Our rundown of the year's finest archive releases
Running The Voodoo Down: Explorations In Psychrockfunksouljazz 1967-80
Named after a Miles Davis track, this mind-expanding compilation examined how a generation of African-American musicians reclaimed rock imperatives as the ’60s rolled into the ’70s. An adventurous cast crystallised around a core quartet
of Miles, George Clinton, Sly Stone and Jimi Hendrix. “My soul,” as The Chambers Brothers pertinently observed in 1968, “has been psychedelicized!”
Buzzcocks (Mk 1) Box
Among the releases to celebrate the 40th anniversary of punk, Domino provided a definitive compendium of the formative, Howard Devoto era of the Manchester legends. Included in the box was the vital “Spiral Scratch” EP, plus Time’s Up, a set of October 1976 demos that had originally surfaced as bootlegs. The first stirrings of nervy youths whose singer – “I’m already a has-been!” – appeared artfully jaded from the very start.
18 BEACH BOYS
1967 – Sunshine Tomorrow
Brian Wilson’s endless tour of Pet Sounds returned to Britain in the summer, but this time a few rarities had entered the setlist, reprogrammed to coincide with this useful package. Sunshine Tomorrow catalogued the busy aftermath of Smile, featuring outtakes from Smiley Smile, a new stereo mix of the undervalued and soulful Wild Honey, plus Lei’d In Hawaii – a strange, Brian-less live album that fell off the release schedules half a century ago.
LIGHT IN THE ATTIC
Fans of Spiritualized, The Verve and Oasis might have encountered an understated support act in the mid-’90s; a Californian trio whose dreamy, fractured recalibration of rock was one of the decade’s secret pleasures. Light In The Attic endowed them with a deserved retrospective, a testament to an act that kindred spirit Hope Sandoval called “one of my all-time favourite bands”.
16 THE NECESSARIES
Obscure in his lifetime, the past 15 years or so have seen the work of late New York composer and producer Arthur Russell elevated to the status of godhead. Among all the mutant disco, avant-garde song and more rediscovered, though, who knew he played cello and keys in an early-’80s new wave band? Quite a find, not least because The Necessaries turned out to be strong contemporaries of The Feelies.
There were many ways to remember the late Holger Czukay after his death in 2017, and this handy collection of Can gobbets showcased plenty of them: not just as Stockhausen-affiliated bassist of the fearless Krautrock era, but a prankster who would note, “They don’t wear pants in the hoolah-hoolah dance,” in the midst of one late single. The whole singles story exposed an even wilder – and dafter – band than many realised.
14 JOHNNY CASH
The Original Sun Albums 1957-64
A heroic effort at sorting out The Man In Black’s messy early discography, Charly’s lavish box brought all seven original Sun albums together for the first time. Twenty-three outtakes, rarities and alternative versions – including 1955’s “My Two Timin’ Woman”, forgotten until Cash re-recorded the song 48 years later with Rick Rubin – completed a foundational slab of 20th-century culture, finally restored to order.
13 BARK PSYCHOSIS
The solitary album by Graham Sutton and John Ling’s band in their original form, Hex re-emerged as the key missing link between the spare meditations of late Talk Talk and the airy possibilities of post-rock. Twenty-three years after its first release,
it was happily recontextualised: out of an indie milieu, towards a wan, elusive East London correlative to Future Days-era Can, or early-’70s Miles Davis.
12 HÜSKER DÜ
Savage Young Dü
When this incendiary round-up of the Minneapolis trio’s early work was streamed online a few days before Grant Hart’s death, one hopes he was able to appreciate the ensuing love directed towards his old band. Savage Young Dü catalogued a band moving from post-punk to hardcore, and beyond. Forty-seven out of 69 songs were previously unissued, including a complete alternative take on Land Speed Record.
If a 20th-anniversary revamp of OK Computer weren’t enough, Radiohead also chose to unveil three long-discussed lost songs – previously only found on live bootlegs – on a second disc also full of valuable B-sides. “Lift”, especially, was extraordinary: an anthem that could’ve made Radiohead even bigger, had they not shelved it in the interests of their own sanity.