For fans of: Al Green, Otis Redding
The passing of Wilson Pickett from a heart attack this past January quieted one of R&B's most essential voices at the age of 65. Although there's no real shortage of Pickett hit sets out there, Rhino's new two-disc The Definitive Collection is a timely tribute to the irrepressible grit 'n' gravel-voiced legend. Replacing the label's now-out-of-print 1992 comp A Man and a Half: The Best of Wilson Pickett, this new set doesn't dig quite as deep, but the 30 tracks here neatly capture all the high points of the Wicked One's career - from his earliest days with gospel vocal group the Falcons ("I Found a Love") to his early singles ("It's Too Late") to the peerless sides recorded in Memphis with the Stax label crew ("In the Midnight Hour"), and later with Alabama's Fame studio sessioneers ("Mustang Sally"). All newly remastered, the songs' sound quality (one of the major complaints with A Man and a Half) is genuinely impressive, adding a new luster to a set of tunes - among them "Land of a Thousand Dances," "634-5789 (Soulsville U.S.A.)," and "Don't Fight It" - that Pickett turned into soul standards. — B.B.
Founded in the mid-’80s, combustible Scottish post-punk outfit the Jesus and Mary Chain never left much of an impression on the charts, but the group has had a pervasive influence on everyone from contemporaries like My Bloody Valentine and the Stone Roses through modern acts like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and the Raveonettes. Led by brothers William and Jim Reid, the band emerged from the morass of fey New Romantic music dominating the British charts with a sound that combined the debauched noir elements of proto-punks like the Velvet Underground and the Stooges with the melodic panache of ’60s pop and girl group auteurs like Phil Spector and Brian Wilson. That delicate balance was captured perfectly on the band’s first effort, 1985’s Psychocandy, a landmark of light/dark tension that remains one of rock’s most celebrated debuts. The group followed that with plenty of sibling battles, label conflicts, lineup changes, and three more albums of brilliant feedback-laden rock (a nearly perfect run encompassing 1987’s Darklands, 1989’s Automatic, and 1992’s Honey’s Dead). After an extended break, due partly to the Reids’ bickering, they reemerged in 1994 with the muted, largely acoustic Stoned and Dethroned. They later signed to American indie Sup Pop for 1998’s subpar swan song Munki, and the band called it quits the following year. Each of the remastered discs here comes in DualDisc format and packaged with a trio of DVD video clips. There’s nothing in the way of bonus tracks or unreleased material, but there’s little need for them, as these LPs — a true cornerstone of alternative music — stand on their own. — B.B.