Noble Rot, the label subsidiary of Collectors' Choice devoted to preserving great early indie-rock albums of the '80s and '90s, will release three new reissues on January 29: Praying Mantis bv Jim Carroll, Beautiful Thing by Ben Vaughn and What We Had by Wednesday Week. Keeping in Noble Rot's tradition, the reissues will be packaged in cardboard Digi-Paks with liner notes.
Previous Noble Rot reissues have included Robyn Hitchcock, Grant Lee Buffalo, Hunters & Collectors, The Surf Punks, Martini Ranch, Rodney Crowell's side project Cicadas, and more.
• Wednesday Week – What We Had. Wednesday Week is a long-running Los Angeles-based band anchored by sisters Kristi and Kelly Callan, with members who have included Heidi Rodewald (later in the Negro Problem), David Nolte (The Last, Wondermints, Maria McKee, Davie Allen & the Arrows and David Gray), Dave Provost (The Droogs, Dream Syndicate), and Ilene Markell (7 Deadly 5). The Noble Rot reissue contains not only the band's 1987 complete Don Dixon-produced album What We Had (originally on Enigma), but TEN bonus tracks including the complete 1983 EP Betsy's House on WarFrat Records, plus five more songs from the band's archives. These include an alternate version of "You Wanted Me to Hang Around"; the previously unreleased "All So Clear," from an obscure Midnight Records holiday compilation; the fan club single "Leopard"; and the title track of 1990's No Going Back album on the Swedish Spins label. Liner notes are by Los Angeles Times TV critic and Wednesday Week fan/friend Robert Lloyd.
• Ben Vaughn – Beautiful Thing. Vaughn is a rock 'n 'roll renaissance man — a artist and songwriter, producer (Arthur Alexander's acclaimed Lonely Just Like Me, Charlie Feathers), and prolific TV score-smith ( Third Rock from the Sun, That '70s Show and Grounded for Life.) The Jersey/Philly boy put himself on the map with the 1986 album The Many Moods of Ben Vaughn and followed up with this 1987 album, Beautiful Thing, cut in a New Jersey garage and originally issued on Restless Records. The album contains such tracks as "She's a Real Scream" (with the infamous line "Her end justifies the means"), the Gary Usher-like surf sound of "Desert Boots," "Jerry Lewis in France, " Clothes Don't Make The Man," "Beautiful Thing, "The North Wind Blew," "Shingaling with Me" and "Gimme Gimme Gimme.". A nearly forgotten classic, reissued with liner notes by pop scholar Gene Sculatti and quotes from Vaughn himself.
• Jim Carroll – Praying Mantis. Those familiar only with the hit "People Who Died" may not realize that Jim Carroll, like Patti Smith and Tom Verlaine, first started performing as a poet in the Lower East Side scene. This 1991 album, originally issued on Giant, takes us to the heart of that scene, St. Mark's Church on the Bowery, for a series of poems and semi-improvised comic monologues taken from Carroll's collections. Included are pieces from several collections: "Living at the Movies" (1973), "The Book of Nods" (1986) and "Forced Entries" (1987) as well as a 14-minute improvised rant titled "The Loss of American Innocence." In other words, something of a greatest hits poetry collection. Liner note writer Kim Cooper, a pop culture writer and blogger, describes his performance as "requiring intense attention that rewards with humor and flashes of subtle, elegant observation." The album, she notes, "struck a confident note of a nimble artist reinventing himself."