There’s always been something a bit special about Spandau Ballet: even though they may have had a look and a sound that helped cement them as ‘80s artists, a surprising amount of their music had a timelessness to it that’s helped them remain in the memories of listeners long after many of their peers have faded away…and there’s no point in denying it, because you know this much is true.
After blowing away fans, critics, and casual observers during their SXSW appearance, which was their first American performance in almost three decades, and catching the eye of film festival attendees with their new documentary, Soul Boys of the Western World, more than a few journalists have dared to write the words, “Spandau Ballet is back!” For once, it’s not hyperbole: while the band’s new compilation, The Story - The Very Best of Spandau Ballet, is certainly not their first greatest-hits collection, it has three things that none of its predecessors possessed: “This Is the Love,” “Steal,” and “Soul Boy,” a trio of newly-recorded songs by the band, produced by Trevor Horn, the man who twiddled the knobs for “Instinction” way back when.
If you consider yourself a bass player and you don’t hold Jaco Pastorius in the highest esteem, then we can only presume you’ve never really listened to the man, because he’s one of those guys whose work with the instrument was so unique and groundbreaking that it’s hard to hear it without wanting to drop to your knees and begin recitation of the phrase, “I’m not worthy!”
Since we doubt if you thought for a moment that we’d suddenly started talking about him by coincidence, it probably won’t come as any sort of surprise to you that, yes, we’ve got a brand new anthology which provides both new and old fans with the opportunity to explore Pastorius’s work during his tenure with Warner Brothers Records.
On October 5, 1993, the band Afghan Whigs, who’d self-released their debut album, 1988’s Big Top Halloween, and then came of age with a pair of albums on Sub Pop Records (1990’s Up in It and 1992’s Congregation), finally made the jump to the big leagues – and a major label – with the release of Gentlemen on Elektra Records. Most bands would’ve used the 20th anniversary of an album as an opportunity to celebrate its legacy, but not Afghan Whigs: they waited a year, hence the October 28 release of Gentlemen at 21, an expanded reissue of Gentlemen which will feature the original album as you remember it on Disc One, along with a second disc filled with demos, B-sides, and live performances.
Greg Dulli, Afghan Whigs’ frontman, kindly agreed to hop on the phone and chat about the original album, although he gave fair warning that his contributions to the reissue were somewhat minimal. “I just nodded, said, ‘Yes,’ ‘Cool,’ or, ‘I wouldn’t do that,’” admitted Dulli, laughing. “That was the extent of my involvement.” Having said that, however, Dulli was quite happy to wrack his brain and reminisce about how they came to Elektra, the process of putting together their major label debut, the opportunity to record in one of the most famous studios in rock ‘n’ roll history, the clause in the band’s contract that could’ve made a filmmaker out of him, and whose contract he copied to get that particular deal.
Rhino: Gentlemen was your debut album for Elektra. What was the band’s path from Sub Pop to the label? Did Elektra pursue the band, or did the band start looking for a major-label deal on their own?
When O.G. Original Gangster celebrated its anniversary back in May, we kidded about how some folks out there only know Ice-T for his work as a thespian, but it’s definitely one of those jokes that’s funny because it’s kind of true: although old school rap aficionados remember the impact his music made when he first started dropping records in the mid-1980s, his material isn’t exactly the sort of thing you hear in regular rotation on your local radio station, so it’s actually all too easy to imagine a Law & Order: Special Victims fan who’s never heard a single Ice-T song.
Fortunately, we may have the gateway drug into Ice-T’s career than you’ve been looking for: a 15-track greatest-hits collection which proves a solid introduction to his back catalog by way of material taken predominantly from his first four albums…which, if you need a quick musical history lesson, are Rhyme Pays (1987), Power (1988), The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech...Just Watch What You Say (1989), and the aforementioned O. G. Original Gangster (1991).
Late last year, we released a box set featuring Ry Cooder’s studio albums from 1970 through 1987, but those of you who know his catalog inside and out no doubt noticed the omission of his soundtrack work, which – not counting his handful of contributions to Nicolas Roeg’s Performance in 1970 – kicked off with The Long Riders in 1980. If you’re one of those individuals, you’ll be pleased to discover that, as of today, there’s now a companion piece to 1970 – 1987: the appropriately-named Soundtracks.
First, the bad news: although it starts with The Long Riders and continues chronologically through 1993’s Trespass, it’s not completely all inclusive of Cooder’s soundtrack work through those years.