The Quietus Self-Indulgent Reissues, Comps & Mixes 2009 40 - 21
, December 3rd, 2009 08:52
The Quietus looks back over the past year to pick our favourite reissues, mix CDs and compilations of 2009. Guaranteed ten year vintage nu metal free
On Tuesday, the Quietus released our didactic, dictatorial, and deeply subjective first part of our favourite new albums of 2009. Today, we count down from 40 to 21 of what we consider the best compilations, mix CDs and reissues of the past 12 months.
40. Wicked Witch - Chaos 1978 – 1986
How could you not fall in love with a record that looks like this? The Quietus would like to think of ourselves as louche and fearless, striding through the mean streets with a tingling nasal cavity, black leather cladding our person and boots made from the last surviving member of a rare species of antelope upon our feet, seeking out base carnality with wastrels of either gender. As it is, we're two slightly anxious, ageing blokes in a cold attic in Stoke Newington fuelled by nothing stronger than Yorkshire Tea, but under the spell of this crone, we can but dream...
39. 23 Skidoo – Urban Gamelan
"If you accept Skidoo as a post-punk band then it's easy to see why. Urban Gamelan certainly starts percussively enough, but field recordings and samples are still there, along with loose flurries of low-strung bass. These eventually metamorphosised into the bassline for the Chemical Brothers' 'Block Rocking Beats'. 'Fuck You G.I.' is stark and scary, a howl of vocal protest slamming imperialism. This was a reworked version of 'Coup', a single that had wholly re-ignited the world's excitement in the band. The album version seemingly angered everybody, turning everybody off as quickly as 'Coup' had excited them only months earlier. As Urban Gamelan progresses gradually everything disappears until we are left with just percussion. A music press unable to account for rhythm-based sound (surely not?) had no linguistic tools to decipher the last two thirds of the album. Gamelan: it peaks and it troughs and that is simply all that was going on with 23 Skidoo." Jonny Mugwump
38. The Slits – Cut
"The Slits developed the Slits sound. To this day, no one sounds like us, no one. People trying to categorise the music has fucked us up over the years: "Oh, we can't label you, what are you?" It's… Slits! A totally new sound. We had no heroes. We had no one to look up to." Ari Up, The Slits
37. Jean-Pierre Massiera – Midnight Massiera
"Finders Keepers carry on putting out digger's delights with this anthology of material by Jean-Pierre Massiera. He's often referred to as the French Joe Meek but this doesn't prepare you for the psychically divergent nature of this rattle bag of psych, prog and acid rock recorded under the names The Starlights, Chico Magnetic Band, Les Maledictus Sound, The Human Egg and, of course, Jesus. This being French acid music, it goes without saying that it goes a bit "big top" from time to time but otherwise amazing. John Doran
36. Venom – Black Metal
"We got some huge big pieces of steel and put them in vices and actually brought the chainsaw into the studio! We wrecked all the plates on the chainsaw [recording the noise that opens the album]. On the actual album version we cut it in such a way that as soon as the needle touched the actual vinyl . . . CRZZZZK! – it went straight into that racket. So straight away for the uninitiated you get that sense of panic: ‘Oh fuck, my stereo’s broken!’ We wanted people to go ‘Fuck! What’s going on!?' We wanted to create something that sounded fucked. Everyone else is striving for perfection and trying to get everything right but we wanted to go the other way and create panic. There were a lot of things that we wanted on the album. I remember coming in with a dog whistle to use between all the songs and saying to the engineer: ‘I want people’s pets and budgies and cats to go fucking mental and start freaking out.’" Conrad, Venom. Full Venom feature next week on The Quietus
35. Various Artists - Forge Your Own Chains: Psychedelic Ballads and Dirges 1968-1974
The compilers looked beyond the pachouli cloud for this superb compilation of soulful psychedelia on Now-Again Records. Inspired by the fact that the track that gave the collection its name was nigh-on impossible to find, the curators picked music from as far afield as Nigeria, Iran, South Korea, Thailand. Forge Your Own Chains comes accompanied by detailed, well-written sleevenotes that highlight a path to further discoveries. As compiler Egon writes, "this is just the tip of an iceberg..." you'd do well to get wrecked.
34. Laibach - Let It Be
Cheeky conceptualists in militaristic hats, Laibach blew a fat raspberry at the Beatles dumping their back catalogue onto the record shop shelves by choosing the same day to reissue their version of Let It Be, a hilarious, and curiously respectful, industrial NSK stomp over the twitching corpse of a sacred cow. If only they'd do Pet Sounds too...
33. Erasure - Total Pop! Erasure's First 40 Hits
"Back in their blue-sequinned, “burlesque cowboy” prime, coming out as an Erasure fan would, to the nervous, necessarily have been preceded by a period of anguished soul-searching, during which all-too-familiar feelings of self-denial, shame and revulsion would rise to the surface. Happily we live in more enlightened times and, with every aggressively-hyped synth-pop arriviste worth their salt proclaiming the ineffable pop genius of messers Bell and Clarke, this career-spanning double-CD retrospective arrives at a timely juncture." Darren Lee
32. Def Leppard - Adrenalyze
"Through a deep, surgically precise analysis of Adrenalize would reveal many, many flaws, the record buying public of '92 cared not — the LP topped both the UK and US charts simultaneously, shifting seven million units in the process. And it's easy to see why: while many bands in The Leps' situation would have succumbed to chin-strokey catharsis, Def Leppard — spectacularly — looked to the other end of the spectrum and unleashed an LP of unrelenting catchiness; a dose of sugarcoated PCP injected straight into the ear drums couldn't have matched it for the ensuing levels of unpretentious escapism. 'Let's Get Rocked' — in spite of having one of the most horrifically OTT examples of early CGI in the accompanying video — is unashamedly frivolous, invoking no feeling or extended contemplation, just total, involuntary sing-alongs." Toby Cook
31. Moondog - More Moondog
"Moondog learned to play drums on a cardboard box when he was five, and all of his work glistens with a strange rhythmic off-kilter heartbeat. This becomes the foundation for further percussion, chanting, saxophone (though that rarely appears on these early releases), occasional piano, tap-dancing, New York traffic, poetry, readings from the man himself and... tugboat horns. The music alone is remarkable by anybody's standards but all these environmental snippets, the overheard conversations and the life of Moondog's exterior surroundings transform the release into a surreal field recording- a shifting soundscape pivoting on the Viking's inherent lopsided aural perception of the world." Jonny Mugwump
30. Cold Cave - Cremations
"I don't feel as if we are revisiting an era at all, as it is timeless and technology continues to evolve. People tend to critique musicians and artists for rehashing sounds but I feel this is a bit inept, as what is most interesting to me with music is who creates it. There is only one of you, and if you are true to yourself, you will be the only one capable of making a certain song or sound. This is why music is still fascinating, especially with electronics... the method of humanising and transforming your heart and guts via machines, what other choice do we have in the 2000s?" Wes Eisold, Cold Cave
29. Various Artists Freedom, Rhythm And Sound
"When revolutionary new politics and revolutionary new sounds in popular music are merged the results can often be explosive. The acts here are as much the forebears of Black Flag and Public Enemy as they are of modern jazz groups. The radicalism of Sun Ra, Archie Shepp and Joe McPhee spills off these grooves. Sure, the scatting on ‘Lateen’ by The Unity Troupe will have you using choice scatological phrases but otherwise this is fucking smoking." John Doran, writing in The Stool Pigeon
28. The Raincoats The Raincoats
"The Raincoats' history follows a similar trajectory to many from the era. Yet as Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon acknowledges in the liner notes she wrote, alongside uber-fan Kurt Cobain, for the early 90s reissues of The Raincoats' catalogue, they were a band of ordinary people who, lacking the trappings and poses of many of their peers, created something extraordinary."
27. Various Artists Sci Fi Lo Fi: Shoegazing 1985 – 2007
He might now be most widely known for the abomination of estate agents in fancy dress that is Bestival, but Rob Da Bank shows off his crate-digging skills with this excellent collection of shoegaze, that once-maligned, and now entirely rehabilitated - even ubiquitous - genre. Everyone, these days, loves a spot of shoey, and this selection covers all bases, from indie disco shuffle staple, Dinosaur Jr's 'Freak Scene', to Ride's gruelling dirge 'Nowhere' and Slowdive's incredible 'When The Sun Hits'. Hell, even Chapterhouse sound incredible here.
26. Spacemen 3 A Perfect Prescription
"It goes without saying that people are getting all excited about the Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space Spiritualized reissue but this is the motherlode. Where J. Spaceman and Sonic Boom stopped being a psych revival band and started a new voyage into heavy, distorted fuzz psych and amp worship. One of their shining peaks alongside Playing With Fire." John Doran
25 Various Artists Hyperdub Five
"One of our favourite labels celebrates a significant anniversary in low end provision with a sterling comp. It's roughly split in two between some highlights and rarities from the back catalogue and a host of new material. Obviously nearly every track is a highlight but 'Aidey's Girl Is A Computer' by Darkstar, Zomby's 'Tarantula' (originally called 'Itsy Bitsy Spider' until they realised how inapropriate the nomeclature was for such a boooming heavyweight) and finally a proper release for Kode 9 and Spaceape's 'Ghost Town'. Here's to the next five." John Doran
24. Mulatu Astatke New York Addis London: The Story Of Ethio Jazz 1965 – 1975
“It took me about 40 years or something to get this music recognized in the world. I came over to the UK recently to play at Cargo [East London venue] and there were so many British youngsters who were making noise and shouting because they loved this music so much. After we played there were some really young guys who had really surprising questions about 40 years ago, like who was playing the saxophone, who was playing the drums. I was so surprised at how much they loved music generally. It made me very happy to hear that. After so many years to come to England and be accepted so nicely by people who have a good idea of what you have done is really pleasing." Mulatu Astatke
23. Amorphous Androgynous _ A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble Exploding In Your Mind Vol 2 – Pagan Love Vibrations_
"Ironically, Noel’s departure from Oasis means he leaves at a genuinely intriguing point. Having become a massive champion of Future Sound Of London’s latest incarnation as Amorphous Androgynous since discovering their A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble Exploding In Your Mind mix CD, he asked them to remix what now stands as the final Oasis single, ‘Falling Down’. Even more remarkably, the track they turned in, a four-part 22-minute psych-rock odyssey, was judged too great to stick on a B-side, and became the final actual release under the Oasis name, in a 12” vinyl edition aimed squarely at the DJ market." John Tatlock
22. Godflesh Pure/Slave State/Cold World
"Metal on metal on more metal, piston-like rhythms, overworked electronics, growled soundbite lyrics about enslavement, routine and nihilism: Broadrick (currently recording as Jesu and Final) and Green built a career on these. Metallica, Korn and Fear Factory are among their Famous Fans, not that this ever bought them riches. Their albums have drifted in and out of print over time, so kudos to Earache for these two triple-disc reissues — most, although not all, of their output for the label." Noel Gardner
21. Various Artists Fly Girls
"There's a glaring anomaly on this excellent album. 'Take Yo Praise' by Camille Yarborough is by no means a bad track. Her honeyed tones were made ubiquitous by Fat Boy Slim's 'Praise You' and now the original is a staple on “spot the sample” collections and television adverts. This languid aqueous funk almost pants with post-coital satisfaction. It's true that Yarborough, a distinguished Afro-centric scholar has a background in griot (or praise) singing which has tangential links to rap but this bout of rapturous submission stands out like a sore thumb here. Not only are men not fawned over elsewhere on this record: they are barely mentioned. Apart from the odd eyelash-curling jibe at sucker DJs, the boys are merely there to be tutted at while the subject of lyrical praise (or gallons of rhyming bile) are various B-girls, lady rappers and their friends." John Doran
- Wicked Witch Chaos 1978 – 1986
- 23 Skidoo – Urban Gamelan
- The Slits – Cut
- Jean-Pierre Massiera – Midnight Massiera
- Venom – Black Metal
- Various Artists - Forge Your Own Chains: Psychedelic Ballads and Dirges 1968-1974
- Laibach - Let It Be
- Erasure - Total Pop! Erasure's First 40 Hits
- Def Leppard - Adrenalyze
- Moondog - More Moondog
- Cold Cave - Cremations
- Various Artists Freedom, Rhythm And Sound
- The Raincoats The Raincoats
- Various Artists Sci Fi Lo Fi: Shoegazing 1985 – 2007
- Spacemen 3 A Perfect Prescription
- Various Artists Hyperdub Five
- Mulatu Astatke New York Addis London: The Story Of Ethio Jazz 1965 – 1975
- Amorphous Androgynous _ A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble Exploding In Your Mind Vol 2 – Pagan Love Vibrations_
- Godflesh Pure/Slave State/Cold World
- Various Artists Fly Girls
Think you can do better? It's a rhetorical question, of course you can. We will print the best top tens we get. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org with any notes you want to include.
Read the rest of The Quietus' Self-Indulgent Reissues, Compilations and Mixes of the year list next Wednesday, December 9th. Who will be Number One? The world awaits, trembling. Legs like a shitting dogs'.