A modest proposal: Considering the volume of music flowing from the brains of musicians everywhere at all times, how about one month out of each year we take a break to reflect by agreeing not to release any new music? In the summer, most acts are touring to make the real money anyway, so why not pause to catch up by highlighting records from the past, whether it be released earlier in the year, decade or century?
Not going to happen, but consider this: At the rate we're releasing now, if we don't start conserving our vital creative resources, music will be completely depleted of new melodies and beats by 2054. Alarmist? Yes. Below, tips on conservation for the proverbial throwback Thursday.
"DEVO, The Men Who Make the Music." Who buys DVDs anymore? The same people who buy compact discs? Two questions to ponder when contemplating "Devo: The Men Who Make The Music," an archival collection of films and performances that just came out. As described by MVD Music, "'The Men Who Make the Music' combines concert footage from Devo's 1978 tour with music videos and interstitials featuring a vague story about Devo's rocky relationship with 'Big Entertainment.'"
The DVD is one of a couple throwback projects from Devo. The other is a crowd-funded effort to release a recent recording of "Devo Hardcore Live," which the band's cofounder Gerald Casale describes in the Pledgemusic pitch as "the seminal, experimental songs we created in basements and garages in Akron Ohio between 1974 and 1977."
DJ Jesse Saunders, "30 Years of House Music" mix. Those searching for a primer on house music should race to explore this mix by DJ Jesse Saunders. Few know more about the EDM foundational music and its history, one that is celebrated on this 73-minute dance party. Released as a teaser to a forthcoming Good For You Records collection, Saunders' mix features old and new jams from Chicago and elsewhere. (via Resident Advisor)
Elvis Costello and the Attractions, "All This Useless Beauty" (LP reissue). One of the lesser-known classics from the songwriting expert, Elvis Costello's "All This Useless Beauty" has just been reissued on long-player. Released in 1996 at the nadir of vinyl's "demise," an original copy goes for about $100. It's worth that for the title track alone, which is one of Costello's great musical tragedies. The record also features Aimee Mann on "The Other End of the Telescope" and the Paul McCartney-penned gem "Shallow Grave." (You can hear the record in its entirety on all the major streaming services.) Available at Amazon.
"Blue August Moon" mix from Aquarium Drunkard. When it comes to throwback taste-makers, few are more reliable than Justin Gage and his Aquarium Drunkard site and SiriusXM radio show. Long known for its essential tips, writing and playlists, Drunkard has just unveiled its most recent mix, which is filled with typically gorgeous dusties. Among others, "Blue August Moon" features music by Gal Costa, Odetta, Brian Eno, Can, Miriam Makeba and Karlheinz Stockhausen.
The mix opens with a brief snippet of dialogue from Terrence Malick's "Days of Heaven," and is described in the accompanying blog post thusly: "Governed equally by the spiritual and the secular, by science and superstition, magic and economy: Mammane’s organ, Odetta’s baritone, Patsy’s guitar. Soul, Jazz, Country, Gospel, Ambience." All true. You can listen at Aquarium Drunkard.
"Prime Time: A Rap Fan's Guide to No I.D." mix. Looking to catch up on the hits of vital Chicago hip-hop producer No I.D., who's work has helped transform pop music over the last two decades? Look no further than Trackstar the DJ, whose just-released mixtape "Prime Time: A Rap Fan's Guide to No I.D." features a seamlessly constructed mess of beats by rappers including Common, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Pusha T, Nas, Ghostface Killah and Killer Mike.
Trackstar, who tours with Run the Jewels, the hip-hop team of Killer Mike and El-P, knows his way around mixing and matching, and runs through 50-plus tracks on "Prime Time." It's available for streaming and download via Nah Right. There is cussing, so be careful at work.
The Who's 50th anniversary. Were you at the Who's legendary 1973 Thanksgiving gigs at the Forum, or the one a few days earlier at the Cow Palace in Daly City? By any chance did you take photos, make recordings or sneak in your 16-mm camera?
If so, Pete Townshend wants to talk to you about a project he's working on. In honor of the band's 50th anniversary, he and Roger Daltrey are crowd-sourcing a project to collect artifacts from throughout the band's life for a reissue campaign. Those who contribute the most impressive finds will win favor with the band, and get various add-ons in conjunction with the band's upcoming set of anniversary concerts. Did you already find an artifact? Email the Who at email@example.com. Details here.
Also coming out is "The Who Hits 50," yet another gathering of the Who's monumental rock jams. It come out in the U.S. on Oct. 28.
On the horizon:
David Bowie's box set "Sound + Vision," released to great fanfare on Rykodisc during a late 1980s reissue campaign, is getting its own reissue. The collection will return on Sept. 23. (via Super Deluxe Edition).
George Harrison's son Dhani has teased "The Apple Years," a forthcoming seven-CD reissue series of the late Beatle's solo work on Apple. More info and teasers can be found here.
The Tuareg guitar rock band Tinariwen will revisit some of its early work when Modern Classics, a subsidiary of Light in the Attic Records, reissues two of the band's early records. To be released on Sept. 2, the band will press on vinyl 2001's "The Radio Tisdas Sessions" and Amassakoul, from 2004.
Also on Sept. 2, influential German rock band Can will reissue on vinyl all 14 of its albums stretching back to 1967's "Monster Movie." It will be the first time they've been in print in a decade, and will come out on the band's longtime home, Mute. More details there.
Follow Randall Roberts on Twitter: @liledit