The Clash, London Calling: Legacy Edition(Epic/Legacy) Unlike Elvis Costello-whose reissues overflowwith killer non-album tracks-the Clash mostly gave youeverything they had on their LPs, though some of it was a littlehalf-baked (see Sandinista!). On this rerun, you get “TheVanilla Tapes” as a bonus: 21 rough album demos that, asidefrom the honky-tonkin’ “Lonesome Me” and a coverof Bob Dylan’s “The Man in Me,” sound like, well,rough album demos. Watch the accompanying DVD and see dirtballproducer Guy Stevens smashing chairs to rev up the boys. Hey, itworked.
Talking Heads, The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads (Sire/Rhino) In the studio, they wanted to unnerve you. Onstage, they wanted to make you shake it like a high-strung white girl. Finally available on CD after 20-plus years, this classic live comp gets nicely pumped up with 16 extra songs. Disc one features the Heads’ wiry late-’70s lineup, all adenoidal clucking and scratch’n’scribble guitars. Disc two is the ’80s big-band geek-funk mothership. The package is less eye-catching than last year’s art-book retrospective, but it’ll come off the shelf more often.
Albert Ayler, Holy Ghost (Revenant)From a bunch of fanatics known for reinventing box sets as objets d’art (see Screamin’ and Hollerin’ the Blues: The Worlds of Charley Patton) comes a heap of unreleased recordings by the blistering free-jazz saxophonist-and occasional bagpiper-who helped inspire John Coltrane to search for God in a horn shriek. Eight discs of music and two of interviews, a cloth-bound book, some weird old zines, and a dried flower, all stacked in a plastic replica of a carved-wood spirit box. Ayler’s unhinged sound was shocking in the ’60s, and it still is-often weirdly beautiful, always deeply human. Sure to be at the top of Thurston Moore’s birthday wish list.
The Conet Project, Recordings of Shortwave Numbers Stations (Irdial) The deadpan alphanumeric recitations on this creepy four-CD set from 1997 are presumed to be code broadcasts by CIA operatives and their international kin. This much is certain: The incantation “Yankee…hotel…foxtrot…” (disc one, track four) provided Wilco with a title and a sound sample-uncleared-for their very successful 2002 album. When Irdial sued the band for copyright infringement, Wilco ponied up, effectively subsidizing this reissue. Party trick: Play it really loud and watch how quickly the FBI comes!