The best reissues of the past six months, excavated for your pleasure
…For the Whole World To See (Drag City)Brothers David, Bobby and Dannis Hackney were an anomaly in 1973 when they recorded … For the Whole World. Being an all-black band from Detroit usually meant your sound would veer closer to Motown than The Stooges, but the Hackneys dove headlong into rock 'n' roll, with a bad-ass attitude to match. Although a botched deal with CBS Records shelved the album for 35 years, the Grand Funk-on-speed bombast of “Keep on Knocking” and the stop/start acrobatics of their lone single, “Politicians in My Eyes,” suggest that Death were hardcore before hardcore. Listen to this right before Bad Brains' Black Dots and see if you can connect the, uh, dots.
Fripp & Eno
(No Pussyfooting) and Evening Star(Opal)Two of popular music's most brilliant minds—King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp and former Roxy Music “non-musician” Brian Eno—converged in November 1973 to lay down tracks for (No Pussyfooting). Borrowing composer Terry Riley's groundbreaking use of tape-delay machines a decade earlier, Eno filtered Fripp's alternately gentle and coruscating guitar work into endless feedback loops—“Frippertronics,” they called it. While (No Pussyfooting) is ground zero for Eno's adventures in ambient music, Evening Star is where the duo perfected its sound, and the soothing, repetitive textures of “Evensong” and “Wind on Water” are the sounds of waking dreams.
Histoire De Melody Nelson(Light in the Attic)The progenitor of sleaze-pop, Serge Gainsbourg earned his reputation as one of the world's most controversial acts by slithering his way into young ladies' panties through a series of albums, each more perverted than the last. Histoire de Melody Nelson (1971) is said to be his musical apex, and it's easy to see why—it pulses with throbbing funk breaks, moaning strings and horny thrust. There aren't any bonus tracks, but it's the first time Histoire has been widely available in the U.S. At the very least, it should come packaged in a giant condom, so the buyer doesn't contract any strange diseases.
Heaven's End and Fade Out(Reactor)Positing fuzzed-out repetition as an end unto itself, these long-overdue double-disc reissues of this U.K. band's first two albums are essential for what they're not, rather than what they are. Reducing the three-piece guitar-drums-bass combo to its most primal form, 1987's Heaven's End and 1989's Fade Out create black holes where rock clichés swirl outward in an endless vortex until they practically disappear. If you want to know what Spacemen 3 would've sounded like with more structure, or where Black Rebel Motorcycle Club copped their image, look no further.
Black Monk Time and The Early Years(Light in the Attic)Five G.I.s stationed in Germany just before the dawn of the Vietnam War decide to form a band, their material consisting mostly of covers and Merseybeat-style pop. Following their service, they shave the tops of their heads, write distortion-laden songs called “Shut Up” and “I Hate You” and stick around to see how many people they can piss off. Their only official album, Black Monk Time, is already a revisionist's classic, but it's the newly minted Early Years that examines how they evolved from the relatively tame Torquays into one of the most intriguing, bizarre acts of the '60s.