Best Reissues and Compilations 2017

First up, The Ramones and a 40th anniversary deluxe treatment of Rocket To Russia.

You know the drill with The Ramones. A barrage of two-minute, rapid-fire fury with dumbass lyrics. Here with an added surf influence.

Rocket To Russia was maybe their last true masterpiece and their last album recorded with the band’s original lineup. This reissue does the album proud with two different mixes plus a shedload of previously unreleased material. Best of all, though, is the disc featuring the band’s concert at the Glasgow Apollo from December 19 1977. Exactly forty years ago.

Listen out for me. I was there down in the stalls bawling my head off.

There was usually a palpable undercurrent of violence and edginess whenever a punk act played the Apollo with a real us and them divide between fans and bouncers. The stage was far too high – it was never a good idea to book a seat in the two front rows. You would leave the hall at the end of the night with soot up your nose. There was no bar and only very basic toilet facilities.

Needless to say it’s my favourite ever venue though and The Ramones show from 1977 is one of the three best concerts I ever attended. My two other favourites, the first appearance of The Clash at the Apollo and Iggy Pop’s show there in 1979.

Here on what was their debut at the old hall, The Ramones are at their ferocious best. This isn’t from that show but instead from the Hogmanay show that The Ramones played at London’s Rainbow Theatre not long afterwards:

Brimming with freakbeat fireballs, The Creation compilation Action Painting is undoubtedly the definitive Creation artefact. Collected together for the first time are the band’s complete studio recordings which have been remastered from the original tapes by producer Shel Talmy. There’s even four tracks by an earlier incarnation of the band when they were known as The Mark Four. Plus an eighty page book.

As a teenager I first became aware of band via Boney M’s cover of Painter Man (so they served some purpose after all). That and the collage inside All Mod Cons. The Jams’ 5CD 1977 box set is recommended too incidentally as is Making Time – A Shel Talmy Production, which I have already reviewed here.

Originally released in the early days of 1968, this is How Does It Feel To Feel. Did Oasis ever manage this kind of swagger? Nope.

From the same era that gave us The Creation comes the Jon Savage compiled 1967 The Year Pop Divided. This collection includes psychedelia, garage nuggets, Tamla, southern soul, early funk, a little UK pop reggae in the shape of Ken Boothe and some Gallic space age Psyche Rock from Les Yper Sound.

I know very little about this latter act but imagine them living in a Pop Art apartment in Paris and hanging out with Yves Klein and the models he would drag over his canvases while smeared in blue paint. Insanely catchy, this should have been on the soundtrack of Barbarella or Modesty Blase. Stereolab, of course, love them.

Unfortunately there’s no video footage of Les Yper Sound that I can find online but here’s another Savage selected gem. From Spring 1967, this is I Can Hear The Grass Grow (Roy and the boys must have had acute hearing at this point in their careers or maybe there’s another explanation for this remarkable ability). The song also cropped up this year on the CD/DVD Digi-pack collection Magnetic Waves of Sound: The Best Of The Move which I might just treat myself to in the not too distant future.

Newly released on the ever excellent Soul Jazz label, Deutsche Elektronische Musik 3 is a 23 track compilation of experimental German music released between 1971 and 1981. There are Krautrock big hitters such as Neu!, Cluster and Popol Vuh and there are some lesser known acts like Klauss Weiss and Missus Beastly.

Highlights include Michael Bundt’s The Brain Of Oskar Panizza (from 1977, I can imagine the early Human League being influenced by this) and Neu!’s Neuschnee, one of the most influential tracks of the 1970s.

Here is a very much unofficial video for the latter:

Swampland Jewels (on Yep Roc Records) is another in a long line of fantastic compilations of Cajun music. A various artists collection of songs from the 1950s and ’60s, a version of this album originally appeared on the Goldband Records label in a 1979. Now expanded and accompanied with liner notes and photos courtesy of Steven Weiss – no relation to the Klauss Weiss mentioned earlier I presume – this is a hugely enjoyable listen.

Tracks include Herman Guilee’s Bon Ton Roula, a straight-ahead bouncy number that’ll have you mamboing within seconds and Al Ferrier’s Yard Dog, which blurs the line between traditional Cajun and Bayou rockabilly.

Finally on the reissue & compilation front, a wee mention for Serge Gainsbourg & Jean-Claude Vannier’s OST Les Chemins Des Katmandou (on Finders Keepers) and Keb Darge And Cut Chemist Present The Dark Side (on BBE). And here’s a link to my favourite reissue of 2017, The Smiths’ The Queen is Dead.