Great Lost Albums – Recommend A Neglected Classic

Last week’s issue of NME magazine was a Lost Albums special, a run down of 100 great albums you’ve never heard. Featuring staff picks and selections from Kasabian, The Cribs and Graham Coxon among others it’s Part Two of the feature we ran this time last year.

Last year I think I waffled lyrical about Ultrasound’s ‘Everything Picture’, which was essentially the greatest album of the nineties – a bombastic post-prog double LP of magnificently overreaching proportions and ambitions (still played live every few months to crowds at their tiny reunion shows).

This time, I thought I’d shine a torch onto mid-90s moody Oxford rockers Medal and their debut album ‘Drop Your Weapon’ (which is not that lost, as it’s available on Spotify).

Remember them? Perhaps not. Checking back on Wikipedia and their main claim to fame is that “they were the first band to play Oxford’s Zodiac”. Formerly The Daisies, they ran for about three years from that arid era between 1998 and 2001, attracting the attention and cash of Polydor for one LP before getting unceremoniously dumped, launching their own label El Producto for a follow up and fizzling out.

The debut is an underrated classic, though. Kicking off with a sprawling six minute prog jam called ‘Is Your Soul In Your Head’, it was a masterpiece of skewed indie, plaintive post rock and noisy experimentation. NME declared the record “indescribably complicated and bewilderingly pretentious and that’s only the cover” at the time, which sounds like my kind of thing right there.

‘Porno Song’ was an almost proto-Muse favourite while ‘Up Here For Hours’ came across like a Verve-y ballad that exploded into psychedelic moments not shy of Radiohead territory. Add to that the heartbeat-propelled ‘Possibility’ and spectral closer ‘Getting Up’ and you had a hypnotic bunch of tracks.

And these were the days you could pick up singles for 20p at Bristol’s Replay Records (RIP) so copies could be disseminated around friends. They also gave out Medal condoms at Reading, which we all thought was a nice touch.

Looking back it’s hard to see why they never got more of a chance – perhaps Jamie Hyatt’s vocals just weren’t strong enough. [As a side note, flipping back to this era in my head has brought back memories of Campag Velocet’s ‘Bon Chic Bon Genre’ and Money Mark’s ‘Push The Button’ – two other pretty decent LPs consigned to the dustbins of time.]

What would you nominate as your top lost album? Here’s a few from the mag – get the full issue, subscribe, or download a digital copy now.

Graham Coxon: My Bloody Valentine, ‘Ecstasy And Wine’

I know Kevin Shields might hate me for picking this, but it’s the sort of music that I’m a big fan of, beautiful little pop music but it’s very barbed, with a layer of white noise and big tambourines.
Read Graham’s full piece.

Gaspard Augé: Cornelius, ‘Fantasma’

He’s a Japanese guy, and this album was very playful: something that was rare at that time in electronic music. It was a great blend of pop music, classical music, and electronic music.
Read Justice’s choices in full.

Justin Young: The Zombies, ‘Odessey And Oracle’

The songwriting and melodies are just as strong as anything by The Kinks or any other band. It just kind of amazes me that that record isn’t in everyone’s collection.

Noel Gallagher: Cotton Mather, ‘Kon Tiki’

I bought [legendary Texan indie rockers] Cotton Mather’s ‘Kon Tiki’ album maybe 10 or 11 years ago, solely on the strength of a tiny review in some magazine or other.The review claimed it was the sound of The Beatles playing Bob Dylan! For once the reviewer had actually got it right.There is a track on there called ‘She’s Only Cool’ which I very much wished I’d written myself – and that’s not even the best thing on it!

Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglu: Julian Casablancas, ‘Phrazes For The Young’

This is an album that I really love and it just didn’t get its due. There are a lot of things that are amazing about it but it takes time to get into, and for that reason some people just didn’t hear it enough to give it the chance it deserved. It’s a really special record and I hope more people hear it in the coming years. I love the lyrics. They come from a pretty real place, and I felt like I could really relate to them. It is a recent lost record, but it is a really great record and so many people I respect agree with me.

The Cribs’ Gary Jarman: Comet Gain, ‘Realistes’

The album that I would absolutely choose as ‘underrated masterpiece’ or whatever is ‘Réalistes’. It’s underrated because I can’t understand why it hasn’t sold untold millions and made David Feck and co into lionised rock star assholes. It’s not only in my opinion the greatest pop album of our times, but it is also emotionally deeper and more beautiful than any of the beardy brigade could ever hope to be.
The Killers’ Ronnie Vannucci: Ben Fold Five, ‘Whatever And Ever Amen’

When I was 18, Ben Folds Five were one of the first shows I’d ever seen. And I just really stuck with that band. Their stuff, lyrically, gets to me now more than it did back then. I wasn’t mature enough to handle it when I was a teenager.
Especially that song ‘Smoke’, which is about a guy who’s just trying to move on, him dealing with somebody who won’t let that happen. There’s a bunch of really great songs about being dumped and having things go wrong in your life, marriages getting dissolved.

Kasabian’s Tom Meighan: Kevin Rowland, ‘My Beauty’

Kevin’s the former frontman of Dexys Midnight Runners. Alan McGee signed him and put ‘My Beauty’ out on Creation, and everyone just shat on it. But I thought it was great – it’s a load of covers and I thought it was fantastic. I can’t get it anywhere now. It sold about 20 copies, it flopped to fuck. He’s on the cover cross-dressing, it’s massive.

Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong: Tom Waits, ‘Rain Dogs’

It has really great stories and every song leads into the next one so nicely and naturally – it’s sort of like a concept album about “the urban dispossessed”. It creates an overall sort of desperate kind of feeling about… well, I don’t know what. And then there’s the title itself: ‘Rain Dogs’ are dogs that have got lost because the rain has washed away all the smells they’d use to navigate, so he uses them as an image to represent homeless people.

Photo Gallery: 20 Lost Albums Ripe For Rediscovery

Stream choice tracks from NME’s 100 Lost Albums on Spotify