An impressive batch of reissue, archival and otherwise historic releases has characterized 2021. Even with so many choices, I was able to narrow my own Musoscribe’s Best of 2021 down to five selections. All are recommended in the most enthusiastic terms. In no particular order, here they are:
The Rubinoos – The CBS Tapes
These longtime pop favorites remain vital and active in 2021; one of their current (and I believe as-yet-unreleased) projects is a vocal re-imagining of The Mothers’ We’re Only in it for the Money. Meanwhile, tapes from their early days show a bratty, punk-leaning approach that is as delightful as it is surprising. I interviewed the group around the time of the release of The CBS Tapes.
Snowglobe — Our Land Brains
The superb Black & Wyatt label out of Memphis has been doing remarkable work both in reissues and new releases. Snowglobe is a Memphis band with connections (both geographical and sonic) to that whole Athens, Georgia-based Elephant 6 thing. From my perspective, that’s a good thing. I reviewed the album in April.
Pink Floyd – A Momentary Lapse of Reason (remixed)
Favorites of mine (hey, I wrote a book about the band), I still readily concede that the original release of A Momentary Lapse of Reason is a bit too “eighties,” with dated drum sounds, sterile keyboard and a too-slick sheen. Now those elements have been stripped away, replaced by new (real) drum parts by Nick Mason, and keyboard tracks taken from multi-track tapes of Richard Wright on the subsequent tour in support of the album. It’s a marked improvement, one that justifies the entire revisionist approach.
Wilco – Summerteeth (expanded)
Somehow, Summerteeth escaped my notice on initial release; perhaps I expected Wilco to be twangier than is my taste. Alas, it’s full of Mellotrons and other wonderful textures, all applied to superb songwriting and arrangement. A late discovery coincided with the expanded anniversary release, and an interview with the band’s John Stirratt.
Little Richard — The Rill Thing
It’s accepted fact that Little Richard did his best work in the 1950s; subsequent re-recordings of his hits for other labels fall far short of the excitement found within the originals. And though he left the business several times, he always came back. One of those returns yielded a very good album. Released in 1970, The Rill Thing is a worthy successor to Richard’s prime-era material. I reviewed the album in January.