Hundred Word Reviews, February 2023, Part Four

In the last few days I’ve covered new releases; now it’s time for quick looks at five reissue/archival releases of note.

APB – Something to Believe In
I will admit that until very recently, I had never heard of – much less heard – APB. The Scottish band released its sole album, Something to Believe In, in 1979. It has been out of print for some time and only recently received reissue treatment from Liberation Hall. That it wasn’t a massive hit shall remain one of life’s little mysteries. The group had it all: a kinetic sound that drew from punk, dance and funk; songs that were compact, direct and memorable, and a good look. But it wasn’t to be. Listen now and enjoy, and wonder what might’ve been.

Janis Joplin and Jorma Kaukonen – The Legendary Typewriter Tape
This recording is indeed legendary; it circulated among collector for many year. Even I – -no major Janis Joplin fan at the time – had a cassette dub of it a quarter century ago. In 1964, neither Janis nor Jefferson Airplane’s Jorma Kaukonene were anything like household names. Don’t go in expecting the supercharged blooze of Big Brother, nor the high-flying psychedelia of the Airplane; this is folk, pure and simple. Folk, and of course… a typewriter. If you’re wondering why, the liner notes – a brief paragraph or three from Kaukonen – won’t shed a bit of light. Odd, that. Try Wikipedia.

Current Rage – Seven Songs (40th Anniversary Edition)
Hey, I remember these guys! Way back in the early 1980s, the fairly small but vibrant local music scene of Atlanta and nearby Athens was filled with fascinating bands. You might have heard of some of ‘em; R.E.M., Guadalcanal Diary, B-52’s, Pylon, LMNOP, The Producers. And Current Rage: if oyu liked those other names, you’ll dig this. Today they’re considered post-punk; I don’t recall the term in use back in the day. But now, some four decades later, this EP has been valiantly rescued from the past, and appended with a bunch of bonus tunes. It will take you back.

Ex Norwegian – On the Sidelines: The Albums 2015-2017
What I wrote above notwithstanding, be careful placing trust in Wikipedia. Somebody needs to update Ex Norwegian’s bio, as it mentions nothing after 2014. But this fine (if overlooked) arty powerpop band led by Roger Houdaille released several albums post ‘14. These are the first three of those. They feature the now-ubiquitous and immensely talented Fernando Perdomo in (I think) the years before he relocated out west. The three albums are remastered, remixed and appended with a total of 14 bonus tracks. If you like Jellyfish, some of that band’s wonderful qualities can be found here as well. Worth hearing.

Neuschwanstein + Sonja Kristina – Alice in Wonderland
This is a strange one. German band Neuschwanstein (named after the Bavarian castle that inspired Walt Disney) recorded an instrumental album called Alice in Wonderland in 1976. It’s an exemplar of that era’s instrumental symphonic prog subgenre, and while it sank without a trace, it deserved better. So here we are decades later, and someone decided that having Curved Air’s Sonja Kristina overdub narration would be a great idea. She’s a fine artist, but hey: no. Not needed. It’s still good, so we should be thankful that the album is available at all, but it would’ve been better left as-was.