For a special new year edition of Vinyl Corner, instead of rating a specific vinyl release as we usually do, we’re going to instead count down a list of 15 records we’d love to see reissued throughout this coming year.
Kate Bush – ‘Aerial’
OK, let’s be honest here: the whole Kate Bush discography could do with a reissue. Bush is famously unsentimental about her own past work and seems to have an allergic reaction to the idea of her own discography being easy to find. Although her entire output is genius, ‘Ariel’ is one of her finest albums and, frustratingly, the most expensive by far. With a Discogs median currently sitting at an excruciating £240, trying to secure a copy of the small-run 2005 release isn’t difficult per se (there’s plenty for sale online at the time of writing) but it is ludicrously expensive. To add insult to injury, quality control is famously hit and miss on the release, with some copies suffering from considerable surface noise even from new. Whilst all of Bush’s later work is expensive and scarce on wax, it’s ‘Aerial’ which packs the heftiest financial punch.
Juana Molina – ‘Wed 21’
Long-term readers will know this isn’t the first time we’ve mentioned Juana Molina in a Vinyl Corner feature, as we previously featured last year’s brilliant ‘Halo’ (read here). 2013’s ‘Wed 21’s was that album’s predecessor and, although almost all of Molina’s discography ranges from pricey but attainable (‘Son’) to practically impossible to find (‘Segundo’), it’s ‘Wed 21’ that we think is most desperately in need of a reissue. Although the album had a bizarrely small run of 500 copies, for years after release it was affordable; so much so that the median value on Discogs still sits at a perfectly reasonable £20. Problematically, however, the release went for £80 on the same site some months ago and, ever since, those selling it online have jacked their prices up to the region of £60+. A great album, certainly – but is any record worth that much? Given the recent release of ‘Halo’ and the even more recent first-time vinyl pressing of 2008’s ‘Un Dia’, now seems like a great time to make ‘Wed 21’ available on vinyl once again.
Queens Of The Stone Age – ‘Songs For The Deaf’
Perhaps the most high-profile entry on this list, ‘Songs For The Deaf’ is possibly the best known and most acclaimed album from one of modern Rock’s essential bands, Queens Of The Stone Age. To satiate the huge demand for the album, the record has been heavily counterfeited/bootlegged but even those unofficial pressings fetch a not inconsiderable sum, and official copies are incredibly expensive – with the US pressing on red vinyl packing a roughly £200 punch, with the UK version going for an only marginally more reasonable £170. QOTSA’s discography has never been the best managed in terms of vinyl pressings and ‘Songs For The Deaf’ isn’t the only one of their albums in need of a reissue (their debut and 2007’s ‘Era Vulgaris’ could both do with re-release) but the fact that they’ve let their best known record go unavailable for so long is perplexing – and more than a tad frustrating for fans. Given the amount of excellent B sides from the era, there’s also plenty of scope for an expanded deluxe edition.
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Songs: Ohia – ‘Lioness’
Jason Molina’s Songs: Ohia has only grown in popularity in the years since his untimely death and, for the most part, Secretly Canadian have done a good job of keeping Molina’s work available and in-print (even if their pressings could sometimes be higher quality). Molina’s excellent 2000 effort ‘Lioness’ proves oddly difficult to find right now though. Discogs shows no shortage of pressings of the album, with no less than six different versions listed on the site. Despite this, however, the album currently stands as the hardest to find of any of Molina’s core LPs – even the CDs are scarce! It’s a great record and one that offers some of the most powerful, emotionally-charged work of Molina’s entire output, so to see the album so difficult to attain is certainly a shame. Secretly Canadian’s efforts to keep Molina’s legacy alive are commendable, but ‘Lioness’ is an album greatly in need of a revisit.
Killing Joke – ‘Killing Joke (2003)’
This one’s a little different. Whereas all the other albums on this list have seen release on vinyl at one point or another, Killing Joke’s eponymous 2003 effort is an album that never found its way onto wax. The post-punk institution may have formed in 1978, but they were still going strong 25 years later and their 2003 record remains one of the most vital albums of all their work. It’s brutally heavy, utterly compelling, sharply forward thinking and an essential part of one of alternative music’s most propulsive discographies. The fact that it only received a CD release (which is, in itself, very rare) is a crying shame; there’re plenty of other Killing Joke albums we could have chosen because the majority of their work from the past twenty five years ranges from elusive to extremely rare, but we went for this one simply because not only is it one of their best, but it’s their only record to have never seen any sort of vinyl release.
Bob Dylan – ‘MTV Unplugged’
Bob Dylan has one of the best managed legacies of any of Rock’s storied elder statesmen. Whereas your Paul McCartneys and Neil Youngs have more than a few extremely rare latter-day releases yet to see vinyl reissue, the vast majority of Dylan’s output has been reissued and can be easily attained for fair prices. There are, however, a few outliers that have yet to be rereleased, particularly if you look outside of his core studio output. There’re plenty of LPs we could have gone with here – the ‘Bootleg Series Vol. 5’ and a well remastered version of ‘Street-Legal’ come to mind amongst a few others – but we’ve opted to choose ‘MTV Unplugged’. This 1995 release is critically underrated and sees Dylan rework what could have been a predictable best-of setlist into a selection of radically fresh takes that offer fascinating new angles to well known songs and, in a couple of cases, put compelling cases forward for being the definitive versions of said songs. Although it’s not too eye-wateringly expensive compared with some releases on this list – all three pressings of the album tend to go for around £45 – it’s still a fairly pricey release and one that was last in-print in 1999, so it’s well overdue a revisit.
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Aphex Twin – ‘Drukqs’
Possibly alternative Electronica’s most famous luminary, Aphex Twin is an artist generally not too hard to buy on vinyl. If you count the many different aliases of Richard D. James – of which Aphex Twin is only one – then the list of rare releases associated with him grows considerably, but the core output of his most famous moniker is generally not too hard to find. However, 2001’s ambitious quadruple LP opus ‘Drukqs’ is an exception. It’s a boxset which is yet to see reissue since its original release and, although there are two variations to chose from (an audiophile version pressed at the excellent RTI – yours for a mere £270 – and a comparatively bargain priced standard edition for £170), what we really need is a good quality, affordable reissue. It’s a lengthy album – running in at 100 minutes – and packaging on the original pressing is as unorthodox yet appealing as the music itself, coming in an oversized oblong boxset. Even if Warp Records couldn’t be bothered to go to the effort of reproducing the original packaging, a more conventionally presented re-release of the album would still be most appreciated, if only so as not to have to take a second mortgage out on your house to afford one.
Faust – ‘So Far’
One recurring theme throughout all of our choices so far is that they’re all fairly recent releases (relatively speaking), only going back as far as the mid ’90s. This choice bucks that trend because ‘So Far’ (sophomore album from experimental rock legends Faust) was released in 1972. It’s not that the album has never been reissued – the infamously hit-and-miss ‘4 Men With Beards’ had a crack at the album in 2009 and the usually far higher quality ‘Back To Black’ did the same a year later – but at the time of writing the album is thoroughly out of print and even the reissues are getting scarce. Although accessible compared with their intensely bizarre debut, ‘So Far’ is still a deeply experimental effort taking cues from Dadaism and Musique Concrete to create a textually rewarding blend of noise and pop sensibility which made the band a total one-off. It’s a classic album and one that could really do with a high quality reissue (ideally reproducing the original releases’ numerous inserts) because the original pressing is out of the question for most, sporting a price tag which ranges from £80 – £150 for a copy in good shape. Other Faust records – including their debut and ‘Faust IV’ – have affordable re-releases available at the moment, so why not their arguably best album?
Clutch – ‘Clutch’
As is the case with a few other artists on this list, Clutch are a long-running band whose output is in patchy shape when it comes to vinyl releases. Whilst plenty of their albums are indeed available on wax at somewhat reasonable prices, there’re plenty of other albums that have either never been pressed to wax or have become so rare that reissues are desperately needed. The album which cemented Clutch’s unique blend of Blues, Stoner Doom and borderline-Rap bravado, their 1995 sophomore effort remains one of the group’s best efforts and, alas, also one of their most expensive. If Discogs is to be believed, the album only received a presumably tiny pressing for release in Germany of all places. It’s one of those rare records that’s not only expensive but genuinely hard to find; at the time of writing there are no copies for sale online that we know of and a comparatively measly 166 users have added it to their collections on Discogs, so not only is it grimace-inducingly expensive (it last sold for £200) but it’s bloody hard to find, to boot. There have been reissues of rare Clutch albums in the past – including a first time vinyl release of 1998’s ‘Elephant Riders’ for Record Store Day 2016 – so there may still be hope for getting our hands on a vinyl version of this excellent album.
Van Morrison – ‘Veedon Fleece’
OK, another oldie here. We all know Van Morrison and we all know hits such as ‘Moondance’ and ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ (if you don’t, make it your New Year’s resolution to change that) but something less well known is his 1974 album ‘Veedon Fleece’. Morrison acolytes will be familiar with the idea of there being two types of Van album: the spiritual, deep ones and the good-time R&B ones. ‘Veedon Fleece’ is undoubtedly the former and, frankly, it’s tempting to call the album something of a lost masterpiece. Although the legendary ‘Astral Weeks’ is rightfully considered his finest achievement, ‘Veedon Fleece’ is not far behind at all and finds Van The Man on incredible form, giving some of the most impassioned, versatile vocal performances of his career; see the stunning falsetto of ‘Who Was That Masked Man?’ for a total one-off in his output, whilst the soulful grooves of ‘Streets Of Arklow’ and ‘You Don’t Pull No Punches’ give the album some of the most powerful material Morrison has ever committed to tape. It’s hard to overstate what a good album this is, which is why its scarcity is such a shame. For whatever reason the LP didn’t seem to sell as well as many of his other efforts from the ’70s, as original copies are rare and fetch a fair amount (anywhere from £20 to £50, condition dependent) and it was last reissued in the late ’80s, so a modern reappraisal of the album is long, long overdue.
Vic Chesnutt – ‘About To Choke’
As our series of Vinyl Corner features on the late great Vic Chesnutt demonstrated, a significant portion of his discography was put back into print last year after far too long being unavailable. Despite that, however, the prolific singer-songwriter still has swathes of his output that either remain difficult to find or even unreleased on vinyl. There’re a good number of albums we could have chosen here, but we opted for Chesnutt’s one major label effort: 1995’s ‘About To Choke’. Although the original pressing isn’t the most expensive album on this list – ranging from £30 to £40, condition dependent – it can be a tricky album to find in NM condition, and the 2010 reissue on Plain Records (a label with notoriously dodgy quality control) isn’t much more common, even if it is cheaper. We could definitely do with a high quality (preferably expanded) reissue of this alongside other Chesnutt gems, please.
BadBadNotGood – ‘BBNG2’
BadBadNotGood have taken the contemporary jazz scene by storm with an articulate, vibrant style which makes the genre greatly accessible without diluting its impact. Although their last two records are widely available, the group’s numerically titled second effort received a limited run of 1000 prior to the band attaining wider success and has thus climbed to exorbitant prices online, copies often hovering around the £70 to £80 mark. While some reports suggest that it’s not the best pressing ever – some copies apparently suffer from surface noise – that’s nothing that a non-limited reissue couldn’t put right. Given the band’s persuasive sound and pertinent sonics, it would be a shame to see this go un-reissued. While they’re at it, a first time vinyl pressing of their debut wouldn’t hurt either.
Paul McCartney – ‘Chaos And Creation In The Backyard’
Earlier on in the feature we mentioned in-passing how many records Paul McCartney has which are currently out of print. Whilst a good number of his albums have been reissued recently, they’ve rather frustratingly chosen to focus on McCartney’s ’70s and ’80s output, the vast majority of which is easy to find at cheap prices already. His ’90s and ’00s output, meanwhile, remain overlooked by many and are, unsurprisingly given the era of release, often very rare indeed. There’re plenty of albums we could have highlighted here as there’s a lot to be said for much of McCartney’s comparatively recent work, but we’ve opted to go with one of his best ever solo albums, the excellent ‘Chaos And Creation In The Backyard’. Released in 2005, it’s a surprisingly scarce album that has yet to be reissued. By McCartney’s own standards, the record is disarmingly personal and it’s a rare insight into the legend’s psyche at a difficult time in his life (the album was being written as McCartney’s relationship with second wife Heather Mills fell apart). Musically, too, it’s a compelling set which couples McCartney’s newly revitalised lyricism with some of the best music of his latter-day output. It’s a great album and one well worth exploring. However, doing so on vinyl currently comes with a prohibitive price-point as the one-off 2005 pressing tends to run at around £140. Ouch.
Rob Carr & Bill Kahl – ‘Communication 1’
This is undoubtedly the least famous entry on this list. A total hidden-gem, ‘Communication 1’ is a ramshackle collection of acid-folk jams and folk-blues meditations which make for a compelling, charming collection with a salient atmosphere all of its own. Originally released as a private press in 1971, the album has never seen a proper reissue (not even on CD) and, rather surprisingly, it hasn’t even been bootlegged. Although any reissue of the album would likely be a low-key affair on a small label, it would be a well-deserved second chance for one of few great ’70s psych-folk albums to remain truly underappreciated so many years later.
Melvins – ‘(A) Senile Animal’
Genre-hopping rock monsters Melvins have long been in the habit of putting out silly-limited releases to cater to a diehard collector fanbase, but the vinyl release of the excellent 2006 album ‘(A) Senile Animal’ is extreme even by their standards. Released in 2008, the vinyl version of the album totalled some 3000 copies (in itself a small amount given the band’s popularity) over an array of different colours which ranged from comparatively large runs of 1000 to obscenely small editions of as little as 35 copies. Limitation is a huge factor in the price of this four disc boxset so, based on the colour, prices can be anything from £80 to £230. Given that the set was, rather gratuitously, spread over four single sided discs, there’s plenty of scope for a less artsy double LP reissue to be released in more standard packaging at an affordable price – thus offering a more practical alternative to those primarily interested simply in owning one of the group’s stronger efforts on wax.