Some of the noteworthy reissues this week include:
The Seeds: Travel with Your Mind (Brentwood, April 26, 2005) ***
Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five: The Message (DBK Works, April 26, 2005) *****
Jefferson Airplane: The Essential (RCA, April 26, 2005)*****
Big Star: Extended Versions (Collectibles, April 26, 2005) *
The Seeds: Travel With Your Mind
This re-issue of a 1995 GNP release scrapes the bottom of the collector's barrel and rounds up a variety of leftover non-album B-sides, demos, rehersals, alternate mixes and the like. The Seeds were a punky Los Angeles garage band led by the flamboyant Sky Saxon in the mid-60's, best known for three songs, "Pushin' Too Hard", "Can't Seem To Make You Mine", and "Mr. Farmer", the first of which being their only real hit. Their sound was fuzzy and snarly, with songs often built around very repetitive organ riffs. If you're a Seeds maniac (there are a few), this provides some of the hard to find titles of legend. If you're a garage band fanatic, this'll provide enjoyment, but your mind will start to wander. You're better off with the original 1966 LP's The Seeds and A Web of Sound instead (now available as a two-fer). If you're neither, you really don't need this; get a copy of Nuggets first.
Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five: The Message
This 1982 album, by New York City's Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five had an enormous effect on the urban/rap world when it hit the streets; "The Message" was a revolutionary track in rap on par with Dylan's early effect on rock. It is an edgy, frank assessment of life in the ghetto at the dawn of the 80's, and one of the first to deal with topical material; the earlier rap pioneers like the Sugarhill Gang and Kurtis Blow made what were mainly party records. Its tagline "Don't push me 'cause I'm close to the edge" became an inner-urban mantra. The production was freaky in its day, too, a mix of dub, scratch, electronic, soul, and R&B. It charted at #4 on the black singles chart, and #62 on the pop charts, at that time the highest ever for a rap song. The rest of the album is more in an old school soul/r&b vein, but it's good.