Best Reissues 2016

homepage_large-6c37139aBig Star / Complete Third

More mythos undone.  Three versions of everything: demo, rough, finished.  This album has always been portrayed as a sort-of-flung-together album, but hearing these songs in earlier forms really showcases the strength of Chilton’s songwriting.  Does it help if you’ve lived with the original for years: yes – but don’t sleep on my fave Big Star for that reason…

afterschool-special-the-123s-of-kid-soul-1Afterschoool Special: the 123’s of Kid Soul

The first volume from 9 years ago had me hooked on these lost cuts from Jackson 5 inspired children soulsters.  Few you’ve ever heard of, but it matters little.  “We Don’t Dig No Busin‘” , “Running Wild (Ain’t Gonna Help You)” and “I’m Free No Dope For Me” are all standouts.  As is a kid version of Gil Scott Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”  where they’re rappin’ sooo fast to get all the lyrics in.

71atjbeo-l-_sl1200_Sandy Denny / I’ve Always Kept a Unicorn

Sandy demos with mainly just guitar and her voice.  Of all her under-rated glories these are my favorites.  Two of my most favorite songs ever grace this compilation: “Who Knows Where the Time Goes” and “By the Time it Gets Dark“.  Know thy titans.

cs615461-01a-bigThe Aggrovators / Dubbing at King Tubby’s

The base root of dub.  I’m sure they never dreamed their low-fi operation would produce a style and sound that (for me) works with everything.  Tubby, Jammy, Scientist all make mixing appearances, in this most sacred of musical locations.

5026328503455_t28668099960054Betty Harris / The Lost Queen of New Orleans Soul

Many soul compilations break down to a familiar ratio: 30% great; 30% better-than-average; 40% okay.  Massive props to the compiler of this overlooked 60’s soul siren because it is ALL KILLER  no filler.

mi0000599962Terry Allen / Lubbock (On Everything)

Hillbilly poet/artist Terry Allen falls into the singer-songwriter category, but that almost feels like a diss because these songs are so easy and true.  One of those records where you’ll laugh and say: “he’s totally right” after every great lyric.  “The Most Beautiful Waitress” is also a contender for song of the year (plus I got my new life mantra from this record: “My Ego Ain’t My Amigo“).

600x600Labelle / Nightbirds

Not technically a reissue, but I heard this for the first time this year, and I have not been the same.  Labelle was a MACHINE in 1974, I have not heard a band as infectious, tight and overwhelmingly amazing as this for many moons.  “Space Children“, “All Girl Band“, “Are You Lonely?”, : constant, permanent, repeat…

5026328403342_t27187905080054BoomBox 1 / Early Independent Hip-Hop, Electro and Disco Rap 1979-82

Two discs of 6-9 minute party raps may sound a bit redundant, but it’s the spirit of this era that really shines through.  A tad monochromatic in execution, but anyone who doesn’t know the sound of early block-party hip hop should hear and recognize the genesis contained within.

51rgq7aax5lThe Shaggs / Philosophy of the World

Okay, technically you only need to hear this once, but it warms my black heart that this New Hampshire sister trio gets reissued.  Sloppy, maddening, and irresistible.  At this particular juncture in the history of America, this record reminds me that we’re all a part of something, and every voice counts…

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