This Month's Vinyl Picks: February 2018
Justin Timberlake, Simple Minds and Field Music are amongst the best vinyl releases coming your way in February...
Justin Timberlake: Man of the Woods
In the five years that have elapsed since the release of his 2013 two-parter The 20/20 Experience, most of Justin Timberlake's creative outings have taken place on the big screen rather than in the recording studio, with the singer continuing to expand his acting credentials with roles in the Coen brothers' Inside Llewelyn Davies and Woody Allen's Wonder Wheel, but after a series of images posted last year showing himself and others in the studio, Timberlake returns in February with his fifth studio album, Man of the Woods.
Announced in October alongside news of his scheduled halftime show performance at Super Bowl LII, the new album sees Timberlake reunite with producers Timbaland, Danja and The Neptunes, as well as others like Eric Hudson and Rob Knox. Opening with new single 'Filthy', the album contains 16 new tracks inspired, Timberlake says, by where he grew up: "It sounds more like where I've come from than any other music I've ever made... It's Southern American music. But I want to make it sound modern – at least that's the idea right now." The album arrives on all formats, including a 2LP vinyl edition, on February 2nd.
Simple Minds: Walk Between Worlds
BMG Rights Management
One of Scotland's most enduring bands, Simple Minds celebrated their 40th anniversary in 2017 and while the line-up has undergone numerous changes over the last four decades, frontman Jim Kerr and guitarist Charlie Burchill remain an ever-present fixture as they gear up to release their latest studio album - their 19th in total (depending on whether you consider Sons and Fascination and Sister Feelings Call a double LP or not).
Walk Between Worlds is the band's first album of new material in four years and contains eight new tracks (although the deluxe version gets you an extra three), including new singles 'Magic' and 'The Signal and The Noise'. The standard version is available on black vinyl, but if you want the deluxe 11-track version on vinyl then there's a limited edition version, which comes in the form of a 2LP edition pressed onto 'fuschia'-coloured etched vinyl.
Field Music: Open Here
The last time David and Peter Brewis released an album it quickly became one of our favourites of 2016 and even earned the Sunderland-born pair a tweet of approval from Prince, who took a shine to one of Commontime's singles, 'Disappointed'. This month Field Music return with the follow-up and their seventh album overall. Open Here arrives on all formats on February 2nd and contains 11 brand new songs including 'Time In Joy', 'Count It Up' and 'Share A Pillow', all of which exhibit the kind of prog-pop goodness that made us fall in love with their last album. The LP is a standard black vinyl edition, but one we'd highly recommend adding to your collection.
Rae Morris: Someone Out There
When Rae Morris first began to emerge on the scene around 2014, the Blackpool-born singer songwriter quickly found herself on the BBC's Sound of 2015 list and began earning favourable comparisons to the likes of Kate Bush and PJ Harvey. Her 2015 debut album Unguarded also earned the singer-songwriter plenty of fans and this month she returns with its follow-up.
Someone Out There arrives on February 2nd on all formats, including an LP on black vinyl, and includes her new singles 'Do It', 'Atletico (The Only One)' and 'Push Me To My Limit'. The new album is produced mostly by Fryars, with whom Morris worked on 2014 track 'Cold', adding a more dancefloor-orientated feel to the new album than its predecessor.
Fever Ray: Plunge
Karin Dreijer is probably best-known to most as one half of the now-defunct experimental electronic duo The Knife, but if you're a fan of The History Channel's long-running drama series Vikings then you'll probably be familiar with at least one of the songs from her solo debut, released under the alias Fever Ray (the album's opener 'If I Had A Heart' serves as the show's theme tune). The Knife called it a day after their 2013 album Shaking the Habitual, and both Karin and her brother Olof have remained largely off the radar ever since.
However, late last year The Knife suddenly changed the profile picture on their social media accounts, prompting rumours they were about to release new music. As it turned out, that music came in the form of a live album from their farewell tour, but it was followed a month later by a surprise follow-up to Fever Ray's eponymous debut. Generally more upbeat than its brooding, claustrophobic predecessor, Plunge features 11 new tracks and is set to arrive on vinyl for the first time on February 2nd.
David Bowie: Low (2017 Remaster)
Attentive Bowie fans will no doubt be aware that September last year saw the arrival of an impressive new box set covering the years between 1977 and 1982. Named A New Career in a New Town, the box set is an impressive collection that includes coloured vinyl, a hardback book and newly remastered versions of Bowie's 'Berlin Trilogy', live album Stage and his 1982 album Scary Monsters. But what if you wanted just one or two of the new remasters without the rest?
Well, there's good news: this month the 2017 remasters are set to be released individually, with Low, Heroes, Lodger and Scary Monsters all set to arrive in stores on February 23rd. You can also buy all four as a bundle if you're after just the albums without all the other collectibles, which you can find here. If you opt for the bundle, you'll also get a limited edition Bowie slip mat for your turntable too!
Dr. Dre: The Chronic
Death Row Records
For hip-hop fans, Dre is a man who needs no introduction. As the creative force behind N.W.A. and mentor to rappers such as Eminem, Dre's impact on the genre has been immense and this month sees one of his finest albums being reissued on vinyl for the first time in more than 15 years.
His first solo album after the dissolution of N.W.A., The Chronic was first released in 1992 and is widely regarded as being the genesis of the 'G-Funk' sound that would go on to dominate much of the decade. With appearances from Snoop Dogg, Warren G, and Nate Dogg, the all-star line-up on The Chronic helped make it one of the most vital rap albums of the 90s. Not to be missed.
Roxy Music: Roxy Music
Virgin EMI Records
One of the most unique bands to emerge in the early 1970s, Roxy Music were unlike anything that came before them and, arguably, anything since. Featuring Bryan Ferry on lead vocals and a young Brian Eno teasing odd soundscapes out of a synthesizer long before they became fashionable, their eponymous 1972 debut marked them out as something totally different; a precursor to art rock and glam that was somehow both of these and neither at the same time.
The album reached its 45th anniversary last year and to celebrate the band are reissuing the album as both a standalone vinyl version and a four-disc CD box set which includes various outtakes, demos and alternate versions of the album's original nine tracks, but if you just want to hear the album as it was originally released then head straight for the vinyl version, which arrives in stores on February 2nd.
Curtis Mayfield: Superfly
First released in 1972 as the soundtrack to Gordon Parks Jr's cult blaxploitation film of the same name, Superfly was Curtis Mayfield's fourth solo album after leaving The Impressions and remains, arguably, one of his finest. Featuring hits such as 'Freddie's Dead' and 'Pusherman', Superfly would become one of the most influential albums of the 1970s and the only one of his solo albums to top the Billboard charts in the U.S.
This month sees the album getting an expanded vinyl reissue as a 2LP set featuring the original soundtrack, as well as a bonus disc featuring alternate takes, an instrumental "studio jam", radio spots and an interview with Mayfield himself. Released by reissue specialists Charly, the album is set to arrive in stores on February 2nd.
Average White Band: Pick of the Pieces
Dundee might not be the first place you'd expect to find a band responsible for some of the biggest funk and soul tunes of the 1970s, but the Scottish city happens to be the hometown of Average White Band, who not only topped the Billboard charts with their Grammy-nominated hit 'Pick Up The Pieces' but are also one of the most-sampled groups in history, their songs having been borrowed and reworked by numerous hip-hop artists including The Beastie Boys, Eric B. & Rakim and Arrested Development. (Fun fact: James Brown's backing band, The JB's, were so impressed by 'Pick Up The Pieces' that they recorded their own response to the song, titled 'Pick Up The Pieces One By One', and released it under the name A.A.B.B. - Above Average Black Band).
This month sees the release of a career retrospective box set that includes vinyl reissues of five of their finest albums: AWB, Cut The Cake, Soul Searching, Feel No Fret and Shine. All five are pressed onto 180g white vinyl and housed in a limited edition, numbered box that also includes a print signed by the band's classic line-up of Alan Gorrie, Hamish Stuart, Molly Duncan, Onnie McIntyre, Roger Ball and Steve Ferrone. Only 500 copies are being produced so pre-order now to make sure you get your hands on one.