives of their own, of how everyone and everything lives on through sampling. Dave Heaton

Steinski: What Does It All Mean?

Artist: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark Album: Dazzle Ships Label: Caroline Label: Virgin Image: http://images.popmatters.com/music_cover_art/o/orchestralmanoeuvresinthedark-dazzleships.jpg First date: 1983 US Release Date: 2008-04-15 UK Release Date: 2008-03-03

Display as: List

List number: 9

Dazzle Ships was so prescient it wasn't even cool. Literally. In 1983, a British pop album about genetic engineering, Nicaraguan terrorists, and Eastern Bloc industrial techniques was nothing short of baffling. That it was heavy on then-nascent digital sampling technology and featured several musique concrete-style sound collages spelled commercial suicide for a band that was following up a run of international hits. A quarter century later, though, Dazzle Ships' grappling with the push-and-pull among technology, politics, and human compassion in troubled times was downright timely. Plus, the combinations of electronic and organic sounds were still fascinating, Andy McCluskey's impassioned vocals went straight to the heart, and any hokey elements were self-consciously so. All of this meant Dazzle Ships could be appreciated as a direct predecessor to albums like Radiohead's OK Computer and Kid A. It's becoming all-too-common to re-brand yesterday's commercial failures as "overlooked masterpieces", but Dazzle Ships' critical salvage job was well-deserved. John Bergstrom

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark - ABC Auto Industry

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark - Genetic EngineeringOrchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark: Dazzle Ships

Artist: Liz Phair Album: Exile in Guyville Label: ATO Image: http://images.popmatters.com/music_cover_art/p/phairliz-exileinguyville.jpg US Release Date: 2008-06-24 UK Release Date: 2008-06-23

Display as: List

List number: 8

Liz Phair’s first album was not only one of the previous decade’s most astonishing debuts, but also one of its most celebrated releases, period. For all of the DIY ingenuity, casual dirty talk and music-nerd-baiting claims of the record as an opaque song-by-song response to the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street, the greatness of Exile in Guyville lies solely in the sheer effortless brilliance of the songwriting. Whether it’s the garage rock swagger of “Never Said", the sardonic folk-pop narrative of “Divorce Song", the libidinous fury of “Flower” or the ghostly slow-burn of “Shatter", Guyville is, much like the sex that Phair so frequently and unflinchingly describes throughout, simply an amazingly pleasurable experience. Spruced up with some hit-and-miss bonus tracks (the stark “Ant in Alaska” is a hidden gem, the rest are filler) and a rambling documentary DVD, this reissue may not entirely live up to lofty fan expectations (where are all of those Girlysound demos, anyway?). However, for putting a now-legitimately-classic album back in the public consciousness, the existence of this set could not be more welcome or essential. Jer Fairall

Liz Phair - Never SaidLiz Phair: Exile in Guyville

Artist: Bob Dylan Album: Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series Vol. 8: Rare and Unreleased 1989-2006 Label: Columbia Image: http://images.popmatters.com/music_cover_art/d/dylanbob-telltalesignsthebootlegseriesvol8rareandunreleased19892006.jpg US Release Date: 2008-10-07 UK Release Date: 2008-10-06

Display as: List

List number: 7

If there is indeed a pool of the collective subconscious that we may all dip into from time to time, then Bob Dylan swims there frequently. He's been able to adopt whole personas, narrate across generations, and sing a song of true heartbreak that can only come from personal experience. He's maybe the only musician who can adopt another's perspective without ever seeming the impostor. Tell Tale Signs gives the public more, and more is what we should always take from this man. A different take on a song takes away the sardonic edge and imbues existential sadness into the sound ("Most of the Time"). A tune that didn't make the final cut on a studio album only begs the question, "Why not?" ("Dreamin' of You"). Or take any of the live tracks and hear how supreme confidence and professionalism only allow for more, not less, emotion and spontaneity. In a world that seemed just a little more fragile this year, it was sincerely comforting to have Bob Dylan around. Jill Labrack

Bob Dylan - Mississippi (live)Bob Dylan: Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series Vol. 8: Rare and Unreleased 1989-2006

Artist: Nick Lowe Album: Jesus of Cool Subtitle: 30th Anniversary Edition Label: Yep Roc Contributors: the attractions, the rumour, rockpile Image: http://images.popmatters.com/music_cover_art/l/lowenick-jesusofcool.jpg First date: 1978-03-01 US Release Date: 2008-02-19 UK Release Date: 2008-02-18

Display as: List

List number: 6

Long unavailable on CD, Nick Lowe's Jesus of Cool merged punk's sneering, reflexive attitude with meticulous Beatlesque songcraft. From the headline-grabbing title (altered to Pure Pop for Now People in the U.S.) to the trendhopping artwork, Lowe was unafraid to shock and even less afraid to coat his sarcastic, petulant commentaries in instantly accessible melodies. Yep Roc's remastered upgrade puts a pristine sheen on the once-fuzzy tracks, and adds some supreme rarities, including a gloriously subversive "Born a Woman" cover and the smug industry-politics diatribe "I Love My Label". Full of stylistic shapeshifting (disco, rockabilly, teen idol bubblegum) and winking goofs, Jesus draws on a euphonic past to chart a self-aware future, resulting in 11 timeless, ahead-of-their-time, gamut-running songs. The seductive lover's ode "Tonight" could become a standard, while the deliciously tasteless "Marie Provost" is quite possibly the catchiest song about a Dachshund feasting on a movie star's rotting corpse ever written. Charles Hohman

Nick Lowe - Little HitlerNick Lowe: Jesus of Cool

Artist: Dennis Wilson Album: Pacific Ocean Blue Subtitle: Legacy Edition Label: Epic Label: Sony Legacy Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Pacific-Ocean-Blue-Dennis-Wilson/dp/B00104CIN2/ref=bxgy_cc_m_img_a Image: http://images.popmatters.com/music_cover_art/w/wilson-dennis-poblegacy.jpg Website: http://www.pacificoceanblue.net First date: 1977-08-22 US Release Date: 2008-06-17 UK Release Date: 2008-06-16

Display as: List

List number: 5

For 17 years, the solo albums recorded by the only genuine Beach Boy have been the reserve of those willing to deal with bootlegs or to spend nearly $100 on eBay. Thirty-one years after the only Beach Boy who lived it like he sang it recorded his opus, Sony finally reissued it along with the never previously released and unfinished Bambu. This long-term unavailability has ensured that these two records have attained a near-mythical status, much like Wilson's more celebrated brother's Smile before them. Wilson's weary, coke-ravaged vocals add a raw-throated appeal to a sprawling collection of Southern Californian pop that takes in gospel ("River Song"), '70s rock ("Dreamer") and stripped-down ballads ("Thoughts of You"). The harder-rocking Bambu isn't quite the masterpiece that Pacific Ocean Blue is, but this two-disc collection is proof that Dennis shared not only his brother Brian’s psychological issues, but his gifts of arrangement and melody. James BassettDennis Wilson: Pacific Ocean Blue

Artist: Big Dipper Album: Supercluster Subtitle: The Big Dipper Anthology Label: Merge Image: http://images.popmatters.com/music_cover_art/b/bigdipper-supercluster.jpg US Release Date: 2008-03-18 UK Release Date: 2008-03-18

Display as: List

List number: 4

This lost 1980s band started as a songwriter’s collective –- in casual sessions on Bill Goffrier’s Boston porch, with Volcano Suns refugee Gary Waleik -- and grew into Homestead’s raucous pop-crossed-with-punk touring machine. The band made an ill-starred jump to Sire in 1989, then foundered in neglect and unkept promises, recording a whole album worth of songs that never saw the light of day. This three-disc set collects all but Sire-issued Slam from the band’s too brief catalogue -– from the jittery jangle Boo Boo to the radiant Heavens to headlong rush of Craps. The sardonic, angry, yet very tuneful cuts (“Wake Up the King”, “Lifetime Achievement Award”) from never-released Very Loud Array are included as well, plus alternate takes and demos. It’s a glimpse into a late 1980s/early 1990s indie alternative universe that never happened, one where jagged songs about UFOs and the Loch Ness Monster ruled the airwaves, and pop was sweetly anarchic but never dull. Jennifer Kelly

Big Dipper: Supercluster

Artist: Gas Album: Nah Und Fern Label: Kompakt Image: http://images.popmatters.com/music_cover_art/g/gas-nahundfern.jpg US Release Date: 2008-06-10 UK Release Date: 2008-06-02

Display as: List

List number: 3

When Mille Plateaux kicked the bucket in 2004, the four Gas albums under its auspices -- Gas (1996), Zauberberg (1998), Königsforst (1999) and Pop (2000) -- went out of print and began to sell for unthinkable prices. I bought them anyhow, and repeatedly argued with myself over whether I'd made a stupid move. I was $300 poorer, but the music was so special that perhaps the price tags made some sort of weird sense. Luckily this will all be moot for anyone patient enough to hold out for Nah und Fern, a remastered four-disc set containing all of Gas's full-length output for about half of what one CD used to cost alone.

There's no better time for Kompakt (co-owned by Gas, née Wolfgang Voigt) to share this with the world. Ambient music is gaining momentum, and Voigt's thumbprint is all over the work of Olaf Dettinger, Markus Guentner, The Field's Axel Willner, Yagya's Aalsteinn Gumundsson, and nearly everyone on 12k. Regardless of its historical importance, Nah und Fern contains some of the most breathtaking music in the entire ambient electronic canon. Voigt took classical music from composers like Wagner and melted it down into a deep, rich liquid, distilling it to its sonic essence. Often he would add a muted 50 Hz kick drum -- more dreamy than clubby -- to push the tracks forward; ironically, this only reinforced their sense of endlessness. But the reason Gas's work stands tall among the fold is because it doesn't simply create an atmosphere; these rivers of sound possess such luxurious depth that they seem to penetrate the skin and move throughout the body, such that the music isn't just lovely or enjoyable -- it's actually therapeutic. One decade and several thousand ambient albums later, it remains a singular experience. Mike NewmarkGas: Nah Und Fern

Artist: The Replacements Album: Hootenanny / Let It Be / Pleased to Meet Me / Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash / Stink / Tim Label: Rhino Image: http://images.popmatters.com/news_art/r/replacements-reissues.jpg US Release Date: 2008

Display as: List

List number: 2

When Twin Tone reissued the early Replacements catalog in 2002, although it was nice to see those old albums in record stores again, we couldn't help but feel a little cheated by the dubious "remastering" and complete lack of bonus material. Six years later, much to the elation of longtime fans, Rhino finally took the bull by the horns and released fully remastered, expanded versions of the Minneapolis legends' seven albums and one EP, and the end results are glorious, most of the albums boasting significant sound improvements and each disc brimming with demos, B-sides, and live tracks. The somewhat shrill Pleased to Meet Me is given a slightly cozier mix, 1985's lovable Tim sounds punchier, and 1989's All Shook Down, dismissed when it first came out, has aged gracefully. Best of the lot, though, is the spectacular spit and polish given to the classic Let It Be, as well as the raucous Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash, which is appended by the band's astounding demos, recorded in 1980. Sure, it's shameless nostalgia from we in Gen X, but like the dude said, it beats pickin' cotton and waitin' to be forgotten. Adrien Begrand

The Replacements: Hootenanny / Let It Be / Pleased to Meet Me / Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash / Stink / Tim

Artist: New Order Album: Brotherhood / Low-Life / Movement / Power Corruption & Lies / Technique Label: Rhino Image: http://images.popmatters.com/music_cover_art/n/new-order.jpg US Release Date: 2008 UK Release Date: 2008

Display as: List

List number: 1

Yeah, to be fair, the first printings were marred by various production problems –- a regrettable lapse considering how long people have been waiting for appropriate reissues of these seminal albums. But any dismay over printing errors -– soon to be redressed! -– should necessarily fade before general enthusiasm over finally seeing these albums remastered and repackaged in a format befitting their significance. Hyperbole doesn’t really enter into it: these albums are Ground Zero for so much of contemporary dance music, indie pop and even mainstream rock that it’s almost harder to find contemporary bands who aren’t influenced by New Order than to count those who are. And, finally, the albums have been salvaged from their woeful CD mastering and placed in a context with the 12” dance versions and remixes that made their name in the clubs. New Order was that rarest of creatures, both a classic singles band and a truly transcendent albums band, and any opportunity to revisit one of the most influential, diverse, and still strangely underrated oeuvres in all of contemporary pop is gratefully welcomed. Tim O'Neil

New Order - Blue Monday

New Order - Bizarre Love TriangleNew Order: Brotherhood / Low-Life / Movement / Power Corruption & Lies / Technique

Music


Books


Film


Recent
Television

'Everything's Gonna Be Okay' Is  Better Than Okay

The first season of Freeform's Everything's Gonna Be Okay is a funny, big-hearted love letter to family.

Music

Jordan Rakei Breathes New Life Into Soul Music

Jordan Rakei is a restless artistic spirit who brings R&B, jazz, hip-hop, and pop craft into his sumptuous, warm music. Rakei discusses his latest album and new music he's working on that will sound completely different from everything he's done so far.

Reviews

Country Music's John Anderson Counts the 'Years'

John Anderson, who continues to possess one of country music's all-time great voices, contemplates life, love, mortality, and resilience on Years.

Music

Rory Block's 'Prove It on Me' Pays Tribute to Women's Blues

The songs on Rory Block's Prove It on Me express the strength of female artists despite their circumstances as second class citizens in both the musical world and larger American society.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 3, Echo & the Bunnymen to Lizzy Mercier Descloux

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part three with Echo & the Bunnymen, Cabaret Voltaire, Pere Ubu and more.

Books

Wendy Carlos: Musical Pioneer, Reluctant Icon

Amanda Sewell's vastly informative new biography on musical trailblazer Wendy Carlos is both reverent and honest.

Music

British Folk Duo Orpine Share Blissful New Song "Two Rivers" (premiere)

Orpine's "Two Rivers" is a gently undulating, understated folk song that provides a welcome reminder of the enduring majesty of nature.

Music

Blesson Roy Gets "In Tune With the Moon" (premiere)

Terry Borden was a member of slowcore pioneers Idaho and a member of Pete Yorn's band. Now he readies the debut of Blesson Roy and shares "In Tune With the Moon".

Books

In 'Wandering Dixie', Discovering the Jewish South Is Part of Discovering Self

Sue Eisenfeld's Wandering Dixie is not only a collection of dispatches from the lost Jewish South but also a journey of self-discovery.

Music

Bill Withers and the Curse of the Black Genius

"Lean on Me" singer-songwriter Bill Withers was the voice of morality in an industry without honor. It's amazing he lasted this long.

Film

Jeff Baena Explores the Intensity of Mental Illness in His Mystery, 'Horse Girl'

Co-writer and star Alison Brie's unreliable narrator in Jeff Baena's Horse Girl makes for a compelling story about spiraling into mental illness.

Music

Pokey LaFarge Hits 'Rock Bottom' on His Way Up

Americana's Pokey LaFarge performs music in front of an audience as a way of conquering his personal demons on Rock Bottom.

Music

Joni Mitchell's 'Shine' Is More Timely and Apt Than Ever

Joni Mitchell's 2007 eco-nightmare opus, Shine is more timely and apt than ever, and it's out on vinyl for the first time.

Music

'Live at Carnegie Hall' Captures Bill Withers at His Grittiest and Most Introspective

Bill Withers' Live at Carnegie Hall manages to feel both exceptionally funky and like a new level of grown-up pop music for its time.

Music

Dual Identities and the Iranian Diaspora: Sepehr Debuts 'Shaytoon'

Electronic producer Sepehr discusses his debut album releasing Friday, sparing no detail on life in the Iranian diaspora, the experiences of being raised by ABBA-loving Persian rug traders, and the illegal music stores that still litter modern Iran.

Television

From the Enterprise to the Discovery: The Decline and Fall of Utopian Technology and the Liberal Dream

The technology and liberalism of recent series such as Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, and the latest Doctor Who series have more in common with Harry Potter's childish wand-waving than Gene Roddenberry's original techno-utopian dream.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 2, The B-52's to Magazine

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part two with the Cure, Mission of Burma, the B-52's and more.

Music

Emily Keener's "Boats" Examines Our Most Treasured Relationships (premiere)

Folk artist Emily Keener's "Boats" offers a warm look back on the road traveled so far—a heartening reflection for our troubled times.

Music

Paul Weller - "Earth Beat" (Singles Going Steady)

Paul Weller's singular modes as a soul man, guitar hero, and techno devotee converge into a blissful jam about hope for the earth on "Earth Beat".

Games

On Point and Click Adventure Games with Creator Joel Staaf Hästö

Point and click adventure games, says Kathy Rain and Whispers of a Machine creator Joel Staaf Hästö, hit a "sweet spot" between puzzles that exercise logical thinking and stories that stimulate emotions.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.