Karlheinz Stockhausen – Adventures In Sound – Él Records

Karlheinz Stockhausen was a prolific composer and creator/ manipulator of sound. He lived between 1928 and 2007 in which time he composed some 376 works. His legacy and the ideas incorporated within last and inspire to this day, perhaps in ways that you may not even be aware of. Beginning to compose pieces at the beginning of the 1950’s what you will hear contained from that time is Kontra Punte (Counter-Points) from 1952-53.  Which rearranges the classical repertoire into new, almost shapeless forms as he and composers of a similar mind-set challenged how music could be made after the second world war. Remaining otherworldly – with a spiritual dimension – redefining what was possible/ acceptable is an accolade only afforded to a few throughout the history of music.

This three cd boxset from EL charts the territory explored by Stockhausen while also including work by Pierre Boulez, examples of musique concrète from Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry alongside others which used recorded sounds as raw material. These collages of stimulation exist in a unique space of their own, even now, reflecting an uneasy world around them, yet there is also something reassuring about the flowing, freeform of expression as they take your imagination and run with it. Stockhausen’s own Gesang der Jünglinge inspired The Beatles – Revolution 9 and you can hear how too (and he’s there on the cover of Sergeant Pepper’s). The third disc: Electronic Music For The Mind And Body features further studies in those concepts like John Cage’s magnificent Aria with Fontana Mix, as well as from Iannis Xenakis and the wonderful György Ligeti. The collection is accompanied by an invaluable booklet containing photographs and text setting this incredible story in context. And if you want to look beyond the familiar worlds of melody and syncopation then this is a perfect starting point.

Release: October 26




Kubrick’s Music: Selections From The Films Of Stanley Kubrick – EL Records

Kubrick’s very best films were steeped in mystery which required you to think beyond what lay in front of you on the screen. Things you witness sat in the memory, sometimes identifying themselves, creating the underlying sense of unease: HAL. I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that. You’ll remember that dialogue from 2001: A Space Odyssey from 1968 because as much as you reverberated with fear, you also marvelled at the depth celluloid could fathom. In much the same way that The Shining and A Clockwork Orange worked. The other notable was always the accompanying soundtrack which enhanced scenes without completely overpowering them, although they did often perilously come close. This excellent four CD boxset captures some of those various moments in time from 1957’s Paths Of Glory right through to the directors final film, Eyes Wide Shut from 1999. And highlighting a lot of those transcendent screenshots are the wild and varied music from the likes of Johann Strauss II, contrasted by Gene Kelly’s ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ and the haunting ‘Midnight, The Stars & You’ by Ray Noble & His Orchestra (featuring Al Bowlly), to the then exhilarating Jazz of John Coltrane and Oscar Peterson, to name just a very few. Some of the music included was only finally used during production, to be later replaced, but as was all part of the original plan they play like an intriguing addition. In many ways, this compilation is almost too much to take in in one sitting and, like his films, require repeated viewing to fully absorb the full wealth and breadth of precisely what’s surrounding you.

Release: September 28



The Contempo Story 1973-1977: The Original Home Of Soul – Soul Time/ Cherry Red Records

Located just off Oxford Street at 42 Hanway Street, London you would find Contempo, a record shop and mail order company opened in 1970 by Blues And Soul magazine founder John Abbey. They dealt out some of the hottest Black Music of the time as well as becoming established booking agents and promoters. This brand new compilation of their record releases pays testament to the strength of both the label and the music which existed then – like a bygone age, acting in defiance of today’s often bland, mechanical repetition. Spanning three cd’s of bliss as voices soar, feelings are realised and music transcends it seems like a strange, hidden pleasure to discover such an experience in the digital reality of 2018. The other vital thing that becomes quickly apparent is the sheer diversity of the sounds from Northern Soul’s up-tempo R&B with the likes of Major Lance etc to the low-slung Funk of The Masai’s ‘Cross The Track’ alongside Cymande’s timeless ‘Brothers On The Slide’ – which still sends shivers. Of course, the music evolved with the years and fresh styles where absorbed as the second disc flies by. 1975’s Howeefeel ‘Just Can’t Do Without Love (A Thousand Faces) feels like a long lost breezy classic and there’s a whole lot more revealed of that calibre too. Disco never was a dirty word and Crown Heights Affair delicious ‘Dancin’ testifies to the fact. Sam And Dave’s wonderful version of ‘Why Did You Do It’ is also excitingly included, as is JJ Barnes uplifting take on How Long from 1977, ending the journey on a high which you sometimes might wonder where it has all disappeared to.

Release: August 24

The Contempo Story: 1973-1977, The Original Home Of Soul, Various Artists, 3CD BoxsetVarious Artists


New York Dolls – Personality Crisis: Live Recordings & Studio Demos 1972-1975 – Cherry Red Records

This isn’t about nostalgia. It’s history. The New York Dolls sleazy, excitable spirit of Rock n Roll is transmitted directly through time, right now, to your volume control. Play it loud, turn down the lights and swig at something to get you tuned in to their way of thinking. Glad to report that the trashy, breathy beauty of it all remains resolute, conveying precisely the same feeling emanating from the city that informed them then as now. The very one that was inspired by what went before and then helped shape the future, blasting the way forwards. Music works by causing a reaction and the Dolls cause all sorts of reactions – not all them pretty. However, this hugely wonderful boxset highlights their youthful zest for life grabbing and shaking it to the very foundations. It’s a collection of studio recordings starting in June 1972 that predate their debut and follow-up album for Mercury Records capturing a rawer, more real experience than perhaps those ever did. Add to that a number live performances from 1973 to 1975 and you’re all geared-up, ready to go. Accompanying it all are inspiring sleeve notes by David Wells which include some great photographs, while also detailing the New York Dolls roller-coaster ride of up’s and downs. An essential in every way.

Release: April 27



Strictly Rhythm Underground 90-97 – Strictly Rhythm/ e-Archive Records

If you are new to the music contained on this companion of the decade then I envy what you are about to experience – forget the agony, this is just ecstasy. Reading Bill Brewster’s sleeve notes for the compilation of releases between ’90 and ’97 who couldn’t escape that excitable feeling only Strictly Rhythm could generate. There was always a sense of trepidation with what you would get to hear next from the label and that translates crystal clear across the three discs of prime, reclaimed time. Founded by Mark Finkelstein and Gladys Pizarro transcendent music such as After Hours – Waterfalls would hit one minute while pulverising epics like Joint Venture’s Master Blaster exploded the next. Musical possibilities were expanded via the Latin tinged River Ocean – Love & Happiness featuring the beautiful voice of India, while The Believers seminal Who Dares to Believe In Me teased out Jazzier notes next. The tough, tribal beats of Armand Van Helden’s delicious Witch Doktor sounded like a new era all over again as did Wink’s now Acid standard, Higher State Of Consciousness. I guess it’s fair to say that the label had few, if any, equivalents at the time and very much came to define those sights and sounds from the 1990’s which can relive here at your own leisure. Is this essential? Of course it is.

Release: February 23



Mr M’s Northern Soul No 1. Oldies Room 1974-1981 – Soul Time

Discussing Northern Soul and all its implications was once described to me like opening a can of worms. Everyone had their own opinion, their own strongly held point of view. And for me having almost zero interest in much music that predated my own youth in the 1970’s it all sounded pretty much like a not so quiet storm in a teacup. Decades later when I came to interview Richard Searling and Colin Curtis about those very differing approaches to what was ‘old’ and what was then ‘new’, with the emergence of Disco and then Jazz-Funk. It did indeed feel like the clash of two era’s, which despite one laying the foundations for the other, evolved into two contrasting scenes via Wigan Casino and Blackpool Mecca. Personally, I always sided with the latter’s embrace of the new, although of course time has played out well in the formers collection of what are undoubtedly (for the most part) great songs about love and heartache. This compilation focuses on the Casino’s second room, Mr M’s and their defining, defiantly strictly ‘Oldies’ only playlist. Politics – plus questions about over-hyping nostalgia – aside when you listen to all three CD’s, look at the accompanying photographs (that word in itself feels delightfully dated), read the testimony curated from the sleeve-notes and then listen to one of the original DJ’s Dave Evison’s interview, it all breathes a nostalgic sigh of relief. Through the temptations of the music it is just possible to glimpse at the world the dancers experienced as they lived their lives through Saturday night/ Sunday morning. Words contained in songs which sang out to the converted essentially reached back to the origins of the Blues and the redemptive promise of the church, with its keep the faith inspired promise of better days ahead. The first song on the first CD is the highly charged ‘Hey Sah-Lo-Ney’ by Mickie Lee Lane from 1965. The final number from the collection is JJ Barnes wonderful cover of Ace ‘How Long’ from 1977. Preceding that is N.F Porter’s ‘Keep On Keeping On’ (1971). Little else needs saying at that point.

Release: December 8



TO THE OUTSIDE OF EVERYTHING: A Story Of UK Post Punk 1977-1981 – Cherry Red Records

The brilliantly titled: TO THE OUTSIDE OF EVERYTHING continues Cherry Red’s equally wonderful series of invaluable histories. This time round tackling, or rather defining Post Punk. The tempting question here is about whether it was really just Punk after all. The ‘Post’ bit a journalist tag line applied to sell the repackage while continuing our national obsession with labelling everything that moves – look at the subdivision (monetization) of Dance Music during the 90’s. Punk was an umbrella term covering a wide variety of causes, stance and styles and subsequently that D.I.Y attitude remained intact, as did that sense of independent, non-conforming spirit. Maybe even more intensified as a reaction after the blatant commercialisation of Punk itself. Although, of course, everything boils right down to the music. Which in this case is so blindingly excellent that it still sounds and feels highly-charged, excitement-personified dragging you back to when possibilities seemed endless. Evolving from the breath of what was essentially the sneer of high-energy Rock n Roll bands felt free to do things that contradicted the original medium – thank god. All that Sid Vicious stood for, was, in the end, vacuous and meaningless (cheap swastika included). But on a more positive note there are five CD’s here to truly indulge yourself. Starting with Ultravox is most fitting as the fiery music feels and smells very much like Punk, thrashy guitars and shouty attitude, but underneath the sound of something else is happening – people are thinking. Besides all that strumming you will also find the early-ish strains of electronic music in the UK from the likes of Throbbing Gristle and The Human League. And as time moved on so did the incorporation of distant influences allowing room for manoeuvre showcased by the diversity of Echo & The Bunnymen, Poison Girls, Joy Division, The The, plus The Associates. So as you can see it covers the full spectrum and beyond. Then there’s The Slits and proceeding onto the liquid funk (not a term) of New Asia, 23 Skidoo, and Biting Tongues on CD five while finally reaching the destination outlined by This Heat who end with Radio Prague. At a time when lots of things all seemed to happen at once, colliding headlong, maybe you can indeed learn from history taking on board such a wealth of ideas. And maybe if you take time to look below the surface then that is exactly what is still happening today.

PS. Neil Taylor provides 48 pages of sleeve notes. So expect to have your horizons expanded and informed further.

Release: December 1


Also included….





Soul On Fire – The Detroit Soul Story 1957-77 – Soul Time

Too hot to handle? At a total of 86 soul-soaring tracks this is almost too much to get a handle on. But that breathless feeling soon equates to inspiration plus good times galore. Detailing the electrifying era between 1957 to 1977 the story begins with the Rhythm &Blues/ Rock’n’Roll strains of The Falcons delirious ‘Sent Up’ and then proceeds to highlight the various soulful leanings, tempo’s and harmonies all employed by a dizzying array of groups from that period, initially pre-dating and then running along the same timeline as Talma Motown. Revealingly this plays as the other side to Detroit’s more readily familiar story to explore a stunning selection of music, which for those who like to study the development of such things, excitingly evolved while retaining that all essential element: Soul. Very much evident across the breadth of CD two ending suitably on the Just Brothers beautifully voiced, resolutely hopeful – Things Will Be Better Tomorrow, from 1967. The Wigan Casino ‘oldie’ Can’t Turn Around by Fork In The Road features on the third CD as the music proceeds to traverse those sights and sounds that came to typify the Northern Soul scene’s succinct, crisp story telling. While the third disc ends on the Edwin Starr penned and most joyous, Oh How Happy covered by Shades Of Blue. Soul On Fire secures an exemplary, trip down memory lane which at the very least provides a timely education in Detroit’s rich and most varied musical past. One that unquestionably helped lay the initial foundations of what eventually became today’s Dance Music – though you might not quite believe it!

Release: November 24



Manchester North of England – 7CD Various Artists Boxset – Cherry Red Records

As Buzzcocks once sang: Nostalgia. Dreams are afloat and you can dive headlong into this epic, expansive trip down memory lane. Beginning at the (almost) point of Punk Rock with Buzzcocks Spiral Scratch EP (still got mine) this selection co-hosted by the indispensable Manchester music archive MDMA gets seriously disorientating by the breadth of records on offer here across several CD’s. Indeed it might be a smart idea to explore the site as the sounds unfold to add a visual context. This brilliantly realised sequence – yes the time worn Factory legends are present (as always) – but this compilation impressively digs much deeper to reveal inclusions from people you’ve never heard of, evoking a riotous celebration of colour. As the title says its ‘Independent’ music from 1977 through to 1993 – not sure why it ends there, maybe there simply wasn’t room for an eighth! And all sorts of my personal favourites from the era are present from Magazine: The Light Pours Out Of Me, Joy Division: She’s Lost Control and so on. But also music from the next decade’s Dance and then House explosion with Quando Quango’s Love Tempo plus 52nd Street’s Cool As Ice and A Certain Ratio predating T-Coy: Carino and of course Gerald’s: Voodoo Ray. The list then delivers more typically ‘Indie’ sounds via James, Happy Mondays and the rest providing all sorts of reasons for you to investigate further. In ways you should just ignore this review and go look at the tracklist for yourself, as when is it not a delight to hear The Fall’s speedy Rowche Rumble or indeed music by the Durutti Column. When they said: Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be, they were dead right.

Release: July 28


Noise Reduction System: Formative European Electronica 1974 – 84 – Cherry Red Records

If the title alone isn’t enough to get readers of Magazine Sixty elevated in anticipation I don’t know what else might be. This brilliantly enjoyable romp through music that defined its own space outside of American R&B veers between the charming synthesized melodies of Party Talk by André De Koning right down to Front 242’s pulsating, caustic Principles. Expansive sleeve notes come from Dave Henderson who fills in all the necessary details but for now this 4 CD set is a must. Relish the challenging Godot Was Here by Human Flesh or the more unforgiving electricity generated by Diseño Corbusier – Flanco Dama. Either way this selection will both entertain and then toy with ideas of what is deemed acceptable, Art and perhaps another word beginning with A, proving that life and provocative music existed in forgotten, far-flung corners (until now). Besides which, Glue Head by the fantastic Yello is to found here.