Musoscribe’s Best 12 of 2012, Part Two

Yesterday I covered six of the best and most notable (but under-the-radar) releases of 2012. Here are six more.

World Party – Arkeology
Karl Wallinger was one of those artists we feared “lost in action.” He suffered an aneurysm a few years back, and that meant (among other more serious things) that there was no World Party music for quite some time. But this lavish box set brings together old and new(ish) music that shows Karl is still at or near the top of his game.

Various Artists – Red Bird Girls
Phil Spector wasn’t the only auteur creating great female vocal pop in the early 60s. And while the approach might’ve been merely to create disposable, short shelf life pop, the music on this set (of the sort that hasn’t been played to death, I should add) is timeless fun.

Todd Rundgren’s Utopia – Live at Hammersmith Odeon ’75
This set has long circulated among collectors as a bootleg, but it’s nice to see (and hear) it get an official release. This is early-ish Utopia in the period during which they were changing their approach from a Mahavishnu Orchestra-style prog group to a powerpop one. This recording captures the best of both those worlds, live and onstage.

Bill Evans – Live at Art D’Lugoff’s Top of the Gate
There are many Bill Evans Trio recordings out there, but this previously-unrleased archival recording captures the jazz trio sharing the room with a noisy (and sometimes disinterested) audience at a Greenwich Village restaurant. It’s the “second trio” here, and the performances are simply sublime.

Various Artists – Surf Age Nuggets
Picking up where Rhino seems to have given up, Rock Beat has put together and amazing box set (a book set, if we’re being literal) of great instro-surf you’ve never heard. Interestingly, it beats the hell out of a pair of new Dick Dale reissue/comps from the same label. Sometimes – like here – the unheralded stuff beats the better-known material.

The dB’s – Falling Off the Sky
One of those bands whose influence has outpaced their commercial impact, The dB’s roared back after a lengthy quiet period. The result is what I believe to be their finest album ever. I know it’s a pejorative term for some, but the songs on Falling Off the Sky are mature. Tied, in fact, with The Explorers Club‘s Grand Hotel for my choice of the best album of 2012.

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