The Reissue of the Year
With the rise of vinyl ever growing in a decadent craze of alternative nostalgia, 2015 has been one of the most prolific years for vinyl reissues in modern times. Discounting Cecil the fucking lion, it has been something of a milestone. The year has seen one of the finest jazz albums in recent years produced: the epic by Kamasi Washington. It has seen the anarchist punk growls of Sleaford Mods slip into the mainstream eye. Iggy Pop has hosted a fantastic radio show, and local Cambridge band Nervous Conditions have evolved into an awe-inspiringly muscular lineup. But we must not forget these chunks of past blasting that are the reissues. Among the best are Torino by Cinerama - a wonderful orchestrally-laced beat pop album created by wedding present frontman David Gedge. Another is The Magical World Of The Strands by Michael Head, lead singer of the Liverpudlian act Shack. The Magical World is an atmospheric landscape of chamber pop, lyrics of drug marauding and love-inspired guitars. But the pièce de résistance is Saint Jack by The Nectarine No.9. Reissued by Forever Heavenly records in late November, the album takes its title from an early 70s B movie of the same name. Indeed the LP courses with excerpts from said film, but the album has, since its release in 1995, been woefully overlooked - quite possibly due to the bulging-bellied beer swiggers of the Britpop era who were the main music buyers of 1995. Saint Jack, thankfully, bears no resemblance to Britpop. Founded by the former Fire Engines lead singer, and general art-rock icon of Scotland, Davy Henderson, the sound of this album takes its inspiration from the Velvets rather than Suede - and this is a far preferable fabric. Saint Jack pulsates with fierce choppy guitars, akin to The Fire Engines, however it also features infectiously repetitive organ sounds, pounding drumming, lulling changes of pace and artfully dissonant clashes of sound. This is an album of exquisite quality from start to finish. The opener, Saint Jack, is a raunchy pop number that encourages sing alongs although few will obey such encouragement. It moves on to almost oriental sounding instrumentals in the form of Curdled Fragments and Fading Memory Babe - the former a furthering of the instrumental into Sweet Jane perhaps? It moves and sways at the indulgence of Henderson, meandering between thumping post-punk numbers like Can't Scratch Out to the strange instrumentals of white noise in It's Not My Baby Putting Me Down. There is not a single weak track on this LP. It is varied and measured with a Midas touch, and even features spoken word poetry from whiskey-soaked beat poet Jock Scott. My personal highlights are My Trapped Lightning, Firecrackers, Clipped Wings & Flower Stings, Un-loaded For You, and Tape Your Head On. But given that the above is nearly a whole side of the album, it seems unfair to even select highlights. This LP is a highlight. A highlight of an underrated band relishing the lack of expectation in order to create an album that is completely personal. This is art in the form of music; not something pretentious and probably orchestrated by Philip Glass, but genuine human art. It is a painting of a time, of an art rock movement, of an inspired frontman projecting his influences in a raw and unadulterated barrage of sound.