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Retro-Sexual: The Best Comps, Reissues And Mixes Of 2010
The Quietus , December 13th, 2010 03:44

The best of this year's best-ofs... and more...

Listen to our epic Reissues, Comilations, Mixes and Live Albums Spotify Playlist here

Last Monday we published Angst Music For Sex People: The Quietus Top 40 Albums Of 2010. Now it is the turn of compilations, reissues, mixes and live albums. The same rules apply here... no heed has been paid to trying to construct an interesting, aesthetically pleasing or diverse list, this is just a record of what the three Quietus staffers (John Doran, Luke Turner and Ben Hewitt) have been listening to this year. Being relatively in thrall to our own neo-phillia, obviously a compilation of Thai funk, Indian acid house or occult goth crunk is going to get the nod more often than an album we've heard a million times before but at the same time we've relished the excuse to immerse ourselves in the likes of Station To Station, Bitches Brew and Henry's Dream again.

Feel free to suggest your own reissues of the year below...

40. Judas Priest - British Steel

"While Judas Priest would arguably go on to better things, British Steel, is an important record in the overall fabric of British heavy metal, simply because it was one of the first proper heavy metal albums. While fellow Brummies Black Sabbath are often credited with the invention of the term 'heavy metal', a lot of their early material was founded largely on blues; something you could never level at British Steel. This and the fact that it contains a slew of stone-cold metal anthems, makes this record seminal, and therefore certainly worthy of lavish repackaging of this kind." Mark Eglinton

Read The Quietus review of British Steel

Click here to buy British Steel: 30th Anniversary (Deluxe Edition 2CD+DVD)

39. Jesus And Mary Chain - Upside Down

"The other myth steamrollered by this generous 44-track compilation is that the Jesus and Mary Chain became a spent force after the release of their debut. Indeed, to examine the evidence to the contrary is to discover a treasure trove of musical delights." Julian Marszalek

Read The Quietus review of Upside Down

Click here to buy Upside Down: The Best Of The Jesus & Mary Chain

38. Bardo Pond - Bufo Alvarius

"There aren't really any riffs on 'Adhesive', just reverb reverb REVERB, and that's what they choose to open the album with. 'Back Porch' has a certain linearity to it, in that there's an unmistakable Blue Cheer stoner-blues chord beating at its centre, as well as Isobel Sollenberger's abstract wail. (Not sure when exactly people started comparing her to Grace Slick, but it's definitely stuck to an extent. Let's be real, when you're given the chance in a Bardo Pond review to invoke someone who tried to put LSD in Nixon's cuppa, you're gonna do it, because you like corny old drug references, because you're lame.)" Noel Gardner

Read The Quietus review of Bufo Alvarius

Click here to buy Bardo Pond - Bufo Alvarius

37. Various Artists - Isvolt

"There's a great but useful irony to all compilations that get rushed out at the merest hint of a new scene or genre: no one really understands what the rules are yet and none of the conventions have become codified. There are plenty of "witch house" compilations coming out at the moment but this is easily best, roping in such newly emergent figures as Fostercare, Party Trash and Master Suspiria Vision with an unsettling sound that draws on goth, shoe gaze, Memphis and Houston hip hop traditions and darkly psychedelic ambient electronica." John Doran

Click here to buy Various Artists - Isvolt

36. Charanjit Singh - Synthesizing Ten Ragas To A Disco Beat

"In 2002 I went to India to look up and interview Bollywood composers and musicians, as I wanted to find out how this music was made and recorded. I landed in Delhi, and of course went to dusty and crowded old Delhi to look for records. In a shop I found Ten Ragas..., and was attracted by the title. Usually such records contain a very cheesy disco potpourri, but this title was just too good so I bought it. Back in my hotel I played at my portable player, and I was blown away. It sounded like acid house, or like an ultra minimal Kraftwerk. Since then I've had the plan to issue it, but it's only now I came round it."

Edo Bouman, Bombay Connection

Click here to buy Charanjit Singh - Synthesizing Ten Ragas To A Disco Beat

35. The Heads - Relaxing With The Heads

"This is kinetic, physical music, and The Heads played like Bristol were some outlying burg in America, and a Drive-In screening of Easy Rider had just given the local hairies some smart ideas. The album is saturated in psychedelic rock ambience, fuzz and wah clinging to the guitars like patchouli to a hippy, but The Heads play their mind-expanding game straight, with no kitsch-y smirks: everything about Relaxing With The Heads is overdriven to the point of glorious excess, vivid and lurid like a Roger Corman Biker B-Movie: cheap and wonderfully nasty, leaving something bitter and fizzy at the back of the throat." Stevie Chick

Read The Quietus review of Relaxing With The Heads

Click here to buy The Heads - Relaxing With the Heads

34. Galaxie 500 - Today

"They weren't a band who ever needed to change their sound, but to carry on doing what they did: to hone that downbeat grace, to embrace something no one was doing, something that no other band has really been able to replicate since. The material on these three albums is as fresh and as invigorating and as chest-tighteningly, heart-skippingly beautiful as it was the day they came out. Looking back and looking forward all at once. They've had their fair share of imitators, but listening to Galaxie 500 again only serves to confirm one thing: no one is ever going to come close." Ross Pounds

Read The Quietus review of Today

Click here to buy Galaxie 500 - Today: Deluxe Edition

33. Optimo (Espacio) - Fabric 52

"As one door shuts another opens. Sunday April 25 was the last Optimo (Espacio) party at the Sub Club in Glasgow. JD Twitch and JG Wilkes have been organizing Scotland’s most (rightfully) celebrated club night for the last 13 years and have put the night out to pasture in order to concentrate on other DJing, remixing and music related projects. Twitch (Keith McIvor), an Edinburgh born acid house fan, and Johnny Wilkes, a Belfast punk, met through the Pure night. Bored with the state of clubbing in the late 90s the pair formed Optimo as an excuse to play the kind of music that they never heard out. Whether that be EBM, techno, acid house, industrial, minimal, disco, funk, post punk… their only rules were to use the freedom of a Sunday night residency as freedom from the tyranny of the four to the floor house night hegemony. The pair will still occasionally be found DJing at Optimo Presents nights at the Sub but it certainly feels like this and the Fabric mix are drawing a line under this chapter of their career." John Doran

Read the Quietus Optimo feature here

Click here to buy Fabric52 - Optimo (Espacio): Mixed By Optimo

32. A Certain Ratio - Force

"The hinge moment on Force is undoubtedly 'Mickey Way'. This proved to be the slab of quality funk to which they always aspired. For anyone who hung around Manchester in 1987, it remains impossible to hear this song without being instantly transported to vision of Hacienda bollards; of a club finally coming to terms with an influx of house and truly a parallel club to New York's Paradise Garage. Indeed more than that, in the entire span of pre-Madchester Hacienda, only A Guy Called Gerald's 'Voodoo Ray' retains a more evocative effect. This remains a time travel song built from the steely influence of George Clinton." Mick Middles

Read The Quietus review of Force

Click here to buy A Certain Ratio - Force

31. Various Artists - Palenque Palenque: Champeta Criolla and Afro-Roots in Columbia 1975-1991

"The Caribbean coast of Colombia has had a long relationship with Africa stretching back to the 17th Century. In the 1970s and ‘80s the sound system culture of the towns of Barranquilla and Cartagena started looking to Africa once again for musical influence. The DJs and ‘picos’ (soundsystems) began to play imported modern African and Caribbean Creole music alongside Colmbian hits and the ‘Champeta’ sound was born."


Click here to buy Palenque Palenque: Champeta Criolla and Afro-Roots in Columbia 1975-1991

30. Various Artists - Rough Trade Synth Wave 10

"Making an invaluable counterpoint to the likes of Angular's Cold Waves & Minimal Electronics and Stones Throw's The Minimal Wave Tapes Vol One albums, the latest Rough Trade compilation looks at the wealth of modern bands using these genres as a jumping off point today. Combining strands of Cold Wave with early electro, synth pop and industrial are the likes of Factory Floor, Xeno and Oaklander, Cosmetics and Cold Cave." John Doran

Click here to buy Rough Trade Shops: Synth Wave 2010

29. Shackleton - Fabric 55

"His contribution to the Fabric mix series, as well as providing a document of his totally immersive, intensely danceable live set, also works as a formidable consolidation of everything he's put together so far. As with both Omar-S and Ricardo Villalobos' Fabric mixes, it consists of entirely his own material. But unlike those discs' relatively straightforward construction, where each individual track is given space to breathe, at the root of Shackleton's mix lie the strange, claustrophobic things that happen when several collide at once and stack upon one another. Indeed, what makes fabric55 so special, and the finest addition to the series so far, is that it transcends the limits of a typical mix CD. By slicing his tracks into tiny individual pieces - lithe strands of percussion, distant, dissonant string drones, the downpitched incantations of 'Hypno Angel' – Shackleton is able to maintain a single motif throughout long stretches, lose it among the percussive fray then resurrect it later on during an entirely separate track." Rory Gibbs

Read The Quietus review of Fabric 55

Click here to buy Fabric55 - Shackleton: Mixed By Shackleton

28. Various Artists - The Exploding Disco Inevitable

"This year Finders Keepers Records is five years old. Since its inception, the label has reissued and uncovered a vast and diverse range of music taking in Persian funk, Welsh folk, proto-feminist Czech cinema soundtracks, German library music and Pakistani electronic pop. And that’s just for starters. It's grown into something of a dream for those of us who are hungry for unheard sounds - entirely reliable and completely unpredictable. The music alone would be more than enough reason for celebration but they should also be worshipped for a profoundly anti-snobbish attitude. Every release is stuffed full of impeccably researched notes charting cultural histories and large personalities - Finders Keepers are educational without assuming anything on the part of the listener, and they side-step dodgy notions of high and low culture." Jonny Mugwump

Read the Quietus Finders Keepers article here.

Click here to buy Exploding Disco Inevitable

27. The Cure - Disintegration

"Disintegration has been described as a sequel to 1982's wrist-slitting fan favourite, Pornography. Yet the two albums are very different. Pornography is dense, claustrophobic and virtually tuneless - in the best possible sense. Turgid and deliberately ugly, drowning in self-pity and occasionally lashing out with bursts of savage loathing, Pornography sounds like depression feels: sucking all positive energy into a black hole of utter negativity. But Disintegration is spacious and melodic, and filled with moments of great beauty. Its pace is stately and elegiac. Bells twinkle like stars in the midnight sky; melodic basslines weave their way through the gentle sadness of sighing guitars and keyboards that rise up like glaciers. Certainly, to the unaccustomed ear, there is doom and gloom aplenty; the abyss is never far away. But this is the Cure we're talking about, after all. These things are relative. Disintegration is a melancholy record, but not a depressed one." Ben Graham

Read the Quietus review of Disintegration here.

Click here to buy Disintegration (Deluxe Edition)

26. Various Artists - To Scratch Your Heart: Early Recordings from Istanbul

"All the music presented here is non-religious. Folk and classical traditions are mixed, sometimes crossed. Most of the singers are hafiz - that is, versed in a musical reading of the Koran, and renowned for mastery of the gazel. Here, a musical setting is improvised - according to the makam system of corresponding modal sets - for poetry of the soul, wine, love and beauty."

Gokhan Ara in the liner notes of To Scratch Your Heart

Click here to buy To Scratch Your Heart: Early Recordings from Istanbul

25. Chris & Cosey - Heartbeat

"After Throbbing Gristle ground to a halt in 1981, Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti embarked on a remarkable career of exploring dark electronics, synth pop and electro together. This is the first of their joint albums originally released by Rough Trade and now lovingly reissued on vinyl by CTI." John Doran

Read Scott McKeating's interview with Chris Carter here

Click here to buy Chris & Cosey - Heartbeat

24. Wooden Shjips - Vol 2

"Wooden Shjips are clearly subscribers to the theory that anything containing more than three chords is jazz. Their adherence to this theory has led them to scale back to the degree that one chord, one note or one riff is quite enough to be going on with, thank you very much. And more power to them, for this is a band that utterly revels in the sheer stupidity that minimalist lysergic rock has to offer.

"Originally designed to be an output for non-musicians, Wooden Shjips manage to do much with very little. So it is that Vol. 2 is a fine collection of rarities, foreign label releases and tour souvenir cuts that acts as a pit stop until these cosmic rough riders propel their next full-length album through your third eye to mainline straight to your addled brain." Julian Marszalek

To read the full Quietus review click here.

Click here to buy Wooden Shjips - Vol 2

23. Wire - Send Ultimate

"There are so many treasures in Wire's back catalogue, it's often hard to know in which exact location you should be mining for them - particularly with any critical rapture still tending to focus on their fantastic debut Pink Flag and the epochal third LP 154. But one of the most pleasing aspects of their 2010 renaissance, which included them playing two Quietus-curated shows with Factory Floor and LoneLady, has been the spotlight it has thrown on their more overlooked records. This year's reissue of Send, then, was very welcome indeed: a more brutal affair than their new album Red Bark Tree, it's a clear riposte to anyone who thinks that Wire just deal in taut and tight post-punk with the bracing 'The Agfers Of Kodack' and slow-burn menace of '99.9', while 'Being Watched' surely counts as one of Colin Newman's most joyfully virile moments. Sure, a lot of the material is culled from the Read and Burn EPs, but when it's this much more complex and compelling than anything that most post-punk bands could muster, does it really matter?" Ben Hewitt

Read Wire discussing their new album Red Barked Tree here

Click here to buy Wire - Send Ultimate

22. Juan Maclean - DJ Kicks

"It would probably be an overstatement to say the story of John Maclean was one of redemption or deliverance, but it is true that the New Yorker has faced a demon or two on his way. Maclean has waded through a drug addiction that took him almost to the point of irrevocable destruction; the dissolution of a band beset by tragedy; and eventually a profound apathy towards the plasticity of the scenes he found himself in that made him give up music altogether. While averting total disaster, that's a lot of spanners in the works." Barnaby Smith

Read the full Quietus interview here

Click here to buy Juan Maclean - DJ Kicks

21. Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - Henry's Dream

"None of 2010's batch of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds reissues may be on a par with From Her To Eternity - re-released last year along with three other Bad Seeds albums - but Henry's Dream surely comes close. Cave may have reportedly had misgivings about the work of long-term Neil Young collaborator David Briggs, but the producer's commitment to recording live in the studio helped capture Cave's bitter romanticism at its most poignant. Whether he's picking over the remains of a doomed relationship in 'Straight To You' or taking a moonlight stroll with a loved one in 'Loom Of The Land', he's never anything less than utterly compelling." Ben Hewitt

Read The Quietus interview with Nick Cave and Jim Sclavunous of Grinderman here

Click here to buy Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - Henry's Dream

20. Congotronics - Box Set

"Anyone who has spent time in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, will know that it's a city that bustles with an industrious and infectious energy. Maybe it was living there that inspired Mawangu Mingiedi to take that energy and apply it like jump leads to the Bazombo trance music he had grown up with near the Angolan border. In doing so, he created a band called Konono No.1 and revolutionised a musical tradition that stretched back hundreds of years. The impact Konono No.1 have had on Bazombo music has been literally electrifying. When Mingiedi found himself unable to find the sound he was looking for using traditional instruments he took it upon himself to build the first ever electric likembe. The likembe is a kind of handheld piano played with the thumbs, but amplification using magnets salvaged from old cars transformed it. When the band plays the likembe on stage it looks like they're operating oversized remote controls. It sounds like nothing you've ever heard before." Kevin Perry

Read the Quietus Congotronics feature here.

Click here to buy Congotronics: Limited Edition Boxset

19. Various Artists - The Sound Of Siam: Leftfield Luk Thung, Jazz And Molam From Thailand, 1964 - 1975

"Despite being one of the few Asian countries never to have been colonized by Europeans, Thailand is very open culturally, with its indigenous music being influenced by China, India and much further afield. The Luk Thung of the title (literal translation: children of the fields) is the equivalent of country music, while Molam refers to the vigorous Laotian strand of folk pop that features urgent, almost rapped vocals. There are three tracks by Thailand’s leading female Molam singer Chaweewan Dumnern whose ‘Sao Lam Plearn’ sounds like the SE Asian Jumping Jack Flash’. Yet again Soundway have struck gold with this curious and rewarding compilation."

John Doran writing in The Stool Pigeon newspaper

Click here to buy Soundway Records Presents The Sound Of Siam : Leftfield Luk Thung, Jazz And Molam From Thailand 1964 - 1975

18. Various Artists - Disco Discharge: The Pink Pounders

"I came out at a Disco, the Masquerade in London's Earls Court Road to be exact. It was situated in the basement of the local launderette (but then weren't they all at this early period in Disco's development that would see the expansion from tiny supper club to hi-tech hanger) and consisted of two large-ish rooms. One had a miniscule mirror-walled dance floor at the end. The other was where the Alkasura label (think early Vivienne Westwood) fashion queens congregated and ate the tiny salad that had to be a legal provision as per the outdated late-night licensing laws. You could only serve alcohol if some food was provided in the not so swinging 1971. I was taken to the Masquerade by a fellow work mate who had obviously guessed I was gay before I even knew myself. And to Isaac Hayes' 'Theme from Shaft' I was picked up by a Spanish tourist and finally realized why I never felt comfortable with having girlfriends." Alan Jones

Read the Quietus feature on the gayest of disco here.

Click here to buy Disco Discharge - Pink Pounders

17. David Bowie - Station To Station

"The proverbial Peruvian is all over this record, but not in an over-produced, airbrushed Rumours way. Station to Station is shiny but spare, harsh; it captures the jagged edge, the exquisite balancing act between the high and the comedown, and the sense of feeling hugely emotional at the same time as feeling completely numb and detached that is a typical symptom of fast white drugs (speed, E, coke). Similarly the intellectual grandstanding, paranoia and occultism, barely masking an inner desperation; having made a career out of wearing masks, inventing personas, analysing his emotions from a distance and then acting them out, Bowie seems desperate for a way out of his situation." Ben Graham

Read The Quietus review here

Click here to buy David Bowie - Station To Station

16. Miles Davis - Bitches Brew

"A lot of people try and get into this hypnotic thing where they don't know what they're getting ready to do but the musicians are just not intense enough. With Miles Davis it's just about the intensity. There's something about the things going on and there are subtle changes going on but at the same time it's like 'This is what you're doing motherfuckers!' And they're all great musicians and they're all concentrating on this thing but it's obviously because of Miles. They're scared shitless that they're going to play the wrong thing or play it out of context and Miles is going to physically [attack them] and say 'Motherfucker!' And I think you can feel that. Miles doesn't even come into some of these jams for quite a bit. You're kind of waiting for the ship to get to a certain point in the ocean before getting on board. It's just repetitive enough that you don't worry... the mood just builds and builds and builds." Wayne Coyne

Read John Lydon, Nick Cave, Paul Weller, Mike Patton, Iggy Pop and Jason Pierce discuss their favourite Miles Davis albums

Click here to buy Miles Davis - Bitches Brew

15. Various Artists - The Minimal Wave Tapes Vol One

"It's more avant garde. It's delves deeply into how out there the artists of this era could be. Which is pretty far out. We licenced the Stereo track 'Somewhere in The Night' from Minimal Wave, and communicated with them to make sure we didn't overlap with the tracklistings. We kept in touch to compare notes on how the comps were doing, I think the fact that there were two at the same time was mutually beneficial to both of them. Everybody loves a scene. I like lots of [tracks on the album]. 'Game And Performance' by Deux was one we wanted for our comp but MW wouldn't let us have it, exquisite French pop, like 'Polaroid Roman Photo' by Ruth. 'Moscu Esta Helado' by Esplendor Geometrico is great, it sounds like 'Higher State Of Consciousness' and 'Caramel' by Cluster. But my fave is 'Flying Turns' by Crash Course in Science, it's weird, intense, new wavey and it sounds like a hot summer sidewalk getting hotter. Also LCD Soundsystem blatantly ripped it off for 'Losing My Edge'."

Joe Daniel on the difference between The Minimal Wave Tapes Vol 1 and his Angular compilation Cold Waves and Minimal Electronics Vol 1

Click here to buy Minimal Wave Tapes Volume 1

14. Chris Carter - The Spaces Between

"Cosey Fanni Tutti, Sleazy, Genesis P-Orridge and... Chris. An example, if needed, that Chris Carter was always the least obviously peacock of the Throbbing Gristle quartet. Having won the heart of industrial music's only pin-up Cosey (his partner of thirty years), and in doing so exposing the growing cracks in Throbbing Gristle's united front, Carter's solo career began before TG imploded. He may well have had the technological improvisational know-how to make him the ideal backroom boffin, but Chris Carter is rightfully as well known now for his musical creativity as he is for his skill with a circuit board and a computer. His debut solo record The Spaces Between was released on TG's own Industrial Records back in 1980, and was reissued in 1991 by Mute Records. Over thirty years on, the original The Spaces Between still sounds fresh, a series of rhythmic minimalist rushes that predated the minimalist techno boom and influenced an army of bedroom experimenters."

Read Scott McKeating's interview with Chris Carter here

Click here to buy Chris Carter - The Spaces Between

13. Godflesh - Streetcleaner

"[Streetcleaner] is an album that still remains a low water mark in nihilism and misanthropy, delivered with uttermost militancy in musical intensity and lyrical bile. There were antecedents to this astounding album, it combined the oppressive machine beats of Throbbing Gristle with the torrential noise of Swans’ Cop and married it to the anti-disco tribal pulse of early Killing Joke and the abrasive vocal delivery of Grindcore. It’s just that this mix proved to be Hellishly perfect. Most brilliant (and some awful), machine tooled metal and industrial from the 90s onwards can trace its ancestry back to this uncompromising vision of a man made hell on earth."

John Doran writing in Metal Hammer magazine

Click here to buy Godflesh - Streetcleaner

12. Various Artists - Pomegranates

"It’s no accident that the phoenix is an exacted moral, mythical and figurative symbol in Iran. Like the phoenix, Iranian culture is in constant flux an, at times, elusive, with its existential wavering and blurred panoramas. Most of contemporary Iran’s artistic and creative leanings, its grapples with history and identity are loosely and mystically conjoined and contested in memory." Mahssa Taghinia

Read the Quietus Finders Keepers article here.

Click here to buy Pomegranates

11. Ruth - Polaroid/Roman/Photo

"It's the early '80s, and Thierry Müller, a graphic artist and krautrock fan from Paris, has decided to put his experimental rock group Ilitch on hold and make something, as he puts it, 'that people could dance to'. The result is Ruth, a conceptual project that exists for just one album, 1985's Polaroïd/Roman/Photo. Seven tracks long, it is a remarkable piece of experimental but danceable new-wave, and nowhere more remarkable than the title track – an icy-cold cut of flickering synthesiser, taut guitar and jagged saxophone featuring disconsolate boy-girl vocals and the mechanical click-spool sound of a Polaroid camera.

Polaroïd/Roman/Photo is not a success. History has it that the record sells in the region of 50 copies, and before long, Müller's interest has strayed elsewhere... But this is not the end for Ruth. By the year 2000, the track 'Polaroïd/Roman/Photo' has been rediscovered and is being recirculated by an international underground of collectors and music fans entranced by the early groups of France's la vague froid – the movement that became known internationally as 'cold wave'." Louis Pattison

Read Louis Pattison's interview with Thierry Müller

Click here to buy Ruth - Polaroid/Roman/Photo

10. Liars - Live

"Liars are a band defined by the bubbles they've inhabited over the years. Trapped in the Brooklyn post-punk bubble for their appropriately named 2002 debut, They Threw Us All In A Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top, the band escaped of the dance-punk tag by retreating to an isolated house in New Jersey. Free of Williamsburg's hipsters, the band turned inwards, sinking into their own personal bubble and producing the phenomenal, though initially poorly received, They Were Wrong So We Drowned. Relocating to Berlin, Drums Not Dead andLiars benefited from the disassociation that comes with the expatriate lifestyle. Unable to speak the language, which effectively cut them off from large chunks of the surrounding culture, the band were once again free to focus on making what they wanted within a space influenced by little more than their own creative urges." Charles Ubaghs

Read the Queitus review of Sisterworld here

9. Various Artists - The World Ends: Afro Rock & Psychedelia in 1970s Nigeria

"It was against a backdrop of a country recovering from a civil war that much of this astonishing compilation, the result of yet another fine treasure hunt from Soundway, was recorded. By unselfconsciously blending the (to us) familiar heady sounds of 60s psych and groove with traditional African rhythms andinstrumentations, these songs capture a sense of release and optimism, and a new music being forged a million miles from Western hippydom’s desperate decline." Luke Turner

Luke Turner writing in The Stool Pigeon newspaper

Click here to buy The World Ends: Afro Rock & Psychedelia in 1970's Nigeria

8. Virgo - Virgo

"There were two different Virgos on Trax, the other one being the Virgo of Adonis, Marshall Jefferson and Vince Lawrence. That was one of Larry's (Sherman, Trax label boss) ideas. He felt since we were unkown and our stuff was in the same vibe that it would add some name recognition. Our name was M.E. (Merwyn & Eric). We were very against Larry changing it. We were somewhat furious, but finally went along with it because we were so into doing the music and not so worried about a name." Their first single, Virgo Four 'Do You Know Who You Are', was finally release in 1989. A second single 'Ride' quickly followed in the same year, this time, oddly enough, under their M.E. alias. A year after the 'Summer Of Love', house music was in full swing in the UK, where 'Do You Know Who You Are' was picked up and led Sherman to combine both singles and license these out as the Virgo (this timne leaving 'Four' off) album to Radikal records. Their second single as M.E. was released a year later. 'Winter Days & Summer Nights', which featured r&b singer Yvonne Gage ('Garden Of Eve'), stalled pretty quickly after Sherman refused to promo this to a local Chicago radio station. Merwin: 'Larry told us they wanted it on cd to play it, and Larry refused to give them a cd, he said the vinyl pressing should've been good enough. We thought "Aw geesh, you gotta' be kidding me!" Christiaan Macdonald

Click here to buy Virgo - Virgo

7. Various Artists - Down To The Sea And Back

Down To The Sea And Back was an album that I chanced across while waiting for a friend in Manchester's excellent Picadilly Records. Now, even though I sometimes tend to agree with one of our writers who insists that Balearic is a synonym for "a little bit shit", there is no doubting the sheer and unexpected luxuriousness of this album compiled by Kelvin Andrews and Balearic Mike. The Danny Mekanik re-edits of long-since forgotten gems by Fern Kinney and The Osmonds sit comfortably next to underlit-floor funk rock (Sweet 'Funk It Up'), euphoric neo-post punk (Bell X1 'Flame' (Chicken Lips mix) and festive Euro disco (Nacht Und Nebel 'Beats Of Love'). A treat for open-minded hedonists. John Doran

Click here to buy Down To The Sea And Back: The Continuing Journey Of The Balearic Beat. Volume 1.

6. Simian Mobile Disco - Delicacies

"The Quietus' party tape this winter is a selection of pounding acid/techno bangers all produced on creaking and wheezing analogue synthesizer equipment; with each track named after particularly bracing examples of world cuisine, sampled on a recent SMD world tour." John Doran

Click here to buy SMD - Delicacies

5. Einsturzende Neubauten - Strategies Against Architecture IV

"Einstürzende Neubauten currently travel the world on a 30th anniversary tour that is probably as much about paying the bills as marking a milestone. Approaching an imminent hiatus, they leave behind this varied yet cohesive record of the last eight years, a period of creativity that belies the band's three decades. It's a virile, nuanced alternative to a lot of the flat pop around at the moment, and suggests that there could be a lot more to come. Or it could equally be deemed a fitting full stop." Tim Burrows

Read The Quietus review of Strategies Against Architecture IV here

Click here to buy Einsturzende Neubauten - Strategies Against Architecture IV

4. Omar Souleyman - Jazeera Nights

"A few muttered words in Arabic, shrouded in echo. And then it erupts. A day-glo cloudburst of warpspeed Bontempi rhythms and snaking microtonal melodies. Psychedelic invocation to some lascivious simultaneist idol. Urgent glossolalia of electronic thunder and lightning. Amphetamine-powered merengué of dysmorphic frequencies. Notes from between the notes. Beats like the jerry-rigged machine gun fire of ex-urban guerrila fighters. Cosmopolitan party music from the end times. The death rattle of globalisation, echoing across the scarred plains of bomb-ravaged dreamscapes." Robert Barry

Read the full Quietus review here

Click here to buy Omar Souleyman - Jazeera Nights

3. Suede - Best Of

"As you swagger and sway from that starting gun, Suede's consistency is impressive as the eighteen tracks pass – 'Everything Will Flow', the third single from 1998's Head Music, for instance, sounds just as vital as 'Metal Mickey' and 'The Drowners'. Nevertheless, it's hard not to smile at the recurrence of certain phrases and ideas. As a teenager, whenever a new Suede album would come out my friends and I would play Suede Bingo, pointing out any references to cigarettes, petrol and urban skylines. We were becoming cynical even then, hardening in our skinny bones. But now I am older, 'The Wild Ones', 'We Are The Pigs' and 'Stay Together' fill my mortgaged living room, I recognise the songs for what they really are – amplified experiences of our lives when we were so young and so gone, when our inner worlds are constantly getting twisted and tainted, influenced by everything, emerging in our mouths and our bodies in dark, dramatic forms." Jude Rogers

Read the full Quietus review here

Click here to buy Suede - The Best Of

2. The Fall - The Wonderful And Frightening World Of (Omnibus Edition)

"Under the Beggars Banquet/4AD/Mattador offices in South West London lies their secret weapon: a large basement archive. When TWAFWO... was first released in 1984 it only had nine tracks on vinyl. Various editions (cassette, CD) since have stretched to 16; this excellent box containing a book and four discs makes it 50. On top of Peel session material come a swathe of excellent versions completed for David ‘Kid’ Jensen and one for the BBC’s Saturday Live show, which includes a toe-curling attempt by a hapless DJ to interview Smith about their 'change in direction'. Another disc is given over to an ace 50-minute live show recorded at Pandora’s Music Box Festival for VPRO Radio. But the real eye-openers are the rough and demo mixes which show just how much Brix Smith was in the process of changing the sound of this country’s pre-eminent post punk group ushering in their imperial phase."

John Doran writing in Classic Rock Magazine

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1. Various Artists - Cold Waves & Minimal Electronics

"Despite the icy, clinical connotations of the term cold wave, translated from the French la vague froid, this is a profoundly human album. Laden with brass these are organic creations that act as a kind of reappraisal for analogue synths and drum machines over digital music software. French group OTO's 'Anyway' careers deranged like an electronic freakbeat outfit willed on by a sax-less James Chance. Manu Moan, singer in Swiss band the Vyllies, wails about the devil over metronomic beat and troubling keyboards on 'Babylon'. Italy's Jeuneusse d'Ivoire's 'A Gift of Tears' begins like a fragile Joy Division dancefloor filler re-imagined by Neu! before soaring along a dream-like freeway." Tim Burrows

Read the full Quietus review here

Click here to buy Cold Waves and Minimal Electronics Vol.1