Some mu­sic to ob­sess over

Sur­prise the ultimate fan with one of these nerd-ap­proved re­leases

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - ENTERTAINMENT - STU­ART DERDEYN

Face it: Buy­ing mu­sic for se­ri­ous fans can be a com­plete drag. It can re­ally be a case of not know­ing what to get for the per­son who seems to have heard ev­ery­thing al­ready. Here are five re­leases this year that can make even a to­tal nerd take notice, writes Stu­art Derdeyn.

The Spirit of Mem­phis 1962-1976 Isaac Hayes | Stax/Craft Record­ings

Isaac Hayes would have turned 75 this year. This four CD/sev­eninch, vinyl-combo box set doc­u­ments the late com­poser, singer, player and pro­ducer’s rise from the south­ern Amer­i­can club scene into one of the his­toric greats of soul mu­sic be­hind such global smashes as the Theme from Shaft and — per­haps not the best mem­ory — voic­ing the char­ac­ter of Chef in nu­mer­ous sea­sons of South Park.

Read about how this pro­lific artist de­vel­oped the “Mem­phis Sound” in the 60-page hard­cover book loaded with archival pho­tos and in­tel­li­gent es­says as you mar­vel at how fu­tur­is­tic such rare tracks as Sir Isaac and the Do-Dad’s Blue Groove or The Mad Lads Patch My Heart sound. Quite an ap­pro­pri­ate col­lec­tion com­ing in the year that Stax Records cel­e­brates its 60th an­niver­sary. NOTE: Craft Record­ings has had a ban­ner year with box sets as documented by its com­pre­hen­sive projects on John Lee Hooker, Th­elo­nious Monk and more.

A Man I’d Rather Be (Part 1 and 2) Bert Jan­sch | Earth Record­ings

As a mem­ber of the Pen­tan­gle with the in­cred­i­ble gui­tarist John Ren­bourn, English folk/ blues artist Bert Jan­sch was key in shap­ing the en­tire U.K. folk/rock sound, as well as de­vel­op­ing the dis­tinc­tive gui­tar-hero as­pects of the acous­tic gui­tar. In terms of in­flu­ence, Jan­sch’s fans in­clude such lu­mi­nar­ies as Jimmy Page, Neil Young and Johnny Marr, and many more. It’s not hard to hear why when you hear him tackle heroin ad­dic­tion in the telling Nee­dle of Death and then jump into the coun­try shuf­fle of Court­ing Blues or get po­lit­i­cal on Anti-Apartheid.

Given that these songs were com­ing in the mid-’60s, they were ahead of the curve to be sure. The four discs in Part 1 present Jan­sch’s first two 1965 al­bums, 1966’s Jack Orion and the re­unit­ing of Jan­sch and Ren­bourn on 1966’s Bert and John. Just lis­ten to how these two aces cover Charles Min­gus’s Good­bye Pork Pie Hat and start prac­tis­ing.

The Sin­gles

Can | Mute

As one of the most im­por­tant bands in the in­flu­en­tial and ex­per­i­men­tal Ger­man Krautrock move­ment of the ‘70s, Cologne’s Can moved freely within avant-garde and pro­toam­bi­ent grooves to jazz, global sounds and some­times screech­ing psy­che­delic funk. No sur­prise that the band mem­bers would veer off wildly into unique di­rec­tions on their solo record­ings too, as they proved a seem­ingly end­less source of ideas dur­ing the 1966-1979 orig­i­nal era.

Even af­ter re­form­ing in the early 1990s, one thing Can was never known for was re­leas­ing sin­gles. Turns out the band better known for long, me­an­der­ing jams could take it all down into an un­der-four-minute-long track such as the swing­ing She Brings the Rain or the zippy Vi­ta­min C. In a per­fect world, many of the songs col­lected here should have charted. Now that they’re get­ting a sec­ond ex­po­sure, ex­pect to hear some of these tunes cov­ered by a band near you. They’re de­serv­ing.

Space, En­ergy and Light Var­i­ous artists | Soul Jazz Records

If the only mu­sic you owned was com­pi­la­tions from London’s Soul Jazz Records, you would have an amaz­ing al­bum col­lec­tion. Quite sim­ply one of the world’s best com­pi­la­tion la­bels, its re­leases fre­quently tar­get spe­cific themes. This par­tic­u­lar com­pi­la­tion col­lects mu­sic that was in­flu­enced by the space race from artists in the 1960s to the late 1980s.

Try­ing to find most of these orig­i­nal tracks would be im­pos­si­ble, as early com­puter mu­si­cians like Lau­rie Spiegel and Mother Mal­lard’s Por­ta­ble Mas­ter­piece Com­pany have been out of print for ages and they didn’t ex­actly pro­duce many copies of the orig­i­nal record­ings any­ways. From se­ri­ously ex­per­i­men­tal at­tempts at sonic ex­plo­ration with new tech­nolo­gies to un­der­ground ‘80s grit that would shape the con­tem­po­rary elec­tronic mu­sic scene, this is a fan­tas­tic voy­age.

Even a Tree Can Shed Tears: Ja­panese Folk Rock 1969-1973 Var­i­ous artists | Light in the At­tic

From the folks at the la­bel that gave us the bril­liant two-vol­ume, Na­tive North Amer­ica col­lec­tion comes this com­pi­la­tion of rare mu­sic li­censed for the first time out­side of Ja­pan. Turns out, the is­land na­tion had its own dis­tinct ‘60s sound emerge with the “New Mu­sic” sound of artists such as Kazuhiko Kato or Akai Tori. Mix­ing rock, jazz, psychedelia and tra­di­tional folk protest tunes, this of­ten-ex­per­i­men­tal mu­sic scene — check out Gu’s Mar­i­anne for an in­ter­est­ing use of bird calls — helped set the con­trols for the heart of the Rising Sun.

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