I hope you’ve been good this year because Christmas is very near and there are so many great releases just waiting to be stuffed into your stocking. Hmmm… that sounded awkward.
I’d like to draw your attention to a slew of great releases from LIGHT IN THE ATTIC RECORDS, one of the most unique and exciting labels out there. Primarily a reissue label, LIGHT IN THE ATTIC releases music they love and believe in. I’m sure that they want their titles to sell, but a label that is genuinely excited about every title in their catalog is a label to pay attention to. So, if LIGHT IN THE ATTIC is not a label on your radar, then they should be. They are music fans first… just like us!
Anyway, here’s a quick rundown on some of their recent releases. I’d love to go more in depth, but you need to head down to your local indie record store and buy them right now. OR update your gift list and send it off to Santa straight away!
VAROUS ARTISTS/This Record Belongs To…
Regardless of how sophisticated or sophomoric their music may come across on record, the best songwriters are ones that have maintained a grasp on the innocence of their youth. The magic and wonder of music that inspired them becomes a subconscious part of their songwriting process – there is always a childlike quality to their lyrics and/or melodies. So, when this particular collection was put together just for young music fans, they skipped over the children’s music standards and went straight for adult music that had that ‘young at heart’ charm to it. Artists like Carol King, Harry Nilsson, Van Dyke Parks and Donovan rub shoulders with The Pointer Sisters, Jerry Garcia, Woody Guthrie and Nina Simone and it all flows together beautifully. Some might think that Kermit The Frog singing “Rainbow Connection” is a ‘kids’ tune – I guess it kinda is – but they forget that legendary songwriter Paul Williams co-wrote it with the equally legendary Kenny Ascher so it makes perfect sense to close this collection with it. I know that children’s music has a tendency to drive grown-ups bonkers but this set achieves a perfect balance that so many others have failed at – an album for kids of all ages! So, if you grew up in the ‘70s on a steady diet of American Bandstand and Sesame Street and want to buy some music for your kids or grandkids, then start here. In fact, this is available on CD and vinyl… AND there is also a turntable created just for this release! Christmas sorted! Ho! Ho! Ho!
THE KITCHEN SINQ/When the Rainbow Disappears: Anthology 1965-68
Every decade has loads of good-to-great bands that, for one reason or another, never really made much of a mark outside of their own hometown. The Kitchen Sinq were a Texas-bred Garage band that certainly had the drive, the look, the energy and ‘the sound’ to make it but never did. This collection includes everything released on Lee Hazelwood’s LHI label including their Everything But album and non-LP singles, rare early pre-Kitchen Sinq recordings and more. The band evolved over these recordings, from Garage Rock stormers to Pop perfection, but somehow avoided the attention of a wider audience, which is a shame. They did have plenty of potential and that is apparent on this insane collection of audio goodies. The Rock ‘n’ Roll landscape is paved with shoulda-beens – time to add The Kitchen Sinq to that list!
THE CITY/Now That Everything’s Been Said
After her incredibly successful career as a songwriter throughout the ‘60s but just before her solo career took off, Carole King moved to Laurel Canyon and formed the oft-forgotten trio The City with Charles Larkey and Danny Kortchmar. Their only album, Now That Everything’s Been Said, was released in 1968 but wasn’t a commercial success. The band split in 1969 and Carole went solo – we all know how THAT went! Surprisingly, even though Carole became a solo star just a few years later, this long-lost gem wasn’t reissued until 30 years after its initial release (and even that version is long deleted). However, this album deserved much more acclaim and attention than it has received over the years. The songwriting is top notch and the sound of the album isn’t that different than her early ‘70s hit albums like Writer, Music and Tapestry. “Snow Queen” is right up there with the best of her solo material and would have totally fit on any of those early albums. There’s a loose and joyful vibe on every track, as if they didn’t feel any pressure to make a ‘hit’ record. On the other hand, it’s a shame that this album was NOT a hit. Heck, Carole singing t “That Old Sweet Roll (Hi De Ho)” – a song she wrote with Gerry Goffin – is here and is almost as fun as the Blood Sweat & Tears cover (known simply as “Hi De Ho”)! This remaster sound lovely, crisp, warm and clear and serves the music well. Definitely for fans of Carole’s music, the Laurel Canyon scene and quality pop songwriting.
LIZZY MERCIER DESCLOUX/Press Color
I’ve always been fond of artists like Lizzy Mercier Descloux – she doesn’t fit into any genre comfortably yet her fan base ranges from those into avant-garde and experimental music to those who favor ‘80s pop, punk, jazz, funk and rock. Trying to describe Lizzy’s music is quite difficult. However, that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try! So, here goes: if you took Giorgio Moroder, tossed him into the New York No Wave scene of the late ‘70s, added Gina X and Nico as vocalists, had David Byrne and James White/James Chance throw paint at it, asked David Bowie to pack it into a box and then let Quentin Tarantino remix the audio cacophony into an easily digestible record, you’d get Press Color. The fact that Lizzy was part of the whole Ze Records movement of the late ‘70s makes total sense – a lot of great and influential releases came from that label. Needless to say, this album is all over the place yet it is also a very cohesive affair. The album is still as exciting as it was over three decades ago and it will still engage just as many people as it will annoy. THAT is the sign of a job well done! (P.S. Light In The Attic has just announced more Lizzy reissues in the future! Perhaps this late, great artist will finally reach a wider audience.)
Peace, love and all that stuff,
Stephen SPAZ Schnee