New Releases: 6 December
Looking to liven up your life with some new records? Long Live Vinyl have got you covered. Here’s our pick of the new releases and reissues hitting the shelves on 6 December…
01 The Beatles – The Singles Collection
Compiling The Beatles’ recording career across 22 singles, plus a new-to-vinyl double A-side 7″ that scoops up the Anthology-era ‘Threetles’ encore, this limited edition boxset has been remastered for vinyl at Abbey Road from the original mastertapes. Effectively, it’s the narrative arc of 60s British pop in microcosm – from the beat boom years through to the emergence of psychedelia and incorporation of World music influences to an eventual acceptance of classicist songwriting principles.
With a different tracklisting, Parlophone first issued a Beatles singles box way back in 1982, and on a purely practical level you can, of course, find the vast majority of this material via the 1 and Past Masters compilations. But that’s not really the point. This latest offering is a superior proposition thanks to the impeccable remastering work and the addition of Free As A Bird and Real Love.
With most of The Beatles’ original 1960s UK singles issued in desultory plain sleeves, Apple have looked elsewhere for design flair and given this collection an international flavour. From the Beatle wig illustration on the Austrian release of Can’t Buy Me Love to the garish pink Belgian sleeve for Help!, the wonderful Japanese imprint of Lady Madonna (its photo is from the video shoot for Strawberry Fields Forever, but we won’t quibble about that) and an evocative ink illustration of moustachioed Beatles on 1968’s Revolution, which declares Hey Jude to be the B-side, these faithfully reproduced picture sleeves are time capsules in themselves. Also included is a 40-page booklet boasting photos, ephemera and essays by Beatles historian Kevin Howlett.
And what of the music? Well, the hothouse conditions that The Beatles operated under means their development occurred at breakneck speed. The bare-bones likes of Love Me Do and Please Please Me are soon superseded by the earworm melodicism of I Feel Fine and no-holds-barred rock ’n’ roller She’s A Woman, the latter a much underrated vocal from McCartney. By Ticket To Ride, Ringo is confidently asserting himself and developing his own unique style behind the kit – you can hear every crunch and nuance on these remasters. Likewise, George’s unusual strangulated volume pedal additions to Yes It Is sound rich and full.
You won’t need us to tell you about the perfection of arguably the greatest double A-side single of all time, Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane, but perhaps the lesser-known delights at the dustier end of The Beatles’ back catalogue will now get more attention. Harrison’s bite-sized take on Indian mysticism works well on the pretty The Inner Light, the throwaway Old Brown Shoe is rather charming and Lennon’s self-referencing reportage style he explored more fully in his solo work gets an early airing on The Ballad Of John And Yoko. A clear contender for the silliest entry in The Beatles’ back catalogue, the Goons homage You Know My Name (Look Up The Number) is testament to the fact the band’s tongues were often not too far from their cheeks. Elsewhere, this is seriously good stuff. – 9/10
02 IDLES – A Beautiful Thing: IDLES Live At Le Bataclan
A huge step up from the slew of live albums bands are self-releasing on their webstores, IDLES’ document from the last night of their Joy As An Act Of Resistance tour in Paris mirrors its parent album. The deluxe edition of JAAAOR allowed you to choose your own sleeve. A Beautiful Thing has three different versions, varying sleeves for each vinyl colour: bassist Adam Devonshire high-stepping across the orange’s sleeve wins it. Each edition contains Kangk, a neat booklet of gig photos and Joe Talbot’s poetry.
Anyone lucky enough to see IDLES live will probably have wondered just how they manage to sound so tight, considering the visual spectacle and apparent mayhem kicking off at every moment. If anything, this 18-song set only makes it more of a marvel – IDLES sound even sharper and more focused when you’re not in the middle of their communal catharsis. You can sense aggro building on tense opener Colossus, Talbot appealing for love and respect only to undercut it by hollering, “Let’s fucking go!” into a blistering Never Fight A Man With A Perm. Lesser-known songs like 1049 Gotho grow claws, Jon Beavis’ drumming heroic throughout it all. Talbot namechecks Zinedine Zidane during an especially wild Well Done, his vocals on White Privilege suppler than he’s usually given credit for. IDLES shows are one of the most reliably ecstatic experiences on offer right now. A Beautiful Thing is a near-perfect way to relive it all – and on vinyl you won’t be in any danger from flying limbs. – 9/10
03 The Go-Betweens – G Stands For Go-Betweens: Volume 2
If commercial success can be measured solely by the quality of the retrospective boxset treatment given to a band after their recording days are over, then The Go-Betweens must have been multi-unit-shifting global superstars. Over five wonderful LPs, five intriguing CDs, and an extensive 112-page book, Volume 2 of G Stands For Go-Betweens is a wonderfully well put together package that satisfyingly presses all the buttons of the Aussie band’s staunchly devoted fanbase.
And that’s without mentioning that the first 400 orders, in similar fashion to Volume 1, will receive a randomly selected book from late band member Grant McLennan’s personal collection. Of course, in reality, The Go-Betweens were nothing of the sort, and much has been made of the band’s inability to turn critical acclaim into sales, yet, ultimately, the enduringly voracious appetite for their music adds up to a strong legacy.
Volume 2 documents the band’s semi-imperious mid-career phase and contains three fan favourite studio albums: the darkly poetic Liberty Belle And The Black Diamond Express (1986), the exotic Tallulah (1987) and the breezy sunshine pop of 16 Lover’s Lane (1988). The other two slabs of vinyl are dedicated to a previously unreleased Town & Country Club performance dating back to May 1987. Additionally, the box comes with five CDs of B-sides, radio sessions and rare, hard-to-find and unreleased demos, which while very nice to have would clearly be better served on vinyl. – 9/10
04 Yann Tiersen – Portrait
Usually when artists start diving into their own back catalogue as a means of musical progression it results in regressive disaster more than it does any kind of successful recapturing of previous highs. However, Tiersen’s decision here to re-record a huge chunk of his own music works out remarkably well. Guests John Grant, Gruff Rhys and Sunn O)))’s Stephen O’Malley all appear to add a new tone, essence and sense of personality to Tiersen’s catalogue; and there are five new tracks too. His string work and rich, cinematic compositions are still the backbone to his musical approach, but the tracks feel both reconceptualised and fleshed out here. Plus, any place you can hear Grant’s caramel-smooth voice in the same place as O’Malley’s ground-trembling guitar is surely one that’s worth visiting. – 8/10
05 The Who – Who
Claims of “The Who’s last album” have been made before, but there really is an air of finality about Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend’s first record since 2006’s unlovely Endless Wire. The reassuring news is WHO would be a more fitting epitaph than that album. Although Townshend has stressed he wanted to “stay away from nostalgia”, WHO’s standout tracks are self-referential. The opening All This Music Must Fade is their best pop song since Who Are You, Daltrey knowingly singing how nobody is interested in new Who songs before it crashes to a halt as he mutters, “Oh, who gives a fuck?” Rockin’ In Rage is more heartfelt.
Daltrey continues the deeper rumble showcased on last year’s undervalued solo album As Long As I Have You in a performance that rages, sure, but there’s wisdom and redemption in his voice, too. The subtler moments also work well: Beads On One String’s mysticism and the Simon Townshend-penned love song Break The News are sweet and simple outbreaks of calm. At the other end of the scale, Ball And Chain – previewed at this summer’s Wembley Stadium show – works better than you suspect a Who rant about Guantanamo Bay might.
So there’s half a great album here. The other six songs are passable, mostly mid-tempo meanderings. To paraphrase All This Music Must Fade, nobody needs them, especially forced gonzo outburst I Don’t Wanna Get Wise. Would anyone rave about WHO if it were by a new band? Doubtful. But there are enough wisps of old devilment to suggest that, all these years on, The Who aren’t a safe proposition yet either. – 7/10
Daniel Dylan Wray, Gary Tipp, John Earls