Indie Basement: Best Reissues, Box Sets & Compilations of 2022
For a reviews column steeped in "classic indie, college rock and more," Indie Basement has the past baked into its genes and I regularly cover reissues, represses, scene comps, box sets and more alongside lots of newer music. Every year is a good year for reissues but this year saw some white whale releases -- and Thin White Dukes -- and some surprises too. All of these fall under the Indie Basement umbrella, even the ones centered around some of the most famous rock musicians of all time. There's '80s soundtracks, '90s chillout, '00s indie sleaze mashups, space age bachelor pad music, pink robots, carrot ropes and more. I picked 16 that I was excited about and still am.
Head below for my picks for best reissues, box sets and compilations of 2022.
Also check out the Indie Basement Top 40 Albums of 2022.
INDIE BASEMENT - BEST REISSUES, BOX SETS & COMPILATIONS OF 2022
...in alphabetical order
2ManyDJs - As Heard On Radio Soulwax Pt. 2 (DEEWEE)
If you have fond memories of the early-'00s mashup craze, or just appreciate unbelievably clever mixing and sampling, few did it better than 2ManyDJs, aka Soulwax's Stephen and David Dewaele. Their deep, crate-digger knowledge of music and outside-the-box mentality made for some of the most fun, unexpected mashups of the era, and few records document the time as well as As Heard On Radio Soulwax Pt. 2. Originally released in August 2002, the 67-minute continuous mix gleefully blends Emerson Lake & Palmer with Basement Jaxx, Destiny's Child with 10cc, Peaches' "Fuck the Pain Away" with The Velvet Underground's "I'm Waiting for the Man," Dolly Parton and Royksopp, and throws in everything from The Cramps and The Residents to New Order, Lords of Acid, Sly & the Family Stone, Skee-lo and more along the way. Famously difficult to release due to all the sample clearances, the mix has been repressed on vinyl for the first time since its release and is coming soon to streaming services for the first time ever. The early '00s may now feel like the last remnants of a fading hangover, but this captures the era as vividly as candids from the Cobrasnake.
Broadcast - Maida Vale Sessions (Warp)
Broadcast's four studio albums were known for their mix of beauty, noise, baroque psychedelia and clinical precision, but this compilation of BBC sessions recorded at the famed Maida Vale studio shows the group were not just technicians in lab coats -- they could pull it off live, too. The album features four sessions recorded between 1996 and 2003, three of which were for John Peel and all of them are fantastic. Classics like "Come On Let's Go," "The Book Lovers," "Echo's Answer" and "Colour Me In" are shown in new light, with more bite and menace, but still with that otherworldly quality that comes with Trish Keenan's voice and a sound that has been imitated many times since her death in 2011, but never bettered. Warp also released two tour-only rarities -- Microtonics Volumes 1 & 2 and Mother is the Milky Way -- this year, but Maida Vale Sessions is the real gem.
David Bowie – A Divine Symmetry: An Alternative Journey Through Hunky Dory (Parlophone)
Released in December, 1971, Hunky Dory was a watershed album for David Bowie, influenced by visiting America and New York in particular, meeting Lou Reed and Andy Warhol, and becoming a father. The album delivered on the promise of The Man Who Sold the World and marked the true beginning of a decade on RCA Records full of endless innovation and few missteps. A Divine Symmetry looks at the year leading up to the album via home demos, BBC radio sessions and live and studio recordings that allow us to hear such classics as "Changes, "Life on Mars," "Quicksand" (a lyric gives this comp its title), "Kooks," "Queen Bitch," "Song for Bob Dylan" and more to take shape. There are also some demos here that would take a decade to fully form, like "King of the City" which would eventually become "Ashes to Ashes." Divine Symmetry also features alternate mixes of nearly every song from the album, offering a fascinating What If for an artist who seemed to exist across multiple parallel universes.
The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots 25th Anniversary Edition (Warner Bros)
The Flaming Lips managed to make their biggest hit some 20 years into their existence with Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, an album and subsequent tour that fully transformed them from psych rock weirdos to the popular psych rock weirdos who are still spewing confetti and pleasing crowds with "Do You Realize?" to this day. This 20th anniversary box set has just about everything you'd want this side of a surround sound mix, with demos, b-sides, EPs, outtakes, covers (Radiohead, The White Stripes, Kylie Minogue), unreleased tracks, remixes, radio sessions, and two full live performances from the era, along with cool new artwork by frontman Wayne Coyne and an oral history booklet that details the creation of the album. It's a maximalist box set befitting a maximalist album such as this.
Note: the 100-track 6-CD set is out now, while the 56-track 5-LP vinyl set will be out spring 2023
House of Love - Burn Down the World: The Fontana Years 1989-1993 (Cherry Red)
These days The House of Love are perhaps best known for their early, influential albums and singles on Creation Records, but they made their most popular material when they signed to major label Fontana, including such singles as "I Don't Know Why I Love You," "The Beatles & The Stones," "Feel," and "The Girl With the Loneliest Eyes." Eight CD box set Burn Down the World collects nearly all of House of Love's output on Fontana, including hits, b-sides, Peel Sessions, rarities and 13 previously unreleased tracks. Like a lot of British bands of the era, House of Love stuck a lot of their best songs on b-sides (and there were a LOT of b-sides) so it's great to have them all in one big set and it's a good excuse to revisit this era of the band.
Laddio Bolocko – ’97-’99 (Castle Face)
Laddio Bolocko were a late-'90s NYC noise/psych band who were often compared to Can and This Heat, and known for their blistering live shows. The group released two albums -- 1997's Strange Warmings of Laddio Bolocko and 1998's In Real Time -- and the 1999 As If By Remote EP before calling it quits in 2001; guitarist Drew St. Ivany and bassist Ben Armstrong went on to form The Psychic Paramount, while drummer Blake Fleming joined The Mars Volta. While a bit out of step with what else was going on in NYC at the time, these records make more sense now in an era when those Can and This Heat albums are on streaming serviecs. Now everyone can hear Laddio Bolocko too, as they've been saved from footnote status by OSEES' frontman John Dwyer and his label Castle Face who have reissued them in this three disc set that also marks their first time on vinyl. More than anything, it makes you wish you'd caught them when they were around and nearly no one noticed.
The Lemonheads - It’s a Shame About Ray (30th Anniversary Edition) (Fire)
The Lemonheads' 1992 album It's A Shame About Ray found the onetime Boston punks fully transformed into a vehicle for the undeniable songwriting talents and smoky voice of Evan Dando. Featuring Juliana Hatfield on bass and backing vocals and a tracklist that plays like a Greatest Hits, the album is packed with early-'90s alt-rock earworms like "Confetti," "My Drug Buddy," "Alison's Starting to Happen," "Rudderless," "Ceiling Fan in My Spoon," and the soaring title track. It remains their finest hour -- well, finest 29 minutes and 46 secods. This 30th anniversary edition includes a second vinyl disc of extras, including their hit cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "Mrs Robinson," a great rendition of ABBA's "Knowing Me, Knowing You," b-sides "Shakey Ground" and "Divan," acoustic versions, radio sessions, and Dando's demo versions of most of the album's songs.
Lou Reed – Words & Music, May 1965 (Light in the Attic)
Just when you thought you'd heard every possible rarity, outtake, lost recording, etc associated with The Velvet Underground, it turns out there was lots more stored in Lou Reed's storage shed, or wherever he kept stuff that is now coming out as part of his official Archive. The first to be dusted off is this collection of early recordings Reed made with soon-to-be-bandmate John Cale, that he mailed to his parent's house as a way of copyrighting them. The package had never been opened until Laurie Anderson found it recently. Most of these bare-bones recordings were laid down live with acoustic guitars, a little harmonica and harmonies. It's a crucial artifact in the history of one of the most influential groups of all time and a showcase of the resilience of these songs -- including "I'm Waiting for the Man," "Heroin," and "Pale Blue Eyes" -- that have stood up to nearly 60 years of arrangements in every genre imaginable. There are also seven never-before-heard Reed compositions, a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” and a doo-wop number recorded in ‘58 when Reed was just 16 years old. It will be interesting to see what they find next.
Max Tundra - Some Best Friend You Turned Out to Be / Mastered by Guy at the Exchange / Parallax Error Beheads You reissues & Remixtape (Domino)
A lot of records get described "it's like BAND and BAND playing GENRE...in a blender!" but Ben Jacobs' three '00s albums as Max Tundra -- 2000's Some Best Friend You Turned Out to Be, 2002’s Mastered by Guy at the Exchange, and 2008's Parallax Error Beheads You -- truly sound like someone put pop songs in a food processor, and hit "Puree." Working primarily on the cultishly loved Commodore Amiga computer, the manic, slice-and-diced, autotuned, tweaked-beyond-recognition style of electronic pop found on those albums will still have you wondering if your stereo is malfunctioning or if it's supposed to sound like this. With those Max also planted the seeds for what is now known as hyperpop, and PC Music and Jockstrap are among those who owe him a nickel or two. Domino has reissued those albums on vinyl and all three are terrific -- 2002's Mastered by Guy at the Exchange is still the most mindblowing, but 2008's Parallax Error Beheads You adds more melody to the mayhem. As a companion piece, Max released Remixtape which features remixes, reworks and covers by some of the current artists he influenced, including Kero Kero Bonito, A.G. Cook, Katie Day, Julia Holter and more, making for a nice, full-circle moment.
Neu! - ‘50!’ (Groenland)
Formed by Klaus Dinger and Michael Rother after leaving Kraftwerk, Neu! created such a specific sound -- riding on a hypnotic motorik groove -- that has been so influential, so ripped off, it can feel a little less special. But they really did it first, and nobody since has quite replicated their magic. "The sound they made was very REAL - alive and emotional," says New Order drummer Stephen Morris, of first hearing Neu! in the mid-'70s. "Ambient and driving - it was like they were there in my bedroom with me." Celebrating the band's 50th anniversary, 50! is a great way to appreciate all that Neu! brought to music, featuring their studio album albums NEU!, NEU! 2!, and NEU! 75. For those already well acquainted with the band, the box also contains the excellent NEU! Tribute Album, that features cool and often surprising reworks/covers of Neu! tracks by The National, IDLES, Man Man, Mogwai, Guerilla Toss, Hot Chip's Alexis Taylor, Yann Tiersen, They Hate Change, and more. You get a sense that all the artists here were honored to be involved and really tried hard to make their contributions worthy of Kinger and Rother.
Pavement - Terror Twilight: Frontwards Horizontal (Matador)
Long rumored and much delayed, the deluxe edition of Pavement's final album, that many fans thought would never happen, finally got released this year, coming with a remastered edition of the record and producer Nile Godrich's original suggested (but unused) running order, plus 28 never-before-heard bonus tracks including a lot of Stephen Malkmus demos, and a booklet featuring rare photos and a new oral history of the record. Maybe it's Godrich's track order, maybe it's just time away, but Terror Twilight sounds pretty good 20+ years removed from its release, and has gotten better with age. It also sounds much more like a Pavement album now than it did in 1999 when the baggage of its creation came with it, even though Kanneberg's essay in the liner notes is titled "The Terror Twilight... or Pavement’s All Shook Down," which is a reference to The Replacements' final album that many consider to be a Paul Westerberg solo album. The bonus material will have fans digging for clues, but more than anything it shows that Terror Twilight was a proper send-off to one of the most iconic indie rock groups of the '90s.
Ride -Nowhere / Going Blank Again / 4 EPs Reissues (Wichita)
All of Ride's original Creation Records-era albums came out on vinyl when they were first released in the '90s, but that was during the height of CDs, and LPs were more of a contractual obligation from labels than something they put a lot of care into. So it's great that Ride's current label, Wichita, has reissued their first two albums, 1990's Nowhere and 1992's Going Blank Again, on vinyl, remastered with involvement from the band. Perhaps even more exciting, they gathered up Ride's crucial first four EPs onto one double vinyl set. This is the prime era Ride, featuring almost all their best-loved shoegaze classics, and before they got bit by the Britpop bug. "These are my favourite pressings ever of these albums," singer/guitarist Andy Bell told us. "Creation was an amazing record label but they didn’t press on the greatest vinyl. I’d rather have one of these new ones than an original any day." The only downside is they're currently UK only, but hopefully they'll bring some with them on their 2023 Nowhere tour.
Stereolab - Pulse of the Early Brain [Switched On, Vol. 5] (Warp/Duophonic UHF Disks)
Knowing their record nerd fanbase well (they are their fanbase!), Stereolab have long brought a Pokemon "gotta collect 'em all" ethos to their discography, dropping some of their best songs over the years on non-album singles, EPs, mini-LPs, b-sides, flexis, various artist comps, and more. They are a band who probably have more non-LP songs than songs on albums. For those who don't keep a running spreadsheet of what they have and still need, Stereolab helpfully have been collecting those odds and ends on their Switched On series which they reactivated in 2021 with Volume 4 and may have finally completed with this year's Pulse of the Early Brain (Switched on Volume 5). Unlike the first four, which mostly went chronologically, Pulse pulls from all over the band's original 1990 - 2000 run, including 1997 Simple Headphone Mind collaborative LP with Nurse With Wound; 1992’s Low Fi EP (the first record to feature drummer Andy Ramsay and backing vocalist Mary Hansen), stray songs from various editions of 2008’s Chemical Chords, and a terrific live version of "Cybele’s Reverie" recorded at Hollywood Bowl in 2004 when they were opening for Air. If this is end of the Lab's archives, maybe it will inspire the band, who've been playing live again since 2019, to write some new material.
Various Artists - Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs Present Fell from the Sun: Downtempo and After-Hours 1990-91 (Ace)
Despite what Julie Andrews says, you can't dance all night, or at least you shouldn't. Take a break! Even at the height of the original UK rave scene, they had chillout rooms where DJs spun slower but still groovy records, influenced by ambient and dub, and made for head-bobbing and hydrating. Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs, who formed Saint Etienne in 1990 at the height (and center) of that scene, have put together a fantastic double-album compilation of some of the era's best, headiest, chillest singles with most of the major players. The late, great Andrew Weatherall was really at the heart of this just-below-100-BPM scene, and he's represented here with Primal Scream's "Higher Than the Sun" (in its "Higher than the Orb" extended mix), and One Dove (his collaborative project with Dot Allison) and their single "Fallen." There's also Dave Ball and Richard Norris duo The Grid with "Floatation" (whose singer, Sacha Souter, graces the cover of this comp); Moodswings' "Spiritual High,"BBG's "Snappiness," Saint Etienne's own "Speedwell" and more. Stanley & Wiggs aren't afraid to dip a little into '90s cheese, but it's surprising how well these tracks still play today.
Various Artists - Life Moves Pretty Fast: The John Hughes Mixtapes (Demon)
Like no other major studio filmmaker of the '80s, John Hughes seemed to have his finger on the pulse and his ear to the street -- both with the way teenagers talked and what they listened to, at least the teenagers who lived in big cities (or hip fictional suburbs, like Shermer, IL) that had access to cool record stores. His soundtracks were loaded with cutting edge bands of the era and many people's first exposure, myself included, to groups like The Smiths, New Order, Echo & The Bunnymen and Simple Minds came via the soundtracks of his films. But often the best songs in Hughes' movies didn't actually make it to the official soundtrack album, or in the case of Ferris Bueller's Day Off, they never released a soundtrack at all. This box set goes a long way to remedying that, featuring nearly everything fans could want including the hits ("Don't You [Forget About Me]," "If You Leave") and long-sought after rarities like The Flowerpot Men's "Beat City." Perfect for the Sporto, motorhead, geek, slut, blood, wastoid, dweebie, or dickhead in your life.
Various Artists - Life Between Islands: Soundsystem Culture - Black Musical Expression In The UK 1973 - 2006 (Souljazz)
Released in conjunction with the "Life Between Islands" exhibit at London's Tate Modern that features British Caribbean art from the '50s on, this double album compilation looks at UK soundsystem culture from the '70s through the '00s. Jamaicans brought the concept of roving soundsystems with them to England where there were few legal places to congregate and hear and dance to their own music in the '60s and '70s. At house parties, soundsystem DJ crews played ska, rocksteady, lovers rock, and other reggae variations -- with the DJs live "toasting" overtop -- but they evolved as the music did. Life Between Islands tracks nearly a quarter century of innovations, from roots through jungle/drum and bass and beyond, and features music by Dennis Bovell, Shut Up and Dance, Cymande, Digital Mystikz, Brown Sugar, Funk Masters, Janet Kay, Ragga Twins, and more. Through Soul Jazz's expert curation, it not only documents an important history but also holds together as a collection despite the myriad styles and years represented here.
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