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The Quietus' Self-Indulgent Reissues, Comps & Mixes Of The Year List: 30 To 15
The Quietus , December 2nd, 2008 04:37

The Quietus looks back over the past year to pick our favourite reissues, mix CDs and compilations of 2008. Guaranteed ten year vintage Britpop free.

Yesterday, the Quietus released our didactic, dictatorial, and deeply subjective first installment of our favourite new albums of 2008. Today, we count down the the first 15 of what we consider the best compilations, mix CDs and reissues of the past 12 months.

These days, reissues are an act of desperation on the part of record labels trying to save a last few pennies before they accompany downloads of Cum On My Tattoo III into your nephew Stephen's iPod. Meanwhile, the likes of Muxtape (RIP) and Imeem have made everyone selectors extraordinaire, and such is the democratisation of DJing that even thirsty Aunt Doreen reckons she can cut a mix a strong as her notorious gin. We therefore felt we could throw caution to the wind and choose whatever the damn hell we liked to fill thirty slots in this prestigious reissues, mixes and compilations of the year category. The Quietus gents donned tweed, filled hipflasks, upped rifles, and set forth for a joyful afternoon at shooting at fish in barrels; this is what we reached in and took home in our hump...

30. Various Artists - Optimo Sleepwalk

What they said: "Sleepwalk is a listening collection. Where you might choose to listen to it is half the fun: a psychedelic meadow, a hot air balloon or an autumnally damp West End flat in Glasgow all come to mind. Just as genre-defying as the tracks you’d hear on the dancefloor, Sleepwalk comes across like a beautiful blur. Not so much soft focus as a misted up lens. Drifting across the mix is Damon’s Gypsy psyche, bucolic analogue ennui from mid-70s Germany, Lee Hazelwood at his most dissolute and intoxicated, Duke Ellington played straight, Arthur Russell and Karen Dalton juxtaposed as spectral songwriters, and a whole lot of fragments of considered musical beauty." Optimo (Espacio)

What we say: "It’s all too rare that commercial mix albums eschew all commercial considerations and are actually constructed like a brilliant mix tape made for you by a friend, designed to take you on a meandering trip through strange and beguiling musical backwaters." John Doran

29. A Guy Called Gerald - Black Secret Technology

What they said: "Rhythm helped early man to get in touch with the universe and his small part in it . . . I believe that these trance-like rhythms reflect my frustration to know the truth about my ancestors who talked with drums." Gerald Simpson

What we say: "It bursts with life: polyrhythms clatter without clutter, shaking your bones with devastating symmetry; vivid, shape-shifting electronics connect more intimately than organic sounds could; disembodied voices resonate, still snaking through your psyche long after you’ve stopped listening. The hit you get is one of impossible intensification: too much as a more accurate, heightened representation of real-life experience." Lee Arizuno
Read the full Quietus review of A Guy Called Gerald's Black Secret Technology

28. Throbbing Gristle - 32nd Annual Report

What they said: "Maybe we do reflect what people are like back to them. Some fear is triggered by it and bounced back at them . . . They never forget they've seen us. They don't think of us as being like other groups. They remember us as a different group – which is nice." Genesis P-Orridge

What we say: "Industrial Records have come out of storage in grease to release this limited edition, live recording commemoration of Throbbing Gristle's seminal The Second Annual Report. The Thirty Second Annual Report succeeds as an even more visceral and uncompromising listen to the original release. Technological advances have allowed TG to ramp up the power of their assault, the disturbing sampled speech of a paedophile's confession from 'Slug Bait', for instance, standing out all the clearer; the bass of 'Maggot Death' hulking away behind atonal and metallic scraping, ferocious clangs, and inhuman screams. 'Maggot Death' three is the whistling of Beezlebub's kettle, and the twenty minute 'After Cease To Exist' is an expansive take on the original, the tubulent innards workings of dark, sulphuric clouds. "We love you" cries one member of the audience. As I discovered while watching their astounding performance at the Primavera Festival this year, in the face of TG, such submission is inevitable." Luke Turner

27. Magazine - The Peel Sessions

What they said: "Mmm… not bad, for New Wave." Whispering Bob Harris on The Old Grey Whistle Test

What we say: "Some of the most beautiful moments remain the most obvious. 'Song From Under The Floorboards', in this BBC context, still holds one of the most fluid and infectious bass lines of any era and Devoto's lovely Dostoevsky twist 'I am angry, I am ill and I'm as ugly as sin' remains a delight." Mick Middles

Read the full Quietus review of Magazine's Peel Sessions

26. Various Artists - BBC Radiophonic Music

What they said: "People and planets and stars will become dust. And the dust will become atoms and the atoms will become... nothing! This is my ultimate victory! The destruction... of reality... itself!" Davros, Creator of the Daleks

What we say: "Derbyshire’s work would take several books to eulogise. 'Blue Veils and Golden Sands' is an eerie drift, out of this universe and closest in spirit to Aphex’s Ambient Works Volume Two. 'Ziwzih Ziwzih 00-00-00' is as bizarre as it is indescribable while still remaining catchy - a cybernetic harpsichord, earth’s core pulses, voices from another world. It kind of sounds like The Residents. It is the compositional techniques, the form that contribute towards the otherworldliness." Jonny Mugwump

Read the full Quietus review of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop reissues

25. 808 State - Ex El

What they said: "Nobody wants to see a load of idiots torturing themselves on stage with guitars any more. This is about machines, punk was about arm power. The muscles and sinews in dance music are when you're sweating your bollocks off on the dance floor." Graham Massey

What we say: "The second of the ZTT albums, ex:el is one of the best dance albums recorded; in the context of house music sitting alongside Frequencies by LFO and Leftism by Lefftfield. The Chemical Brothers obviously owe 808 State a debt of gratitude. Tracks such as 'Leo Leo' feature huge breakbeats, hectic techno bass pulses and ecstasy rush-triggering walls of noise. Despite its name, the dark technofied strata of 'Nephatiti', isn't so much an exercise in Egyptology as Ancoatsology, with its moody 3am sub bass and terrifyingly urban cyber acid breaks." John Doran

Read the full Quietus review of 808 State's Ex El

24. New Order - Low-Life

What they said: "What we want to do is present music without any of the peripheral rubbish around it. It doesn’t matter who played what solo or what instruments we used or even who we are. If people like the music, that’s what’s important; that’s what they’re buying." Barney Sumner

What we say: "Recently Julian Cope said that he thought bands from Liverpool were destined to fuck up because they were Celtic, and when you compare this to the Anglo-Saxon work ethic of Manchester bands (on the Factory label no less) you can see this is true. Industrious and industrial they churned out hits during this period (‘Confusion’, ‘Thieves Like Us’) like a Northern, overcoat-wearing Motown act. All really good bands worth their salt – or most at least - release a triumvirate of unbeatable consecutive albums, signalling a period where the creativity is at a peak. This is the middle album in New Order’s trio." John Doran

Read the full Quietus review of the New Order back catalogue reissues

23. Penguin Cafe Orchestra - Union Café

What they said: "I was on the beach sunbathing and suddenly a poem popped into my head. It started out 'I am the proprietor of the Penguin Cafe, I will tell you things at random' and it went on about how the quality of randomness, spontaneity, surprise, unexpectedness and irrationality in our lives is a very precious thing. And if you suppress that to have a nice orderly life, you kill off what's most important. Whereas in the Penguin Cafe your unconscious can just be." Simon Jeffes, PCO

What we say: "The idea of the Penguin Cafe was to be a sort of creative zone in which all the subconscious instincts we suppress so as to maintain order in our daily lives were allowed free and easy play. This could be a formula for chaos but, for all its unexpectedness, its juxtapositions of high classical and rustic folk, Penguin Cafe music is warm, tonal, accessible, generally brings a smile to the face in its playful and unlikely resolutions of opposites." David Stubbs

Read the full Quietus review of the Penguin Cafe Orchestra back catalogue reissues

22. Various Artists - Eine Kleine Nachtmusik Mix Tape

What they said: "I needed a break from the rave... Its been electro o'clock for about 5 years continuously so I wanted to make a more mellow record that's a bit more timeless." Riton aka Eine Kleine Nact Musik

What we say: "This tape was on constantly in the office for weeks. It was really killer because everyone wanted to listen to a lot of Krautrock because of the awesome Harmonia live album. But you know, don’t just take our word for it, download it for yourself by clicking here." The Quietus

Read the full Quietus review of the Eine Kleine Nachtmusik album

21. Soft Cell - Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret

What they said: "We could have made easy, safe moves all along. But we wanted to put emotion into electronic music. We were sick of people saying that electronic music was to suck your cheeks into, or to pose against the Berlin wall to. On the other hand is we wanted to be pop stars, which in a way nauseates me, we could have been really obvious and shallow." Marc Almond

What we say: "Quite simply one of the best albums of its decade, Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret makes up one of the four cornerstones of early 80s pop along with Lexicon Of Love by ABC, Dare by Human League and Architecture and Morality by OMD. Forget about the ubiquity of ‘Tainted Love’ and gird your loins against the heartbreaking rend of ‘Say Hello, Wave Goodbye’, immerse yourself into the shallow but satisfying experience of ‘Bedsitter’ and, still luring disco dollies to a life of vice, ‘Sex Dwarf’." John Doran

20. Various Artists - Top Ranking Santogold: A Diplo Dub

What they said: "All you need is a laptop now, you know. It’s like the playing field is even now for everybody. You have the internet to promote yourself, you don’t need money. If you got a wi-fi signal, you can fucking do whatever. Right now people are just making money on shows, doing things to promote their events because no one is spending money on CDs. I can either go buy a CD for $15 or go to a club, buy a few drinks, maybe get laid, and have a great night and then bootleg the CD tomorrow. But for DJs, because of the internet and the way things are changing, audiences are way more intelligent than they used to be." Diplo

What we say: "I first heard this when our pals at The Lipster had it on their site. I was like 'What the fuck is this mix? It's got all of my favourite reggae songs on it. And the Dead Kennedys.' Still sounds great now and the Mark Ronson pisstake is as funny as balls." John Doran

19. Various Artists - New Orleans Funk Volume Two

What they said: "I impose a rigid discipline in the studio. That might sound kinda brutal, but there's gotta be someone in that studio who knows exactly what's happening. And what everyone's aiming for. Also, when you're writing, producing an' arranging, you know what you want, so you jus' go in there and do it." Allen Toussaint, New Orleans Impresario and Producer

What we say: "I remember being at a party once and someone saying 'You know you can't really get a much better album than either New Orleans Funk or Saturday Night Fish Fry to put on at a party because the second you put it on everyone will start dancing. Even if they're sat down.' And then someone put this album on and everyone started dancing. As if on cue." John Doran

18. Various Artists - Nigeria Rock Special: Psychedelic Afro Rock & Fuzz Funk In 1970s Nigeria

What they said: "When most people think about Nigerian music they tend to think about Fela, afrobeat and hard edged funk. But that wasn’t the only sound rocking in Nigeria . . . Hell, it wasn’t even the most popular thing going. Weird-sounding, semi-derivative, pop rock like this was." Uchenna Ikonne, Nigerian record collector

What we say: "These Nigerian compilations on Sound Way are just brilliant. From the beautiful packaging, to the intelligent, bewitching selections; hopefully they’ll bring Nigerian pop music to a whole new audience like Manteca’s Ethiopiques series have been doing with Ethiopian jazz and funk." John Doran

17. Diamanda Galas - Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! live

What they said: "To listen to my music you have to have stamina else it's just not possible. To my mind some of the work that I do is not difficult, but I've heard a lot of it is. I don't quite get it, but that's what I'm told." Diamanda Galas

What we said: "Although Diamanda Galas hasn't released a studio album since 1994's John Paul Jones collaboration The Sporting Life, it is in a series of live albums that she continued to explore the capabilities of her startling and provocative voice and piano style. Indeed, the live setting seems to allow her greater freedom to explore textures and sounds beyond the capabilities of lesser artists. Throughout the intense Guilty, Guilty, Guilty, her first release since 2004, Galas takes themes of mortality and love from folk and blues standards like 'O Death' and 'Long Black Veil', exposing their dark and bitter truths with an intensity and honesty that few others can hope to meet." Luke Turner

16. Loop - Fade Out

What they said: "I've never worn my influences on my sleeve but never shied away from them either, a little bit of Stooges or MC5 and also Krautrock and so on - it was hopefully quite original. People always said it was quite psychedelic but it's not in any West Coast way. It's more about inner space than outer space." Robert Hampson

What we say: "Spacemen 3 might have been upper class but they were seriously outclassed by Loop. I used to lie round at my mate Stu's house in the dark on the floor and drink either cough mixture or Special Brew and listen to Fade Out. It was the fucking bomb, y'know?" John Doran

Read the full Quietus review of Loop's back catalogue reissues

15. Omar Rodriguez-Lopez - Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fungus

What they said: "All the people who end up on the record are just my friends, my environment because I've limited my life to just being in the studio, and I don't have a social life… this is one of the ways I can socialize with my friends. They know I'm not going out to a bar." Omar R-L

What we say: "It must have taken balls of solid titanium to break up At The Drive-In when they did but when Omar 'There's Nothing Like This' Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala peeled away there was an intense burst of creativity, some of it like this album, only seeing the light of day now. Recorded in a fertile sojourn in Amsterdam with the ill-fated Jeremy Ward, this is a work of jazz rock fusion that is close to genius and riffs on styles pinned down by King Crimson, Miles Davis, Jane's Addiction and Fugazi." John Doran

The List

30 Various Artists - Optimo Sleepwalk
29 A Guy Called Gerald - Black Secret Technology
28 Throbbing Gristle - 32nd Annual Report
27 Magazine - The Peel Sessions
26 Various Artists - BBC Radiophonic Music
25 808 State - Ex El
24 New Order - Low-Life
23 Penguin Cafe Orchestra Union Café
22 Various Artists Eine Kleine Nachtmusik Mix Tape
21 Soft Cell Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret
20 Various Artists Top Ranking Santogold: A Diplo Dub
19 Various Artists New Orleans Funk volume 2
18 Various Artists Nigeria Rock Special: Psychedelic Afro Rock & Fuzz Funk In 1970s Nigeria
17 Diamanda Galas Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!
16 Loop Fade Out
15 Omar Rodriguez-Lopez Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fungus

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 with any notes you want to include.

Read the rest of The Quietus' Self-Indulgent Reissues, Compilations and Mixes of the year list next Tuesday, December 9th. Who will be Number One? A world awaits, trembling. Legs like a shitting dogs'.