Lost Albums

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 this.

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. (Give Me)

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... (The Amusement)

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 tunes. (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. (Exotica)

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. (Circus Modern)

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. (Fish Five)

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. (Forevergreen (Foreverdreaming))

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 favorite album. (Dream Kitchen)

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. (Le Cocouchiers)

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. (Lily)

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. (5)

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.) (Searching)

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 big thing. (Client Interne)

Spoonfed Hybrid -- Spoonfed Hybrid

Ian Masters left Pale Saints and released this rather charming little album that nobody's ever heard. (Heaven's Knot)

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 on about? (Lamp)

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. (Discovered)

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 happened. (Broken English)

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. (Neuromantic)

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