REISSUE OF THE MONTH
1. Various Artists
Fac. Dance 02: Factory Records 12" Mixes & Rarities 1980-1987
Picking up where last year's Fac Dance left off, this sequel cuts even deeper into the dusk-disco heart of the Factory Records bands that never got to be the Happy Mondays. The early stuff here plays like some Zé catalog all-stars choking on a thick Manchester fog and bloodying their knuckles on greasy industrial gears. A Certain Ratio, Minny Pops, Biting Tongues, Duritti Column, and an especially gnashing stomper from Section 25 that could spawn a half dozen Sacred Bones bands — its all lush grooves, doom-dub and ghost moans where the "ooh-ooh" should rightfully be. As the '80s progress, drum machines ultimately become weapons of choice (a 1984 single from Shark Vegas is like a 1.0 operating system for Trent's pretty hate machine). It plays like an alternate new wave timeline where a generation's "Hungry Like the Wolf" was Paul Hardcastle's "19." CHRISTOPHER R. WEINGARTEN
2. The Moving Sidewalks
The Complete Collection
Four 11th-grade hipster-punks from Houston, Texas' 1967 "teen scene," the Moving Sidewalks backed-up their acidic scowls with artfully fuzzy swagger. The type of dudes who'd crash your house party, plug in, set fire to everybody's hair, then subtly search and destroy your girlfriend before sunup. The unfadeable "99th Floor" — A-side of their since-mythologized debut 45 (which was included on the second Pebbles compilation) — shrugs off an exquisitely sneering guitar solo before plunging into a black-hole of harmonica bwaaahhh. On their 1968 debut full-length Flash, the sneer turns more soulful, driving wound-tight groove-blasts like "Need Me" (dig that comic sproing of crowd-noise!) and "Flashback" (keyboard flurries, whipcrack drumming), in addition to fueling existential ballads like "You Don't Know the Life." Despite high-profile supporters (most notably, Jimi Hendrix), the band's success remained regional, and when keyboardist Tom Moore and bassist Don Summers were drafted into the army in 1969, the Sidewalks disbanded. Frontman Bill Gibbons quickly regrouped, forming "that little ol' band from Texas" ZZ Top. But this revelatory two-CD set finally gives the Sidewalks their proper due, tossing in unreleased tracks, material from Gibbons' 10th-grade band the Coachmen, plus a 56-page book. CHARLES AARON
Only Built 4 Cuban Linx (Deluxe "Purple Tape" Cassette Boxset)
Get on Down
A snowblind masterpiece of syllable-stacking and brick-laying, 1995's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx is finally available the way that hip-hop tastemakers remember it: a warbling, hissing spool whirring in a purple shell. The museum display case is a nice touch, but more importantly, as connoisseurs will tell you, the cassette format allows for more pure bass tones — we can't remember "Incarcerated Scarfaces" or "Glaciers of Ice" sounding so knocking (conversely, on tracks like "Rainy Dayz" the cassette makes RZA's murk sound swampier and mushier and more austere). A gorgeous tribute to the most important cassette tape produced in the CD era. The original "Purple Swag." C.W.
4. William Basinski
The Disintegration Loops Box
The New York ambient composer's innovation of pressing "record" as the iron oxide crumbled and flaked from ancient tape loops has spawned one 74-minute meditation for the World Trade Center, three sequels, and two orchestra interpretations. Collected, it's nearly six hours of music, collected on 18 sides of vinyl, finally getting its due on a format that actually degrades with multiple plays. The original Disintegration Loops is still as ethereal as music gets, the sound of death and decay, of negative space slowly and meticulously eating holes through a memory. The subsequent pieces don't exactly disintegrate in returns either, some closer to degrading VHS chillwave ("dlp 4") and others nearly ghosts from jump ("dlp 6"). C.W.
5. Various Artists
Loving on the Flipside: Sweet Funk and Beat-Heavy Ballads 1969-1977
The conceit here is that Now-Again founder Eothen "Egon" Alapatt and his record-nerd pals were so headstrong about collecting aggro, "testoserone-riddled" funk sides that they overlooked the "sweet funk" ballads on the flip. Now, eased back by age, life, and a dwindling number of 45 curios left to discover, Egon embraces the raw, affecting, open-hearted sentiment that was often these groups' preferred mode. The range here is impressive — from the thrilling, unbridled howl of Eddie Finley & the Cincinnati Show Band's "Treat Me Right or Leave Me Alone" to the masterfully rendered adult regret of Hot Chocolate's "We Had True Love" to the powerfully nuanced, feminist seduction of "At the Hotel" to the free-form collaboration between Rochester psych-soul ensemble Funky Heavy and youthful female vocal group Darling Dears. C.A.