By Lars Magne Ingebrigtsen
Inspired by The Wire's list of great lost albums and the recent
spate of "Best Albums of All Time" lists, I wanted to list albums
that I think are quite good, but I haven't seen anybody talk about
for at least a decade.
The Wire's list was very nice. It included albums that were
released in three copies by a gang of subterranean blind people in
New Orleans in 1947, and I'd guess that it is probably the best
album ever released in three copies by a gang of subterranean
blind people in New Orleans in 1947.
This list of album is a lot less lost than that. The other
inspiration is those annoying "Best Albums of All Time", which
always turns out to be "Albums I Was Listening To When I Was
Fifteen, and Newer Albums That Sound Exactly Like That". (I guess
I see why they go with the former heading; the euphemism is
snappier than the reality.)
So this is mostly a list of albums I was listening to when I
was all young and stuff, and that I don't think deserve to be lost
to humanity for all time. I may be wrong, of course. It's really
difficult to try to judge music that you've listened to for such a
long time in any rational manner. So I've included samples from
the albums here. Judge for yourself. However, if you actually
like what you hear, it's unlikely that you'll be able to find the
albums. Most music is out of print.
So this is neither a list of my very favorite albums, nor is
it a list of albums that are totally obscure. But if you're
younger than 25, I'd say it's unlikely that you've heard much of
A. C. Marias -- One of Our Girls (Has Gone Missing)
There's some connection to Wire (the group) here, and it's easy to
tell. Melancholy tunes with odd instrumentation.
Andrew Poppy -- Alphabed
Poppy released a couple of Reichian albums on ZTT before going off
to do other stuff. I've always found "Alphabed" and "The Beating
of Wings" to be very interesting, although it's kinda hard to say
who else would...
Bark Psychosis -- Hex
One of the Barkers went on to do drum'n'bass later with Boymerang,
but there isn't much hint of that here. Slow, meditative, tuneful
(A Street Scene)
Blaine L. Reininger & Alain Goutier -- Paris en Autumne
Blaine is the superstar of Tuxedomoon fame, of course, and most of
his albums are coming back into print. This one, a collaboration
with bassis Alain Goutier hasn't. And it really should.
(Paris en Autumne)
Carlos D'Alessio -- India Song
The soundtrack to one of Marguerita Duras' blockbusters. I was
entranced by the movie, and overjoyed to find that not only did
this album contain the fantastic music from that movie, but also
other funny and pretty pieces that he's done over the years.
(India Song (piano))
Chris & Cosey -- Exotika
Released some years after Throbbing Gristle broke up, this album
really does sound quite exotic.
Circus Modern -- Circus Modern
The post-punk revival is seemingly still going strong, but there's
so much from that time that nobody's heard of. Like these guys.
Colin Newman -- Provisionally Entitled The Singing Fish
Another Wire spin-off project destined for a life in obscurity.
Which is understandable; it's pretty obscure music. I've listened
to it a lot, though.
Colourbox -- Colourbox
Remember those two months back in 1982 when reggae was going to be
the next thing? No? Take my word for it; it was. Colourbox
later had a chart-topping hit with "Pump Up The Volume" as
"M|A|R|R|S", and was never heard from again.
(Baby I Love You So)
Consolidated -- Play More Music
Now, Consolidated were pretty famous back then. I even remember
seeing them on MTV. But they went out of fashion faster than
orange bell-bottoms. Now that those pants are back, perhaps
Consolidated will, too. Perhaps not.
(Tool and Die)
Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft -- Gold und Liebe
Now these people really should be back in fashion. Now that
Peaches is doing stadium tours, I think it makes sense to put all
three good DAF albums back into heavy rotation. "Gold und Liebe",
"Für Immer" and "Alles ist Gut".
(Gold und Liebe)
Doubting Thomas -- The Infidel
Remember Skinny Puppy? No? Good, because all their albums were
great back then, but they're unlistenable now. This side project
resulted in this album which can still be listened to...
(Come In Piece)
Earwig -- Under My Skin I Am Laughing
Earwig metamorphosed into Insides and released a great album, but
this one's also pretty nice. Languid and intimate.
(Every Day Shines)
Finitribe -- An Unexcepted Groovy Treat
Finitribe started out a lot more abrasive, but then discovered
dance music (and probably ecstasy) and released this album, which
is very nice.
Flora Purim -- Speed of Light
Now here's an album that deserves to stay lost, but there's one
really great song here.
(Light as my Flo')
Frazier Chorus -- Sue
Ah. Frazier Chorus. The wistful melodies. The wimpy vocals.
The abstract/concrete lyrics. The charm. The obscurity. A
Gary Clail -- Dreamstealers
I bet you don't remember back when Adrian Sherwood was hot stuff,
either. I certainly don't. A few of his productions remain
enjoyable. Like this one.
(These Things Are Worth Fighting For)
Hector Zazou -- Geographies
French composer Hector Zazou certainly has done lots of stuff
during his career, and most of it is dull, but this album and
"Reivax au Bongo" are rather charming.
Heidi Berry -- Love
Heidi Berry always was someone who should have been sort-of
famous. Like Suzanne Vega. Instead she was famous like Heidi
Berry. She did a few really gorgeous albums, though.
Holger Hiller -- Oben im Eck
Hiller is often more interesting than enjoyable, but this insane
album has a certain jennesequa, but it's not for the timid.
(We Don't Write Anything On Paper Or So)
Kissing the Pink -- Naked
That Kissing the Pink were living in a sort-of commune while
recording this (and the next) album explains quite a bit. The
music is all over the place, skipping from one idea to the next
with a breathtaking speed. It's rather fantastic. Their record
label then tried to make them into the next Duran Duran, shortened
their name to KTP, and the rest is obscurity.
(Big Man Restless)
Leslie Winer -- Witch
Before trip-hop, Leslie Winer released this stunning album of
blunted beats and confused lyrics that went on to do... nothing.
She was a super-model in the '80s, worked as William Burroughs
recording engineer, and then did this album. And then she
disappeared. This album was re-released in France only in 2001,
and she now has a web-log up.
Mimi -- Soak
Released a few years back on David Byrne's record label, this
outstanding album from the vocalist of Hugo Largo didn't make much
of a blip on the universal consciousness.
(Piece of Cake)
New Music -- Warp
Hopelessly commercial, awfully uncool, but rather nice
early-eighties electronic pop music.
Phranc -- I Enjoy Being A Girl
Ex-punk rocker Phranc decided to get an acoustic guitar and become
a folksinger. And so she did.
(Miriam and Esther)
Pink Industry -- Retrospective
A British early-eighties band making a very laid-back, spacious,
pleasant racket. Apparently a splinter group from Pink Industry,
Big in Japan and Frankie Goes To Hollywood.
(Enjoy The Pain)
Pieter Nooten & Michael Brook -- Sleeps With The Fishes
Pieter Nooten had just quit Clan of Xymox, and Michael Brook
continued being Michael Brook. Together they made this one album
that's rather exquisite in its floating, melodic sadness. (This
may be pushing the definition of "lost" a bit, since I'd guess
that anybody who was a 4AD fan back in those days will probably
have a copy of this somewhere.)
Propaganda -- A Secret Wish
Back when Frankie Goes To Hollywood was the big thing, their
producer snuck out this great album by these four dour germans.
Then the group split and one of the German guys released a string
of awful albums. This album has just been re-released. On SACD,
even. Which I guess means that it really shouldn't be on this list.
(Sorry For Laughing)
Rhythm King And Her Friends -- Rhythm King And Her Friends
Not so much "lost" as "never released", I think. I saw them
opening for Le Tigre a couple of years ago, and I was blown away
by this dimunitive German trio. So very bouncy. I got this CDR
at the concert, and it's very nice. Perhaps they'll be the next
Spoonfed Hybrid -- Spoonfed Hybrid
Ian Masters left Pale Saints and released this rather charming
little album that nobody's ever heard.
Steve Martland -- Glad Day
Steve Martland is apparently a contemporary composer. For some
strange reason or other, Factory managed to get him to record
this, er, pop EP. I think it's rather fine, but this might be a
very acquired taste.
(Festival of Britain)
Suddenly, Tammy! -- Suddenly, Tammy!
Suddenly, Tammy! were an early-nineties American indie group, I
guess. Quite spiky, but with this wonderful pop sensibility
running through. And those weird lyrics! What on Earth are they
Sussan Deihim & Richard Horowitz -- Desert Equations: Azax Attra
Strange instrumentation, vocal gymnastics, oblique melodies. It's
a cult classic that never was.
(I'm a Man)
Two Nice Girls -- 2 nice girls
Features the immortal sing-along classic "Spent My Last $10 (On
Birth Control and Beer)", the wonderful "Sweet Jane (With
Affection)" medley and lots of other songs that you deserve to
hear. (The "Like A Version" EP is also great.)
(Sweet Jane (With Affection))
The Virgin-Whore Complex -- Stay Away From My Mother
Sharp, funny lyrics and good pop tunes. If you're unable to sing
along with these songs after hearing them a bunch of times, you're
a stronger person than I am.
Winston Tong -- Theoretically Chinese
After parting with Tuxedomoon, Tong signed with Les Disques de
Crepuscule and released this slick, commercial-sounding album.
The world was stunned and pretended they didn't know what had
Yukihiro Takahashi -- Neuromantic
I never listened to YMO, but Yukihiro Takahashi was one of the
trio. I always connected this album with Japan (the group, not
the country), for some reason. It might just be because my sister
bought both this album and "Tin Drum" at vaguely the same time,
but they do feel like they fit.
So there you are. Usually there's a reason why lost albums remain
lost. Sometimes not.
Last modified: Sun Jan 4 06:59:13 CET 2004