Compilation Review: Reverse Play: C86 Re(dis)covered by Various Artists (fadeawayradiate records)

Amsterdam based Estella Rosa, the owner of the fadeawayradiate blog and vocalist for Nah! is one of those people whose musical knowledge is all consuming. If “I” had her musical knowledge I would be inclined to run around the most densely populated cities of the world, dressed in nothing more than a green flashing cod-piece, screaming ‘ooooooh look at me I know lots about music’, whilst only briefly pausing outside various vinyl shops to deliver derisory snorts to customers who purchases were not cool.

Strangely enough, ‘Stella’ chooses a more succinct manner of expressing her knowledge to the world that involves running several jangle / twee / dream-pop / sophist-pop Facebook groups, a superb blog and a label that tends to release various artists covers compilations (the last one being the smooth Oct 2017 release, I Remember That!: 12 Sophistipop Tunes Quoted Out of Context’) which she lets people enjoy on Bandcamp on either a free or name your price basis. For Stella it is plainly about the music and always will be (all details of her media presence are in the links at the end of this review) rather than my inglorious more cod piece related machinations / imaginations.

As such, when Stella gets bands to do covers for a fadeaway release you simply know that a lot of thought, knowledge and energy has gone into the decision and that the end product highly likely to be the sort of ‘good’ that can only be described as brilliant…and thus it is so.

There really are no weak tracks on this album, so let me concentrate on my favourites which fall into two neat categories that are perhaps a bit to neat considering the vast number of stylistics present. Initially there are the cover versions that take tracks that may have been originally twee, fluffy and full of indie wisp and add extra muscle. 

The opener by The Catherines (a cover of the Field Mice’s superb Emma’s House) somehow manages to keep the laconic feel of the original whilst endowing the track with battered percussion and the sort of twanging jangled riffs that would appear more comfortable being released on the early 90’s Dunedin scene.

This wonderful auxiliary musical strength is also characteristic in Pia Fraus‘ version of Nothing to Be Done by The Pastels, the controlled and muted mania of the Distant Creatures version of the The House of Love‘s (see above), Destroy The Heart who master the art of perfectly destroying a song structure and the Whimsical version of The Primitives Crash (see below), which although perhaps closer to the original version still represents a contrived feel of the cover being arrived at by virtue of some sort of gruff Bangles tribute (It is one of the best versions of a much covered track I have ever heard).

The other category of tracks I enjoyed the most on this superb compilation are those that veer off on completely apposite tangents to the original. The best of these are undoubtedly The Fisherman and His Soul‘s version of The Wedding Present’s, Dalliance which effectively rips the grumbling, morose, lovelorn heart out of the chest of the original and replaces it with a vibrant pacemaker that beats out all things early Primal Scream. Similarly Ed Ling’s version of Velocity Girl is the weirdest and yet most beguiling version of the Primal Scream classic that you are ever likely to hear.

Stella and her select band of trusty music boffs, have come up with an another absolute winner and everyone involved has the right to be justifiably proud and purchase a green flashing cod piece.


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