Music Week's round-up of the latest album reissues and catalogue releases. This week we take a look at Gomez, 80s Back To School and British Psychedelic Sounds Of 1968…
Bring It On (UMC/Virgin 6711398)
To mark the 20th anniversary of its initial release, Southport alternative rock band Gomez's Mercury Prize-winning debut album is the subject of a handsome new box set. Expanded from 12 to 28 tracks for its 10th anniversary edition in 2008, it is now cranked up to 63 tracks - 35 of them previously unreleased - to celebrate its latest landmark. Purists will be happy with the first CD, which contains just the 12 original tracks that made Bring It On such an aspirational and inspirational debut in newly remastered excellence. Selling nearly half a million copies since release, the album spawned three excellent singles which won over the critics but achieved mystifyingly modest chart success of their own, with 78 Stone Wobble peaking at No.44, Get Myself Arrested at No.45 and Whippin' Piccadilly - a sublime song about an outing to Manchester - at No.35. A perfect evocation of its times, the album is upgraded to a super deluxe 4CD edition in its latest incarnation, with B-sides, home demos, other demos, radio sessions and their triumphant 1998 Glastonbury performance all being included. A 10,000-word essay and interviews with the band and their associates complete a worthy reissue, which will also be available in a gatefold coloured vinyl edition, and is due for release ahead of the band's forthcoming tour, in which they will be playing Bring It On in its entirety.
80s Back To School (Crimson CRIMCD 613)
Albums anthologising the 1980s once sold fewer copies than those reliving the glory days of the 1960s and 1970s but the decade's music, once regarded as scornfully as the fashions and hairdos of the time, have been the subject of a major reassessment in the last few years and - helped by a plethora of 1980s radio stations including Absolute, Free Radio, Heart, Magic and Smooth - it is finally cool. So cool that Magic 80s topped the compilation chart a couple of weeks ago. The nostalgia fest continues with the release of this new 3 CD offering from Crimson, which includes chart toppers Perfect by Fairground Express, Down Under by Men At Work and Move Closer by Phyllis Nelson among its 60 tracks. It is, however, a little too reliant on tracks from the Sony and RCA catalogues, although it unearths a few gems that rarely get an outing these days, including Dream To Sleep, the biggest (No.17) of a trio of hits by Glasgow band H2O; Satellite, the only UK hit (No.22) for Philadelphia band The Hooters; and Martika's robust, hi-NRG remake of Carole King's elegant I Feel The Earth Move. Priced to sell for less than a tenner, it is housed in a space-saving triptych sleeve.
Looking At The Pictures In The Sky - The British Psychedelic Sounds Of 1968 (Grapefruit CRSEGBOX 040)
In which Grapefruit does the impossible by following up their stonking Let's Go Down And Blow Our Minds box set of 1967 UK psychedelia with this equally fine study of the genre in 1968. With a generous 78 tracks across three CDs, it is a cornucopia of excellence, despite the presence of only a handful of household names, and even fewer familiar recordings. The mind-expanding experimentations that were going on at the time leads to titles like Did You Die Four Years Ago Today, The Fantastic Story Of The Stream Driven Banana and Spontaneous Apple Creation. The splendidly-named Boeing Duveen & The Beautiful Soup's Jabberwock contains plenty of lyrical references to Charles Dickens' beloved nonsense poem, while The Fleur De Lys take Edward Lear as their inspiration for the similarly enjoyable and slightly misquoting Gong With A Luminous Nose. Obscure minor gems abound - try She, a majestic, uplifting, string-shrouded and melodic parting shot from North London band Tuesday's Children for whom it marked the end of a six single career; or Mr. Pinnodmy's Dilemma, a harder edged, guitar-driven cut which explores the life of a deaf and dumb kid a year before The Who did likewise with Tommy. Among the better known acts present are The Pretty Things whose Talkin' About The Good Times is an intriguing little song that nods its head at The Beatles' Strawberry Fields Forever and incorporates Indian elements, while Procol Harum's In The Wee Small Hours Of Sixpence - the flipside of their third single Quite Rightly So - has lyrics almost as dense and impenetrable as their smash Whiter Shade Of Pale, with references to lighted chandeliers, crowing cockerels and good Sir Galant but a soulful tune with pleasing organ frills. Clad in the customary clamshell box, the album comes with a chunky 44-page booklet, packed with illustrations and background information. Highly recommended.