Billion Dollar Babies Live
The absence of any genuinely high quality live souvenirs of Alice Cooper’s initial (and greatest) reign of terror is one of rock’s most debilitating ills. We’ve all seen Welcome to my Nightmare, listened to The Alice Cooper Show, sat through several decades of subsequent concert performances.
But this, originally released as the bonus disc within 2001’s deluxe repackaging of the original Billion Dollar Babies album, is the only bona-fide, full length, generally available souvenir of the show that wet a million pants.
And it’s as brilliant as it ought to be, which is why you cannot miss this first-time-on-vinyl reissue. Even better, because the show itself was slightly longer than vinyl permits, the final two cuts – “School’s Out” and “Under My Wheels” – are included on a bonus 7-inch single. But still, the main disc alone is imperious, opening with “Hello Hooray” (of course), and closing with the chilling one-two of “Dead Babies” and “I Love the Dead.” Now, if only they could unearth similarly high quality recordings from the tours that preceded this one….
A twentieth anniversary reissue of They Might be Giant-man Linnell’s debut album, State Songs looks and feels like something you might have found on Caedmon or Folkways, back in the sixties. Which, presumably, was the idea.
Sixteen tracks, seemingly pumped out on whichever bizarre, antique instruments were laying around, celebrate fifteen of the fifty states, with “The Songs of the Fifty States” then explaining the logic behind the album itself.
It’s a wild ride, reaching from carnival to bossa nova to… you name it. The weird thing is, even as Linnell is lamenting, for example, not having yet reached Idaho, you feel as though you’re already there, while his depiction of Iowa flying around on her broom (because “she’s a witch, she’s a witch, she’s a witch”)… well, you can make your own mind up about that.
Copies of the original CD are not hard to find. But this is State Songs’ first appearance on vinyl, and you will love it.
This may not be the first ever vinyl reissue of Buffy Sainte-Marie’s sixth album, from 1969, but it is the first to be taken from the original analog tapes, and remastered in analog as well. And if you’ve not heard it, you need to.
This is Sainte-Marie firmly embracing the psychedelic currents that were swirling around her in the late 1960s, an electronics-based masterpiece that took its lead directly from her voice and guitar. But it’s also one of her most powerful albums in terms of both lyric and performance, and the tightrope that stretches between her earliest record and her latest, Medicine Songs, is now so taut you could walk it blindfold.
The label on the sleeve proclaims this as the Fania label’s best selling holiday album in 1971, and while we are not told precisely how many other holiday albums the Latin label released that year, one can readily understand its appeal. Even if you don’t speak the language, the sheer manic joy of the performances will swing you through the air by your arms, while the photos on the sleeve give an unmistakable idea of the album’s glee-soaked intentions.
In its original form, this is not an altogether common album, particularly in anything approaching mint condition. Pick up this all-analog remastering from the original tapes, and hear it in its fabulous glory.
American Sound 1969
A two album repackaging of Elvis’s Memphis sojourn, sequestered away in American Sound Studios with producer Chip Moman and his hottest band in years, and simply churning through the glories. So, no need to wander through the contents and try to put them in context – you know the story as well as you know your own name, and you know the music as well.
This is scarcely our first glimpse inside these sessions, after all – there was a digital-only box set released of everything not so long ago. But this is this particular gathering’s first time on vinyl, and you know you want it.
The Dank D-Funk Blend
A unique compilation aimed wholly at Black Friday, the latest volume in the Jazz Dispensary series delves into the world of jazz-funk covers, from as far afield as Melvin Sparks, Bernard Purdie and Houston Pearson, taking on the likes of Isaac Hayes, the Meters and James Brown in the depth of the Prestige Records vault.
Green marbled vinyl and stunning Mariano Peccinetti artwork add to the fun, with the latter rendering this one of the most eye catching releaess of the day.
Another vinyl first, Lou Reed’s sprawling tribute to/recounting of the art of Edgar Allen Poe has received a lot less attention over the years than it deserved.
Forget the guest appearances from Laurie Anderson and David Bowie; they’re great, but they’re incidental, too; this is Lou’s project through and through, and the combination of that voice and those lyrics is utterly unforgettable. Hopefully this release will help people remember that.
Some Mad Hope
It’s the first time on vinyl for singer-songwriter Nathanson’s sixth album, from 2007 – his first from Vanguard and his biggest seller yet. Whether it’s his best is for others to decide, but his warm voice and sensitive lyrics do feel more focused here than before, and a lot of people are going to be very happy to see this on record. If you’re one of them, hurry hurry hurry!
Sings It Could Happen to You
Now this is how oldies ought to be treated, going back to the original mono masters, and then commencing the remastering from there. Plus, what is generally regarded as Baker’s definitive vocal album also bears one of those period (1958) sleeves that begs inclusion in a “guess the caption” competition. You’ll see when you pick it up.
Ten tracks never veer far from the Great American Songbook, but Baker’s voice is captivating, especially when he launches into a scat reinterpretation of Burke Van Heusen’s “It Could Happen to You,” and the album itself is beloved (and scarce) enough that you’ll be dropping three figures for a mint condition original. This offers up an exquisitely mastered alternative.
First album time for one of the indie rock heroes of the mid-1990s, and the first time on vinyl for one of the records that redefined low-fi for the age. The first of four Wrens albums (we await the reappearance of the rest), it’s a jam packed double, 25 tracks that range in length from 27 seconds to seven minutes plus. Which means it does sometime feels a little over long, and a few tracks do wander towards the blander end of the indie spectrum. But if you loved it at the time, then it’s definitely one of those time-and-space milestones that you’ll be lapping up on “coke bottle clear” vinyl.