Aug. 11 2010 10:26 AM

The best recent reissues and compilations, excavated for your pleasure


Various Artists
Cloud Cuckooland

(B-Music / Finders Keepers)

“Krautrock” is undoubtedly one of the loosest terms ever created by rock journalists, as it's essentially used as a stand-in for anything psychedelic and German. With this comp, its borders are stretched even further, with tracks selected from the largely unknown Kuckuck label, including Armageddon's smoking boogierock workout “Oh Man” and Deuter's transfixing “Der Turm.” But the best cuts here are American Sam Spence's three Moog-heavy electro-fusion excursions, traveling similar orchestral paths as those laid out by jazz-rock god David Axelrod in the late '60s.

Jeff Eubank

A Street Called Straight
(Drag City/Yoga Records)

Imagine an alternate universe in which soft rock isn't a novelty, and Jeff Eubank's lone solo record could probably stand alongside the greatest over-produced gems of that era. In theory, Street should be awful—Eubank graces the back cover, smoothed-out shag haircut, Members Only jacket and all—but from the elegant arrangement of “Feels Like Me” onward, it's clear that there was unique heart and soul put into this record. Take away the dated production and double-tracked vocals, and some songs could almost pass as Nick Drake outtakes, while “Kamikaze Pilot” is the kind of epic only the '80s could've produced.

Les Rallizes Denudes
Blind Baby Has its Mother's Eyes and Heavier Than a Death in the Family


Immortalized in Japrocksampler, Julian Cope's phenomenal account of Japanese psychedelic rock, this ultra-obscure group with ties to radical terrorist group the Japanese Red Army Faction had only one official release to its name during the course of its two-and-a-half decade existence. These two albums are, in fact, reissues of live bootleg recordings, but it's easy to see why certain rock fans have elevated them to legendary status—Heavier is like cleaning out your ears with steel wool, its excoriating guitar noise putting The Velvet Underground's “Sister Ray” to shame, while parts of Blind Baby were copped wholesale by minimal modern psych masters Wooden Shjips. You need these.

Hot Off the Press

(Riverman Music / Yoga Records)

The pedal-steel guitar is one of rock's most underappreciated instruments, and when used correctly, it can turn a run-of-the-mill country-rock song into a shit-kicking anthem. On this rare private-press album from 1974, this band of four Yale students dressed up like rejects from a Flying Burrito Brothers tryout and gave a ripping pedal steel the focus it so rightly deserves. Surprisingly, the years have been kind to this one—especially because virtually no one heard it the first time around—and if songs like “Loser” and “Misty Day” had gotten attention from record execs, you'd be listening to News on classic-rock radio just as much as Steely Dan and CSNY. Believe it.

(Rock 'n' Roll Blitzkrieg / Now!)

If you're confusing this X with the one from L.A., I don't know what to tell you. While storied Aussie punk legends such as The Saints and Radio Birdman have gotten their fair share of the reissue treatment in the past couple decades, Aspirations has gone relatively unnoticed, despite it easily being equal (or even superior) to any such record to emerge from Down Under. Pressed on bright-red vinyl in this latest edition—and just as hot as that suggests—it's as vital and angry as any rock album from the late '70s. “Suck Suck” seethes with undiluted disdain for the 9-to-5 lifestyle, “I Don't Wanna Go Out” thrives on misanthropic vibes, and “Good On Ya Baby” adopts The Stooges' swagger to tell off a female companion. Recorded in six hours (!) with no overdubs, this is as raw and exciting as they come.


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