Tis the Season to be Wrapping and Rapping: It’s the beginning of December guys. If you haven’t got your gifts sorted by now, you really need to get on that shit before delivery dates become an issue. It’ll be Christmas Eve before you know it, and the last thing you want is to be scrambling around trying to buy something passable at 7-11. If you’re at a loss for something cool to order, we can help. Read on.
Kudos to the good people at Rhino for the new deluxe box set of the Replacements’ debut album Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash. An LP and four CDs – that’s five discs of material that came out of that phenomenal early ‘80s Replacements period when the sound was gloriously raw and ragged, and very punky. That’s five versions of “Takin’ a Ride,” for example. It’s for fans only, but each disc offers fascinating insight into this most fascinating of bands. There’s also a book that features an enlightening interview and some great pics. It’s been lovingly assembled – there are hours of joy on there.
Seasons of Mist has four sets of the Christian Death albums that feature Valor Kand. So that means no Only Theatre of Pain, or the three albums recorded by founder Rozz Williams under the name in the mid ‘90s. But starting with 1984’s Catastrophe Ballet, right up to 2015’s The Root of All Evilution, we get some of the band’s darkest, dankest and more experimental work. It’s not very Christmasy, but it’s perfect for the winter months.
Madonna has some awesome clothes available from her Madame X tour/movie merch. We adore the “Disturb the Peace” hoodie in particular – suitably punky and determined. It’s cozy and warm (80% cotton, 20% polyester) and holds up well to machine washes. But more importantly, it looks great. Available from shop.madonna.com.
Black Sabbath has joined forces with DC Shoes for a series of awesome casual footwear, plus beanies, shirts, etc. The sneakers and house shoes look great, and are high quality. It’s all to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Master of Reality album. DC says, “50 years on from the genre-defining 1971 album, Master of Reality, DC is celebrating one of the most important heavy metal albums of all time. The Black Sabbath Collection pays homage to this anniversary and the inextricable link between the band and skateboarding.”
Aggronautix has done it again. Their Throbbleheads series has long produced some excellent punk rock collectible bobblehead toys. L.A. punk fans will love their new sculpt of the Circle Jerks’ “skank man” logo/mascot. The guy is mid-skank, his head nodding as he goes. It’s superb, and limited edition. In addition, they have a wonderful new HR (of Bad Brains) Throbblehead – the dude looking both serene and ready to go.
Black & White & Weird All Over: The Lost Photographs of “Weird Al” Yankovic ‘83-’86 is an odd and glorious collection of old photos of the enigmatic oddball, taken by his drummer and photographer Jon Schwartz. It’s a sweet and affectionate portrayal of an artist we often reduce to “goofball” – while it does showcase his silly side, the body of work is also very human and warm.
David Thomas, main man with Cleveland pioneering curveball punks Pere Ubu, has remixed two slabs of contrasting work by the band: 1998’s Pennsylvania and 2002’s St. Arkansas. The former is slightly lighter, the latter darker and that is reflected in the light blue/dark blue vinyl which helps make these reissues so damn pretty. But musically, Pere Ubu has always been a quirky, experimental and gloriously awkward beast. Thomas sounds like Black Francis’ bonkers brother, and long may that remain the case. These albums, through Fire Records, are well worth a listen for fans new and old, and those who have never heard the band but have always been Ubu-curious.
A&M/UMe Records have celebrated the 50th anniversary of Cat Stevens’ classic Teaser and the Firecat album with a monster box set. The 1971 album was Stevens’ fifth, and the follow-up to the flawless Tea for the Tillerman. The artist later known as Yusuf released an updated version of that album last year, called Tea for the Tillerman 2, but this box tops it. There’s so much to dig through, including an alternative version of the album and a live album on vinyl, four CDs including a remaster of the album plus a ton of demos and live material, a 7” single of “Moonshadow,” and a blu-ray with videos and more live footage. There’s also a hardback book featuring masses of photos, liner notes and more, and an illustration book. The whole thing is gorgeous and has been lovingly put together. And of course, it helps that the album was superb to begin with.
K-Pop girl group Blackpink has released a range of super-cute bags, just in time for the holidays. Stylish, elegant and very handy thanks to the many pockets and straps, the bags essentially come in black and pink (appropriately enough). A great gift for the exuberant pop fan in the family.
Similarly, the Bugatti Group has partnered with legendary rockers the Rolling Stones for a range of bags – luggage, wallets, crossbodies and more. The black bag that we received, which honestly is going to replace our ancient laptop bag, is ideal for multiple purposes. Multiple zippered sections, an adjustable strap and handles make it super-useful. In addition, the iconic Stones logo in rubber on the front tops it all off. Available at bfashionbags.com.
Understated design company Lucie Kaas has a line of simple and elegant figurines that kinda look like classier peg dolls (remember those?) but stand a lot taller at about 5.5 inches. They sent us the Aladdin Sane – wooden Bowie looking majestic in his gold suit, bright red hair and iconic lightning strike across his face. It’s an instantly recognizable rock & roll image, given the 3D treatment for your lounge. They also have Freddie Mercury, Elton John, Prince, the men of Run DMC, and more. Available at luciekaas.com.
Darren Johnson’s book Decades: The Sweet in the 1970s details, as the title suggests, that decade for the seminal English glitter rock band. Johnson points out early that the Sweet (as well as Slade, Mud, etc) didn’t get the same respect as other glam artists such as David Bowie and Roxy Music, and their songs were often dismissed as “forgettable” by critics. In fact, the Sweet’s ’70s output has proven itself unforgettable. The book carries us through their peak period, and incredible songs that include “Ballroom Blitz” and “Blockbuster.” Then it comes out the other side, when things didn’t go quite so well. In retrospect though, it’s great to see the Sweet getting the attention that they deserve.
Full disclosure – this writer’s first big concert experience was Australian pop princess Kylie Minogue at the NEC arena in Birmingham, England, in 1990. Here we are nearly 32 years later, and she’s just released a deluxe “Guest List Edition” of last year’s Disco album. It was already a great record — songs such as “Magic” and “Real Groove” are classic Minogue disco-pop (as the title would suggest) — infectious, unforgettable, radio-friendly club anthems. This version comes with two more CDs, plus a DVD and bluray, jam-packed with new tracks and material from the Infinite Disco livestream. Additionally the vinyl version — three discs gorgeously packaged in gatefold and a clear sleeve — is stunning. That means songs recorded with the great Gloria Gaynor, Basement Jaxx, Dua Lipa, Jessie Ware and more. We even get a brief snippet of her first single “I Should Be So Lucky” for a touch of nostalgia. Those of us who remember watching Minogue on Aussie soap Neighbors, then making the transition to hit-making ’80s pop star, will be delighted that she’s still putting out wonderful work, and that she continues to earn respect with every step of her career. This beautifully packaged special edition of her latest opus will make a great gift for fans new and old alike.
Z2 Comics sent us three wonderful graphic novels — all hardcover and in a rigid sleeve. I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll/Bad Reputation is a collection of stories inspired by each of the songs on the Joan Jett & the Blackhearts album. It’s a fun read, a reminder of Jett’s influence, and it’s beautifully illustrated. It’s packaged with some prints from the book, and we also received a Joan Jett coin with it. Jett is practically royal, after all.
Elvis: The Graphic Novel tells the story of the early part of Presley’s career — the making of the King, if you will. Again, the illustrations are perfect, the story is compelling, and it’s been lovingly packaged. There’s a soundtrack of sorts — a stunning vinyl picture disc of Elvis tunes adorned with a pic from the graphic novel. Like the Jett book, it comes with some prints to frame and hang at your pleasure.
Speaking of kings, King Diamond’s 1987 concept album Abigail has been given the graphic novel treatment too. If there was any confusion about the haunting tale, it’s brought to life here. Kudos to Z2 yet again for stunning packaging, prints, and the corresponding picture vinyl from Metal Blade. Abigail was already a great album from the Danish metal titan — the book adds fresh perspective.