For some reason, I associate San Francisco songster Barbara Manning with Cardiff art pop minimalists Young Marble Giants. It might have something to do with the similarly cool detachment of Giants vocalist Alison Statton or the fact that Giants guitarist Stuart Moxham produced Manning's superb covers set, Barbara Manning Sings With The Original Artists.
Whatever the reason, it's worth celebrating the fact that the classic out-of-print early recordings of both Manning and the Young Marble Giants have coincidentally just been reissued as three-CD sets by different labels.
Rainfall Records is behind the Super Scissors box that packages Manning's brilliant 1988 debut, Lately I Keep Scissors, with her swell 1991 follow-up, One Perfect Green Blanket, and adds a disc of previously unheard demos and outtakes, while Domino's Colossal Youth: Expanded Edition similarly bundles up the Young Marble Giants' influential 1980 debut album (revered by Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love alike) with lo-fi demos, single and EP tracks and a John Peel Session. You'll find both dot-connecting sets equally rewarding. www.barbaramanning.com, www.youngmarblegiants.com.
Part of what makes Barbara Manning so special, which you won't get from the Super Scissors box, is her knack for finding amazing overlooked songs to interpret and making them her own, which she does with the Monks' I Can't Get Over You.
But that's just one of the many nutty-marvellous covers you'll find on the 29-track salute Silver Monk Time: A Tribute To The Monks (Play Loud!).
Instead of the same few artists who always show up on these things, this snazzy double-disc homage, assembled by Germany's Play Loud! Productions to help pay for their award-winning Monks documentary film The Transatlantic Feedback, includes intriguing contributions from artists who were genuinely inspired by the robed avant-rockin' GIs, namely the Fall, Alec Empire, the Gossip, Faust, Jon Spencer, Mouse on Mars, Psychic TV, the Raincoats, the 18.104.22.168's and, with neither Elvis Costello nor a single member of Sonic Youth in sight.
A higgledy-piggledy amen to that! www.playloud.org.
Because South By Southwest 2007 organizers scheduled showcases for the Stooges, Turbonegro and the Beasts of Bourbon at roughly the same time, fans of confrontational ignoroid rock were faced with a sort of Sophie's Choice of numbskull reunions.
After seeing an unhinged Tex Perkins lead his thuggish Aussie aces Charlie Owen, Spencer Jones, Brian Hooper and Tony Pola on a savage tear through the songs from Beasts' new Little Animals (Albert Productions) album, I wasn't the slightest bit concerned that I might've missed something better, but the absence of record company suits was dismaying.
The sweat-soaked Perkins seemed doubtful that there would be a North American release for Little Animals, which they'd rough-cut in three wired nights and left sounding viciously raw. And four months after the Australian issue, it's looking no more likely.
It might be time to grab an import copy of that snakeskin-style-slipcase CD or the gatefold 180-gram vinyl version released in a limited edtion of 1,000 copies. www.myspace.com/beastsofbourbon.