Published Nov 26, 2013Booming now more than ever, the album reissue market repeatedly grabbed our attention this year, as we regularly emptied our bank accounts for re-released records packing newly imagined art, must-have extras and tasteful remastering. Below, we shine a light on those re-releases where labels went the extra mile instead of offering simple vinyl represses.
Top 10 Reissues of 2013:
10. Cleaners From Venus
The world of indie pop really does owe Captured Tracks a big, affectionate pat on the back. The label's reissue efforts have repeatedly dug out treasure after long-lost treasure, the albums by Martin Newell's Cleaners From Venus being some of the best of the bunch. The label proved this again with its second volume of Cleaners From Venus reissues, with the series now including the previously impossible-to-find albums In the Golden Autumn (1983), Under Wartime Conditions (1984) and Songs for a Fallow Land (1985), as well as the rarities collection A Dawn Chorus: Early Cleaners and Beyond (all of which are available separately or in one packaged-up box). Dig into any of these records and it doesn't take long to realize the England-born Newell is a true master of DIY guitar pop, not to mention one hell of a punk poet, rivaling like-minded songwriters such as XTC's Andy Partridge, Chris Knox and Television Personalities' Dan Treacy. Best of all, Cleaners From Venus still sound like true originals all these decades later. (Brock Thiessen)
9. Ashrae Fax
Without context, anyone would assume Ashrae Fax were some long lost Eastern European new wave treasure uncovered by the crate-digging folks at Mexican Summer. Nope. Turns out, this duo were from Greensboro, North Carolina and released their one and only CD-R, Static Crash!, in 2003. Nonetheless, this was a diamond-in-the-rough find, a perfect re-imagining of mid-'80s period Cocteau Twins forcibly produced by an amphetamine-fuelled Martin Hannett. (C.L.)
Change the Beat: The Celluloid Records Story 1979-1987
In the late 1970s, New York City was a melting pot of experimental and urban music, and at the forefront was Celluloid Records. Founded by Parisian Jean Georgakarakos, the label became a hub for just about every sound busting out of the city's vibrant communities. Change the Beat tells the Celluloid story and spans the label's far-reaching canon: from Ferdinand's French post-punk and Massacre's avant-rock to Fab 5 Freddy's rap and Material's acid-funk. Change The Beat does just that, from track to track; it's a mixed bag in the best way possible. (C.L.)
I Am the Center: Private Issue New Age Music in America, 1950-1990
(Light in the Attic)
While the likes of psych, kosmische, krautrock and prog have all been rebranded as that slippery term "cool" over the years, sister genre new age hasn't been so lucky. Regularly panned as yuppie-approved musical fare best fit for a chilled-out spa sesh, it's hardly been the type of music seen as offering a real, worthwhile artistic statement. Light in the Attic's sprawling three-LP set I Am the Center shows just how wrong that assumption is. Featuring obscure tracks recorded between 1950 and 1990, the comp shines a needed light on little-known DIY new agers such as Eno collaborator Laraaji, Gail Laughton, Daniel Emmanuel and Larkin, all of whom show exactly why current electronic visionaries (see Oneohtrix Point Never) have looked back to new age for their blissfully spaced-out sounds. On a smaller scale, I Am the Center is simply great to chill out to. (B.T.)
6. Rodion G.A.
The Lost Tapes
Romanian music seems like an untapped treasure trove, considering the extent of known recordings out there. But this year saw the revelation of The Lost Tapes, a collection of work by Rodion G.A. — an experimental collective that operated in the '70s and '80s — finding colour in a somewhat dreary, culturally suppressed landscape. Using a DIY ethic, leader Rodion Ladislau Roșca followed a staggeringly cosmic path, incorporating psych, Krautrock and early synth music to build a far out sound that seems like the basis for many electronic acts today. (C.L.)