The debut album by The Bangles recently got the Record Store Day treatment
Afghan Whigs- Black Love (Expanded Edition) Rhino 3LP
While it truly hurts my brain to think about how this band’s 1992 – 1996 three-album hot streak might or might not resonate with folks today, Black Love was nonetheless one of the definitive documents of this '90s underground rock anomaly. And let’s not forget that Memphis’ own Paul Buchignani was the Whigs’ drummer on this album, having built a relationship with the band after working at Ardent Studios, where they recorded 1993's discography high-point, Gentlemen (parts of Black Love were also done at the studio). Black Love has never been reissued on vinyl since its original release in 1996. No pressing count is given for this expanded 3LP edition.
The Bangles- Ladies and Gentlemen… The Bangles LP (Omnivore)
Founded in 1980 as The Bangs before avoiding a potential legal kerfuffle by changing their name to (The) Bangles, this all-female quartet emerged from the L.A. punk/hardcore reactionary offshoot sub-scene that (unfortunately) designated itself the Paisley Underground. So with The Dream Syndicate, Salvation Army/The Three O’Clock, Thin White Rope, Green On Red and The Blasters as contemporaries, the material recorded and released by the Bangles between 1981 and 1984 isn't exactly a dead-ringer for 1988’s #1 mega-smash ballad “Eternal Flame”, the almost-shelved novelty nonsense of “Walk Like An Egyptian” or even the Prince-gifted “Manic Monday” that kicked off the band’s period of success in 1985 (but even their hits, save for the ballad, were toothier and more guitar-oriented than other pop confections of the day).
Ladies and Gentleman… was curated by the band and originally appeared (via their own Downkiddie! Records imprint) in digital-only format exactly two years ago on Thanksgiving Day 2014 and this marks its first time on vinyl. Along with their debut 7” from 1981 and the self-titled 12” EP that followed in ’82, Ladies and Gentlemen also features a strong selection of rarities/unreleased/etc, including the band’s great cover of Love’s “7 and 7 is”. Edition of 2000.
Big Star Complete Third Vol. 1: Demos to Sessions to Roughs 2LP (Omnivore)
This will no doubt be a no-brainer for many, especially anyone who’d prefer a staggered approach to acquiring and digesting in its entirety the Complete Third boxed set released earlier this year. Complete Third Vol. 1 is, as the sub-title implies, the first of three 2LP sets that will eventually make up the whole of what is offered by the boxed set. 2500 pressed.
Bolt Thrower- Those Once Loyal Metal Blade LP
England's Bolt Thrower carved their own place in the initial death-metal era of the late-80s/early-90s, not only because they featured a female in their ranks (bassist Jo Bench) but also on the strength of the rhythmic bulldozing effect of massive and dense but melodic guitar + guitar + bass riffing the band perfected around 1990.
Those Once Loyal eschews the Games Workshop/World of Warcraft cover art that came to represent Bolt Thrower albums throughout the '90s, and instead features a tasteful image memorializing WWI around which the record is themed (all B.T. albums carry a specific war or military-history theme). The band was active on-and-off in in a live capacity since this album's release 16 years ago but broke up for good following the recent death of drummer Martin Kearns. 1000 pressed on gold vinyl.
Death Grips- Fashion Week/Interview 2016 Harvest 2LP
Two recent instrumental releases, 2015’s digital-only Fashion Week and the Interview 2016 EP (Get it? There’s no interview!) from earlier this year, together on one 2LP set released in a pressing of 3000.
Regardless of whether you regard Death Grips as brilliant, a completely overrated hoodwink, or something in between, there’s no doubt their legacy will be discussed in terms of historical importance and lasting influence a decade from now.
Electric Wizard Witchcult Today (Metal Blade) 2LP
Quite possibly the gold standard in doom/sludge/stoner-metal, the UK’s Electric Wizard floored the metal community (and some outside of it) when, half-a-decade into their career, they dropped the next-level and now appropriately seminal genre landmark, Dopethrone, in 2000. One of the heaviest (essence and execution) bands of all time, Electric Wizard have so far followed that album with five more menacing mountains of riff-craft in celebration of the occult, H. P. Lovecraft, criminal dirtbaggery and the diggity-dank.
Any fan of metal or heavy music should be cozy with this band's post-Y2K discography, proof that something forward-thinking, singular, absolutely crushing and catchy as hell can be done with the doom/sludge/Sabbath template. Electric Wizard has a knack for giving their best songs the most asinine titles, as is the case with sample track below, "The Satanic Rites of Drugula." This pressing of 1000 (one clear disc and one silver disc) isn't likely to remain in print forever.
The Geto Boys “Mind Playing Tricks” 12" (RapAlot)
Never before had a known quantity in the then-exploding gangsta/hardcore-rap genre let its guard down lyrically in such a fearless and honest manner as did this Houston crew on their 1991 masterwork, We Can't Be Stopped. “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” was the most prominent example of this, tackling the reality of mentally unraveling as a result of the lifestyle and surrounding environment.
As with other releases in this legendary group’s (who should be just as retroactively respected and huge as NWA, IMHO) back catalog, the song carries a dark sense of humor and is insanely infectious. Proceeds from this 12" will go to The JED Foundation, which works to promote emotional health and suicide prevention among college/university-aged students.
GWAR Black Friday Ltd. Edition Picture Disc 7" (Metal Blade)
An EP of two cover medleys that GWAR did for The Onion A/V Club in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Oderus (the late Dave Brockie) features on the A-side version of Billy Ocean’s “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car” (which morphs into The Who’s “Baba O’Riley”), and his successor, Blothar (Michael Bishop, GWAR’s bassist from 1988 to 1999) handles on B-side's medley of The Pet Shop Boys’ “West End Girls” (re-imagined as “West End Ghouls”) and “People Who Died” by The Jim Carrol Band. Hey, why not?
Mike Watt + The Bobblymen The Bobblymen 7” EP (ORG Music)
I would wager a guess that “bobblehead” is not copyrighted but Mike Watt has a knack for coining his own terms so maybe that explains the unfortunate name of his latest backing band. Moniker and equally cringe-worthy cover art aside, drummer Bob Lee and members of Watt's Missingmen and Secondmen bands assist in realizing three songs he wrote but never recorded some 35 years ago during the early days of the Minutemen. Edition of 1000.
Other recommendations worth checking out:
Tav Falco & Panther Burns "Sway" b/w "Where The Rio Del Rosa Flows" 7” (ORG Music) Ed of 1000.
Isaac Hayes Do Your Thing Now 12” (Again Records) Ed of 2500.
Rudy Ray Moore This Ain't No White Christmas LP (Traffic Entertainment/Dolemite Records) Ed of 1200.
Napalm Death/Melt Banana “Like Piss To A Sting” split 7” (Ipecac Recordings) pressing of 2000,
Xiu Xiu Knife Play LP (Graveface Records) Ed of 2000.
American Noise Volume One: Smart Studios Era 1 LP & The Smart Studios Story documentary DVD.