Various Artists — Twentieth Anniversary
(Rykodisc RCD10651, 2003, 2CD)
by Jeff Melton, Published 2004-09-01It's surprising that Rykodisc is still around, considering that the advent of digital recordings and CDs has now evolved and been relegated to old school. Since it is a year of anniversaries, Rykodisc has combed through their vast back catalog and served up a representative set of tracks and artists that indicate just how innovative the label was when record companies were too slow to adopt new technologies. This two-disc retrospective is a balanced look at selections ranging from Frank Zappa to the Replacements and Yoko Ono's controversial works to English folk legend Nick Drake. In the last twenty years Ryko had the foresight to offer David Bowie a non-nonsense deal to remaster his entire back catalog and issue one of the first boxed sets, Sound and Vision, which I still have on my shelf, that captured the marketplace with the precedent setting of presenting rare live and demo recordings that not only appealed to collectors but curious newbies. Devo's herky-jerky cover of the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction" (which was a gale of fresh alternative air) stands up well against musical cousins They Might be Giants, if only for originality and quirkiness. In the 90s the label was a vanguard for independent artists such as Morphine, Golden Smog, and Soul Asylum, all with various degrees of acclaim, recognition (and eventually leading to signing with major labels after Ryko helped get them on the map). There are artists as diverse as UK folk rocker Richard Thompson (1983's "Tear Stained Letter") to groove masters Martin, Medeski and Wood's track "Bubblehouse." Lastly, let us not forget that Frank Zappa also chose the same label to release his back catalog (represented on disc two with "Joe's Garage"). In summary, without Rykodisc pushing major labels into the early digital age, it would have been several more years before CDs replaced LPs and cassettes as the media of choice for music delivery.
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more