Instead of a traditional Sunday Mix Tape this week, I’m going to highlight more great albums which were released in 2010. The one caveat here is that these are all albums which were reissued this past year. Or last year. Weird…two days ago I was saying “this past year” and now I have to say “last year” to not be considered retarded.
There were plenty of great albums reissued in 2010. And a lot of them were more modern re-pressings, which I don’t care for at all (really? Another limited-edition Group re-press? Ugh!). I’m more interested in the, you know, vintage albums from the ’60s and ’70s that actually needed to be reissued due to decades of demand. Albums that routinely sell for two or three-thousand dollars (see: Index), or infamous privately-pressed records with maybe one or two known copies in existence (see: Heitkotter). That’s the kind of shit that excites me. So now I’m going to share that excitement with you by combining a top ten list with a Sunday Mix Tape in what will probably lead to the complete destruction of Swan Fungus. My two favorite things to blog about, together at last!
By the way, this list is not in any order. How can you compare and rank such fantastic music? You can’t. Fuckin’ deal with it, asshole.
Sunday Mix Tape – Number 208
The Top Ten Reissues Of 2010
• Syl Johnson – Complete Mythology (Numero Group) – This was, to put it mildly, an amazing year for Numero Group. First they unearthed a treasure trove of Chicago salsa music from the Ebirac label and sold it all off as dead stock (records that previous sold for hundreds of dollars available for $30 each? awesome). Then they put together this incredible 6LP/4CD set dedicated to the man who claims he’s got “More soul than Marvin, more funk than James.” He might have a point. Bonus points for anyone who purchased the “It’s because I’m black” t-shirt from Numero and has worn it without getting your ass kicked. [Listen to "I'm Talkin' 'Bout Freedom"] – (buy this album)
• Ted Lucas – Ted Lucas (Yoga Records) – Described to my boss as “The greatest singer-songwriter record of all time,” he and I both decided to see if this record (alternatively called The OM Record after Lucas’ own private label) held up to such lofty praise. Jesus, was I ever blown away. I’m hard-pressed to think of a really good comparison to share, but Yoga’s website drops a Sybille Baier reference…which is all anyone ever has to tell me about a record in order to make me run out and purchase it. It’s tough to choose between Lucas, Heitkotter, Levinson and My Solid Ground, but this is definitely one of the best of the bunch. [Listen to "Plain And San Simple Melody"] – (buy this album)
• Stephen David Heitkotter – Heitkotter – (Time-Lag) – Perhaps it is the most important “real people” record ever made. The story is astounding. Presumably recorded inside the mental institution where he’s been for decades, Heitkotter captures — maybe better than any other album on Earth — the most complex, haunting aspects of the human condition. This is completely unhinged. This is disturbing. This is scary. And yet, to my ears at least, it’s both beautiful and revolutionary. Heitkotter might be the most intense, personal album ever recorded. It manages to express what exists in the darkest, hardest-to-reach recesses of our minds. It accomplishes what most artists could never dream to achieve. Seriously, I listen to this record and I feel like I’m listening to nothing else that has ever been committed to tape before. This is, literally, what it is to be human. [Listen to "Cadillac Woman"] – (buy this album)
• Paul Levinson – Twice Upon A Rhyme (Sound Of Salvation) – Is there any word of praise I have left in my vocabulary that I can use to describe Paul Levinson without repeating myself? Not only is he the nicest professor I’ve never had, but he is one hell of a musician with an ear for melody and harmony that few unsung folk heroes possess. I couldn’t be happier that his album has found a new audience, or that it has now been reissued on the Sound of Salvation label. Paul, if you’re reading this (and I know you are!) I want to interview you about NBC’s The Event. Are you up for the challenge? [Listen to "The Soft Of Your Eyes"] – (buy this album)
• Jim Sullivan – UFO (Light In The Attic) – You know what’s fucked up? When you think you’re one of the only people in the world who knows about an album, and then it gets reissued and it starts popping up on “Best of” lists all over the fucking Internet. Thanks for ruining my little private world, Internet. Where I was once at peace listening to Jim Sullivan’s stunning loner-folk/singer-songwriter album, now I’m just another pedestrian music fan. Light In The Attic, it must be said, did a phenomenal job bringing this gorgeous-sounding album out of the shadows and into the public consciousness. Kudos, guys. I love/hate you in equal amounts. [Listen to "Highways"] – (buy this album)
• Teenage Filmstars – Star (Cherry Red) – The most under-appreciated (in my opinion) Creation band in the history of that label. Creators of one of the most insane albums of all time (Buy Our Record, Support Our Sickness), which was recorded ENTIRELY BACKWARDS and still managed to sound amazing. Star was the bands first record, and it’s pretty much the most perfect fucked-up shoegaze ever recorded. And they only got better with Rocket Charms and the aforementioned Buy Our Record. Do yourself a favor and buy this record. Now. [Listen to "Kiss Me"] – (buy this album)
• R. Stevie Moore – Phonography (Sundazed) – If you haven’t noticed, I posted a bunch of tracks from this album towards the end of 2010 because I was listening to it more and more frequently as the year progressed. Super weird, oddball, experimental music from Jersey. Recorded in the ’70s. Do I really have to tell you all this? Don’t you know who R. Stevie Moore is by now? You’ve been reading this blog forever. Surely you’re the type of person who knows a thing or two about music. I can’t spell it all out for you. By the way, Sundazed did a great job remastering this. It sounds really good. [Listen to "California Rhythm"] – (buy this album)
• Index – Index (Lion) – Wow, Lion really went all out for this one. The so-called “Black album” (that is, the eponymous Index album) is considered by many to be the “holy grail” of garage/psych music. It’s right up there with the Bachs Out Of The Bachs as far as desirability and value. The last copy put up for auction (in January of 2010) sold for a shade under $4,000. If you don’t want to spend that kind of dough, pick up the Lion re-issue, which includes that album and the equally rare “Red album” on one disc, and Yesterday And Today on a second disc. Three Index albums for about $25 is definitely worth owning. [Listen to "Rainy, Starless Night"] – (buy this album)
• Parson Sound – Parson Sound (Subliminal Sounds) – I’m too lazy to put the umlauts over the a’s in Parson. One of the coolest dudes I’ve ever had the pleasure of buying records from introduced me to Parson Sound a couple years ago at the store. I had noticed that his taste in music was similar to mine, so he brought in some CDs and put them aside for me to listen to before he sold them. Those included Abner Jay, Parson Sound and Sand. I felt like I’d been slapped in the face. How come I hadn’t heard this shit before? Parson Sound crazy minimal psych from Sweden that many compare to Flower Travellin Band and Taj Mahal Travellers. I think it’s even more far out than that. You be the judge. [Listen to "On How To Live"] – (buy this album)
• My Solid Ground – My Solid Ground (Second Battle) – One of my favorite ways to slack off at work is to talk with the real heavy-hitter record collectors about what’s missing from their collection. There’s one guy who, for at least a year, would make me check eBay for him whenever he walked into the store to see if anyone was selling an original copy of My Solid Ground’s eponymous album from 1971 (the greatest year in music history). Excellent krautrock, druggy and spaced-out to all hell. This is, I believe, what dealers mean when they call something a “monster”. [Listen to "Handful Of Grass"] – (buy this album)