THE BEST REISSUES OF 2016-PART 5.

THE BEST REISSUES OF 2016-PART 5.

Led Zeppelin-The Complete BBC Sessions.

Last year, the Led Zeppelin reissue campaign continued when Atlantic Records released The Complete BBC Sessions as a three CD set. This is essentially an expanded version BBC Sessions which was released in 1997 as a double album that featured twenty-four songs. However, nine songs were added and The Complete BBC Sessions was born. It was produced and remeasured by Jimmy Page and is a welcome, if belated addition to Led Zeppelin’s back-catalogue.

The Complete BBC Sessions was recorded between 1969 and 1971, and documented Led Zeppelin’s journey from rock debutantes to superstars. Sadly, by 1971 Led Zeppelin’s relationship with the BBC had become strained. No further sessions were recorded. However, The Complete BBC Sessions is an important musical document. It’s a reminder how Led Zeppelin never played the same song two nights running. Instead, they reinvented the song, taking it in new and unexpected directions. That’s the case on The Complete BBC Sessions where some songs feature two or three times. This allows listeners to compare and contrast songs, as Led Zeppelin improvise and reinvent familiar songs. It’s something Led Zeppelin continued to do throughout their career.

Especially between 1969 and 1971, which is documented on The Complete BBC Sessions. It documents the rise and rise of  Led Zeppelin, as they became one of the biggest bands on planet rock

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Lee Hazelwood-Cowboy In Sweden.

By 1970, Lee Hazelwood’s career had stalled. To make matters worse, his record company LHI Records was verging on insolvency. One of the last albums LHI Records released was Cowboy In Sweden, the soundtrack to a film that Lee Hazelwood ‘starred’ in.

Upon the release of Cowboy In Sweden, the film flopped. It found a small audience in Sweden, mainly due to the popularity of Lee Hazlewood. The few reviews of Cowboy In Sweden that were published weren’t exactly complimentary. Words like surreal and trippy were used. Critics accused Cowboy In Sweden of lacking cohesion and narrative. Lee Hazlewood’s latest venture into film hadn’t been a success. Nor was the soundtrack to Cowboy In Sweden.  It failed commercially. This was no surprise as LHI Records hadn’t the budget to promote the album. That was a great shame.

Lee Hazelwood showcased his talents as a singer, songwriter and producer on Cowboy In Sweden. Sometimes, he duets, but mostly it’s just Lee Hazelwood who takes centre-stage. His worldweary voice proved perfect for singing country. Especially the melancholy string-drenched ballads. That’s where Lee Hazelwood came into his own on what’s  a truly underrated, hidden gem of an album, Cowboy In Sweden. It was reissued by Light In The Attic during 2016. Cowboy In Sweden, which was recorded in four countries on two different continents during a two year period, is a reminder of Lee Hazelwood who for a year, was a Cowboy In Sweden. 

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Lightdreams-Islands In Space.

In 1981, the British Columbian band LightDreams, released their debut album, Islands In Space. It was a captivating, psychedelic sci-fi odyssey where LightDreams explored cosmic ideology. This had fascinated the band’s leader Paul Marcano ever since he first encountered the work and theories of author, physicist and space activist, Gerard K. O’Neill. So much so, that Paul decided to explore the subject on LightDreams’ debut album, Islands In Space. It was reissued by Got Kinda Lost Records, an imprint of Guerssen Records.

Islands In Space takes as its starting point psychedelia. They add elements of ambient, avant-garde, Berlin School, folk pop, Krautrock, progressive rock and rock can be heard throughout Islands In Spac. It’s a musical melting pot, where instruments and influences melt into one, as LightDreams sculpt a captivating psychedelic sci-fi odyssey. It begins LightDreams exploration of cosmic ideology that continued on their sophomore album 10,001 Dreams.

Both albums are true cult classics, that showcase the considerable talents of LightDreams. Especially founder member Paul Marcano. He had been working towards releasing an album based on cosmic ideology for several years. This only happened when he met the likeminded musicians that joined him in LightDreams in 1981. Later in 1981, Islands In Space was released.  It’s the first, in a two part musical voyage of discovery, that features LightDreams’ unique, imaginative and innovative brand of cerebral and thought-provoking music on their captivating psychedelic, sci-fi odyssey, Islands In Space.

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Lonnie Mack-The Wham Of That Memphis Man.

In 1963, twenty-two year old Lonnie Mack was already an experienced musician. He had been making a living as a musician since he was thirteen. That was when Lonnie Mack quit school, after getting involved in an argument with a teacher. For most thirteen year olds, this would’ve spelt disaster. This wasn’t the case for Lonnie Mack. He knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life…make a career out of music. That’s what Lonnie Mack went on to do, and in 1963 released his debut album The Wham Of That Memphis Man. It features a musical pioneer who changed the future direction of music.

Suddenly, the electric guitar could play a starring role in track. It was no longer just playing a supporting role. Nobody had tried this before Lonnie Mack. He transformed the musical landscape. 

Many musical historian credit Lonnie for laying the foundations for Southern Rock. Lonnie Mack was also a pioneer of blues rock, but was equally comfortable playing rock ’n’ roll, rockabilly and singing soul. Indeed, Lonnie Mack is regarded as one of the greatest blue eyed soul singers in musical history. He shows his considerable skills as a vocalist and guitarist on The Wham Of That Memphis Man which Ace Records reissues. Sadly, on April 21st 2016 Lonnie Mack passed away aged just seventy-five. That day, music lost a musical pioneer who transformed music on The Wham Of That Memphis Man .

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MacArthur-MacArthur.

Two years after Ben MacArthur first began making music with Bill Heffelfinger, the band was a quartet and had just recorded their eponymous debut album MacArthur. They had 200 copies of the album pressed, and by 1980 every copy was sold. Since then, MacArthur has garnered a cult following. Record collectors speak almost reverentially in hushed tones about MacArthur. Alas, original copies were almost impossible to find.  Even when one became available, the price was prohibitive to most record collectors. Fortunately, Out-Sider Music, an imprint of Guerssen Records reissued MacArthur.

The reissue of MacArthur is a welcome one, and means that this progressive, psychedelic concept album can be heard by a much wider audience. It features music that’s ambitious, cerebral, innovative and timeless. MacArthur is also one of the great lost concept albums. Quite simply, the album oozes quality. That was no surprise.

Each member of the MacArthur was a gifted musician. It seems the stars were aligned the day that Ben MacArthur, Bill Heffelfinger, Scott Stockford and Jeff Bauer recorded their eponymous debit album. It’s a tantalising taste of a band who could and should’ve reached greater heights. Sadly, MacArthur’s only released the one album,  MacArthur, which is a reminder of what this truly talented group were capable of.

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Manic Street Preachers-Everything Must Go-Vinyl.

As part of their Vinyl Week initiative, HMV released Music On Vinyl’s reissue of Manic Street Preachers’ fourth album Everything Must Go. It was released in 1996 and was the Manic Street Preachers’ first album since the disappearance of lyricist and rhythm guitarist Richey Edwards. Ironically, Everything Must Go became the Manic Street Preachers’ most successful album.

Everything Must Go was released to critical acclaim and sold over two million copies. This was the start of the rise and rise of the Manic Street Preachers. They showcase a new sound on Everything Must. Gone were the introspective and autobiographical lyrics.  The Manic Street Preachers turned their back on the stark, dark, disturbing and minimalist sound of their previous album The Holy Bible.  It was as if the Manic Street Preachers had reinvented themselves in the wake of the disappearance of Richey Edwards.

For Everything Must Go, the lyrics were inspired by history and politics. The music was much more melodic and album which features rock anthems. Even  the instruments deployed were different Strings and synths are to the fore on Everything Must Go, which has a much more commercial and accessible sound. Critics welcome the Manic Street Preachers’ new sound on Everything Must Go. They hailed they album a genre classic. Nowadays, Everything Must Go regarded as one of the best British albums of the nineties, and the album that transformed the Manic Street Preachers fortunes.

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Manuel Göttsching-E2-E4.

Despite spending much of 1981 playing live, Manuel Göttsching decided to play one more concert. This time, he would play to an audience of one…himself. Manuel Göttsching made his way to his home studio, Studio Roma where  had kept his vast collection of cutting edge equipment.  It was switched on night and day, just in case he felt inspired to make music. That was the case on the 12th of December 1981.  Just before he began playing, Manuel reached over and pressed record.  

For the next hour, Manuel Göttsching was lost in the music. He played with fluidity, the music flowing through him as he used just two chords.  Everything seemed to fall into place. That was the case when Manuel Göttsching switched between instruments. There wasn’t a note out of place. This was a once in a lifetime experience, that most musicians could only dream of. However, it only became apparent later when Manuel listened back to the tape and heard a flawless performance. It was released in 1983 as E2-E4.

This was a stylistic departure from musical chameleon Manuel Göttsching. It influenced several the several generations of house and techno producers. Alas, none of these producers have followed in Manuel Göttsching’s footsteps and produced a timeless, genre classic. E2-E4 was reissued by MiG in 2016 to celebrate the thirty-fifth anniversary of the night that Manuel Göttsching played to an audience of one and produced a timeless, genre classic.

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Manuel Göttsching-Inventions For Electric Guitar. 

When Manuel Göttsching released Inventions For Electric Guitar in 1975, it was regarded as a new chapter in his career. It was meant to be his debut solo album. Despite this, the album cover the words Ash Ra Tempel VI in small print. This muddied the waters somewhat and about whether it was a solo album of Ash Ra Tempel’s swan-song. 

However, nowadays, Inventions For Electric Guitar is regarded as Manuel Göttsching’s debut album. It’s no ordinary debut album. It was an album that was way ahead of its time, and nowadays, is regarded as a timeless, genre-melting classic. Manuel Göttsching combined elements of ambient, avant-garde, Berlin School, electronica, Krautrock, psychedelia and rock on Inventions For Electric Guitar. The result was an inventive and innovative album. Inventions For Electric Guitar features music that’s variously beautiful, ethereal, hypnotic, lysergic melancholy, mesmeric and rocky. What’s remarkable about Inventions For Electric Guitar, is that it was recorded by just one man, Manuel Göttsching.

He became a one man band, deploying his guitars and a myriad of effects to record multilayered soundscapes. They sounded as if they had been recorded by a number of musicians and instruments. That wasn’t the case. Instead, it was the work of Manuel Göttsching, one of the most inventive and innovative musicians of his generation. Inventions For Electric Guitar which was rereleased by iIG, is a timeless classic from the virtuoso guitarist and musical magician, Manuel Göttsching.

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Maria Muldaur-Sweet Harmony, Southern Winds and Open Your Eyes. 

For many people Maria Muldaur is synonymous with one song single Midnight At The Oasis. Granted it was her breakthrough single and her biggest hit. However, that’s merely part of the Maria Muldaur story. She released forty albums, including her third album Sweet Harmony. It was joined by Southern Winds and Open Your Eyes on BGO Records’ reissue. They showcase the different sides of Maria Muldaur.

She’s equally comfortable single AOR, blues, folk, gospel, pop and rock. Similarly Maria Muldaur is equally at home singing ballads and uptempo songs on Sweet Harmony, Southern Winds and Open Your Eyes. They’re a reminder of a versatile and talented singer. Sadly, these three albums failed to match the commercial success of Maria Muldaur’s first two albums, 1973s Maria Muldaur and 1974s Waitress In A Donut Shop. Even changing producer twice couldn’t change Maria Muldaur’s fortunes. 

Producers Joe Boyd and Lenny Waronker were replaced by Chris Bond. He was brought in to produce Southern Winds, but departed after one album. Replacing him were Patrick Henderson and David Nichtern. Alas, they couldn’t arrest the decline in Maria Muldaur’s fortunes. She left Reprise after Open Your Eyes, and never recorded an album for a major label again. That’s despite Maria Muldaur recording forty solo albums. However, three of her finest albums of her long career are Sweet Harmony, Southern Winds and Open Your Eyes, which are the perfect introduction to Maria Muldaur.

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Mary Afi Usuah-African Woman.

When Mary Afi Usuah released her sophomore album African Woman in 1978, very few people outside of Nigeria heard the album. 

That’s despite Mary spending thirteen years touring Europe and playing in front of huge crowds. Mary Afi Usuah had opened for musical luminaries like Deep Purple, Duke Ellington and Led Zeppelin. Sometimes, Mary Afi Usuah took to the stage with Led Zeppelin, and matched Robert Plant every step of the way. This allowed Mary Afi Usuah to showcase her considerable talents and versatility. 

Despite Mary Afi Usuah’s undoubtable talent, her recording career was all too brief. It amounted to just a couple of singles and two solo albums. This includes African Woman which passed record buyers by upon its release in 1978.  This resulted in Mary Afi Usuah turning her back on music.

Sadly, Mary Afi Usuah passed away in 2013. By then, there was a resurgence of interest in her music. The only problem was original copies of African Woman were almost impossible to find. So, for anyone with a passing interest in African music, then Pmg’s reissue of Mary Afi Usuah’s African Woman should be a cause for celebration.  African Woman is an opportunity to discover one of the greatest female vocalists in the history of African music, Mary Afi Usuah, on this long lost hidden gem of Nigerian music.

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