As I sit and watch the year end lists of best reissues virtually pile up on the laptop, I can’t help but be reminded of something my Uncle Lech once said to me many X-Masses ago when we were down in his basement jamming some Bobby Vinton. As his light up speakers twinkled and pulsed in my peripherals, he turned to me, let out a kielbasa-‘n’- bourbon stinking burp and ominously growled, “Remember, kid: A re-mixed full length with some crappy live tracks thrown on at the end does not a re-issue make.”
At the time, I just found the statement to be one of the many nonsensicals that fell from his drunken mouth on the holidays. But now that I am older and seen the same dollar bin fodder trotted out year after year all tarted up audio wise to entice both the musical rube and mega-fan alike, I understand what the hell that crazy ear-hair owning bastard was talking about all those moons ago.
What follows is a list of music releases that were re-issued this year with the actual intention of hipping people to something that might not have heard before. These sounds languished in some shit hole studios’ vaults or in some unwashed record collectors’ fat rolls until the gracious people at these labels freed the sounds for you to enjoy. These labels went to a lot of trouble for you, so the least you can do is buy the equivalent of the Uncle Lech in your life a re-up of the Dead C’s Harsh 70’s Reality or Kenneth Higney’s Attic Demonstration. I mean, really!
These are the best reissues of 2012 in no order whatsoever.
The Aberrant Years box set (Sub Pop)
In the 1980’s, the four LP’s released by Australian avant-thug rockers feedtime were something for American proto-hipsters to wag on about in the quarters of fanzine editors’ dimly lit living rooms. Nowadays, things such as this box set containing their entire recorded output are just out there for any jerk to pick up and dig on. How lovely. A perfect item for either the curious youngster or the old fogey that damaged these records over many drunken nights.
Spirit of the Golden Juice (The Circadian Press)
Many nefarious editions of this late night folk burner have ridden the waves in and out of the musical underground the past 15 years or so, but this one is one hundred percent legit and fully backed by Mr. McMahon himself. Music nerd folklore tells that when F.J. recorded these tunes back in 1969; it was after serving a hideous tour of Vietnam and one listen to the record will make you understand that legacy. You want to hear the audio equivalent of solemn desperation? Here you go. A sure fire disc to clear out your New Year’s party.
Complete Discography (Temporary Residence)
There’s no two ways about it; Maryland’s Moss Icon were a very odd duck on the late ’80’s U.S. Punk underground. The band took the then embryonic “emo-core” sound of the neighboring Washington D.C bands and launched it into hypnotically unhinged regions that both confused and pleased the few who heard it at the time. Having all their material in one handy dandy three LP set is ideal for your next peyote driven sob session.
The Dead C
Harsh 70’s Reality (Siltbreeze)
In the parallel universe I occupied for most of the ’90’s, this double LP opus released in ’92 by New Zealand’s premier outré rock outfit was the equivalent of Dark Side of the Moon as far as rock concept records went. Mind you, my pals and I were pretty stoned most of the time. These days, I smoke more pork that pot, but I still think it holds many gallons in regards to reckless invention and brute dynamics. If you’re the adventurous type, feel free to take a dip.
Black Task/Spikes to the Wall (Radio Raheem)
In the early ’80s, the American Hardcore boom encouraged many a young man to pick up a guitar. All you needed was a message and a leather jacket; let talent be damned! Later on in that decade, the same phenomenon ran through the long hairs when U.K Metal acts such as Venom and Warfare showed that deafening volume and an undying allegiance to Satan trumped musical prowess and spandex any day of the week. One band that heard the horned one’s call was Philadelphia’s Black Task. For years, this record (released in 1985) was only known in Metal record collectors due to its raw-as-hell production and visceral musical (?) assault. Now anyone and everyone can bask in the glory of such ditties as ‘Smash Your Face’, ‘Satan’s Mother’ and ‘Warriors of Hell’ anytime they damn well please. It’s enough to make a grown man weep.
Corrosion of Conformity
Eye for an Eye (Candlelight)
Why the debut LP from ’84 by these North Carolina Metal/Hardcore Punk pioneers wasn’t in print for over 20 years is anybody’s guess. But let’s not fixate on that issue right now. Let’s just be overjoyed we can rage to the boys in their innocent, developing state with not having to pay a ridiculous amount of money to own it on wax.
The Axeman Cometh (Guerssen)
When the long lost recordings of mythical early 70’s British biker rock outfit Wicked Lady first surfaced sometime in the ’90s, they were pretty revelatory to a generation of record collectors jaded on punk and the first stirrings of indie rock. The lame ass concept of the “guitar god” had to be re-evaluated when Wicked Lady guitarist Martin Weaver’s burly fuzz tone bled through the speakers showing that a “fuck you” attitude in music existed way before anyone shoved a safety pin in their cheek or dove off a stage. The Spanish label Guerssen did up two sets of Wicked Lady recordings this year to make up for the miniscule serving given up all those years ago. Prepare to have your ass served to you on a platter, brothers and sisters.
Here Come the Cars (DeStijl)
If you know David Kilgour for anything, it’s probably as a member of New Zealand’s finest purveyors of rudimentary pop, the Clean. But his debut solo LP from ’91 showcases his songwriting skills in more lush surroundings, thanks to the renowned production work of fellow countryman Nick Roughan. From the haunting opening title cut to the soothing balm-like closer “Nothing Vol. One,” this is one of those records that lingers in the air after every listen. A great gift idea for the melancholy moper in your life.
It feels like this full length by San Francisco’s premier ’70s punkers has been out of print forever, so it’s quite a thrill to see it out in the racks once again for everyone to grab. If any one album is proof to the timelessness of American punk, this is it. Every song is a chest thumping anthem you shouldn’t be embarrassed to sing along to at any age.
Attic Demonstration (One Kind Favor)
When Kenneth Higney self-released this album in 1976, the kindest words written about it were by a critic who cited it as “Lou Reed meets Neil Young without the aid of melody.” The songs on Attic Demonstration are a combination of boogie jams that would be played in an existentialist roadhouse and painfully earnest ballads presented in a stripped-down, shambolic and peculiar fashion. It’s the kind of stuff that captivates you by its sheer existence alone. Due to the kind efforts of the Rhode Island based One Kind Favor label, Higney’s singular vision can now be celebrated by a generation untainted by the words of yesterday’s critics.