10 Lucy - Year 41 p.r.S.P.
Pixie and I, after reviewing our holidays and cash-ola situation for the year, decided not to attend the Cropredy Festival, which happened last weekend. The line-up this year didn't really seem like a "must see" event, especially after the 40th anniversary of Fairport Convention last year, which saw the remaining members of the 1969 version of the band perform the Liege & Lief album in it's entirety. This year, aside from Supergrass, Stackridge and The Family Mahone - I wasn't that jazzed about much. The Muffin Men (featuring Jimmy Carl Black) put on an excellent set at Cropredy a couple of years ago and it was nice to see "the Indian of the group" still rocking out, but I wasn't too fussed about missing their 2008 performance. So, no Cropredy report this year...it turned out that the weather was pretty horrible last weekend and we were actually glad we didn't go. I heard that Legend, the Bob Marley tribute band, lifted the crowd's spirits on a very rainy Saturday--but still, definitely glad I wasn't standing out there, trying to get my ticket money's worth. The Green Man Festival is happening this weekend, but again, we couldn't make it. It would've been nice to catch it before it gets really huge and becomes "just another festival". We may go next year...fingers crossed...
I was randomly checking out links on some friend's blogs and saw an article about David Byrne and Brian Eno's new record (their first full collaboration since My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts, released in 1981), called Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, on The Quietus. If that wasn't cool enough - I found a review for the re-issued Penguin Cafe Orchestra albums. Wha???? When did that happen? Turns out they were just released last month...but it's times like that, that I miss working in a record store. All of the studio albums and the live one, When In Rome, have been re-released on Virgin. The PCO records haven't had the treatment yet--especially the first three, which have only been released on disc once, in the late 80s--so you don't get a feeling of deja vu with say, Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin, whose catalogues are now on their fourth series of CD re-masters. I've ordered the first two albums, Music From The Penguin Cafe, first released in 1976 and the follow-up, Penguin Cafe Orchestra, released in 1981. I plan on buying the others in the coming months.
Here's some more re-issues that have grabbed my attention recently:
My Bloody Valentine - Loveless (2 CD-set): The indie-rock equivalent of a Beatles reunion (well, since The Pixies' reunion a few years ago) happened earlier this year and now a deluxe edition of their second, and most oft-imitated, album, is being made available. The first disc is a re-master by the band's sonic guru, singer and guitarist, Kevin Shields and the second disc is supposedly a lost mix from 1991 from the original tapes. I've ordered it and can't wait to hear it. I didn't get to see them live this year, so to have a re-issued "Loveless" will be a fine salve for any disappointment. There's a re-master of their first full-length, Isn't Anything, on the way too - though Amazon's showing a 2010 (!) release date at the moment. Typical Kevin Shields...making us wait yet again.
Supersister - Present From Nancy/To The Highe$t Bidder/Pudding En Gisteren/Iskander: Supersister were a Dutch progressive rock band with a strong "Canterbury scene", as well as Frank Zappa, influence (amongst other things). They were relatively unknown outside of Holland--but interest in their music has been picking up in recent years, mainly due to their reformation in the late 90s, but also through prog-rock internet forums. I first heard them when I bought the Supernatural Fairy Tales prog box-set (Supersister's track Radio, from the "Pudding En Gisteren" album, is featured) about ten years ago. Their stuff was out-of-print for a long while and tough to find. Esoteric Recordings have changed that with their re-issues of the first four records. I've bought the first three ("Nancy", "Bidder" and "Pudding") and they sound great. The booklets seem well-researched, with lots of rare photos and of course, 'restored artwork'. I would recommend these to any prog-fan, not just the hardcore collectors. Esoteric have also done an excellent job with their series of Man and Egg re-issue discs too.
Hawkwind - Space Ritual (Collector's Edition): One of the best live albums ever (i.m.h.o.) was first released on CD in the early-90s, but that edition (released on One Way Records in the U.S.) sounded a bit flat. EMI then re-issued all of the early Hawkwind albums (up to Hall Of The Mountain Grill) in 2001, with bonus tracks and better-sounding mixes. The '01 "Space Ritual" also restored two tracks that were edited on the original LP set, due to time constraints, Brainstorm and Time We Left (This World Today). Last year, a 3-disc "collector's edition" of "Space Ritual" was released...2 CDs and a DVD with 5.1 surround-sound mix and trippy visuals (sadly, no concert footage of the original shows--none probably exists, as any camera crew at the time would've been as stoned as the band and audience). I bought the '92 One Way re-issue, so I figured it was time for an upgrade and went for the 2007 edition, though you can still buy the 2001 re-master, if you want to save a bit of dosh.
Genesis - The 'Peter Gabriel-era' albums: The Genesis double-disc SACD + DVD series finally gets around to the really good stuff. According to Amazon, all of the albums from Trespass to The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, will be released on September 15th. I'll be shelling out for them...for the third time now. The two that I've bought already, Trick Of The Tail and Wind & Wuthering, sound excellent--and the bonus stuff on each DVD is definitely worth owning ("Trick Of.."'s DVD has the complete Genesis In Concert film from 1976). They're a bit pricey, so I'll probably buy a couple at a time...probably start with Nursery Cryme and Foxtrot (my two faves from Genesis' early prog phase). These re-issues will be getting plenty of disc-player time in the next few months. Oh yeah, there's a boxed set with all of the 1970-75 albums in it....but it's £95!! You do get a bonus disc of rare tracks, but most of them have already been released as part of the Genesis Archive 1967-1975 box.
Love - Forever Changes (Collector's Edition): Arthur Lee & Co.'s masterwork also gets it's third re-issue on CD. I thought the 2001 release, with bonus tracks, was the definitive version. I guess some more alternate mixes were located and so Elektra Records (or whomever owns them now) have churned out this 2-disc edition. The first disc is the complete album, re-mastered again and the second disc has all of the extras. I'm guessing the booklet has been expanded as well, with some more anecdotes about the making of the record and the eventual demise of the 1967/'68 line-up of L.A.'s premier psychedelic band (sorry, Doors fans--I like them, too, but Love seemed a lot more creative to me). The collector's edition will probably only appeal to the obsessive Love fans--the rest will probably just keep their 2001 re-issue.
The Orb - The Island albums (Pomme Fritz to Cydonia): The re-issues of The Orb's Island Records output has now finished. Each 2-CD set has the original set on one disc and a bonus disc of unearthed early mixes from studio sessions, plus a few mixes only included on CD single releases. The booklets contain informative essays by Kris Needs, who was a member of the group at the time the albums were recorded and toured. My only (small) complaint is that the artwork seems a bit 'fuzzy'--not as crisp as on the original releases. Maybe that will be addressed in later pressings. After "Cydonia" in 2001, The Orb left Island and their work has appeared on various labels, such as Kompakt. The quality has inevitably dipped a bit as well, but then, it's probably very tough to top a brilliant record like Orbus Terrarum. I recommend the new re-issues, especially "Pomme Fritz", never the easiest album to enjoy--but the bonus disc will provide a more relaxing listen, when compared to the abrasiveness of the original record.