April was an off month for British albums that are not planned for U.S. release. If you're looking for big names, forget it. Yet, there are a number of interesting albums this time around. If you're disappointed with punk-rock, you may want to listen to the roots of the music for something a bit weightier. Two British companies. Atlantic and Elektra, have helped out by reissuing classic albums by the MC5 and The Stooges. Atlantic has the best of the three MC5 LPs, Back Into The Streets (1970), while Elektra gives us the two Stooges albums: their first (produced by John Cale) from 1969, and Fun House (1970). I imagine that U.S. RCA will have to sell a lot of Iggy Pop albums to convince U.S. Elektra to re-release The Stooges' albums over here.
That fun-loving record company, Stiff, has finally released their somewhat long-awaited sampler album, A Bunch Of Stiffs. None of the original release of singles (Nick Lowe), Tyla Gang, Magic Michael, Elvis Costello, Martin Stone's Stone's Masonry, and a 1969 cut of Jill Read doing "Maybe," produced by Dave Edmunds. Dave does a version of Chuck Berry's "Jo Jo Gunne," and teams up with Lowe, Tyla and others as The Takeaways doing "Food." As a special bonus, there is the original demo version of Graham Parker doing "Back To School Days," uncredited and unlisted on the cover and album.
British United Artists, under the guidance of A&R director Andrew Lauder, traditionally does the best repackages in the business. In the past Lauder/UA have done sets on 'fifties/early 'sixties rock and "Mersey Beat," and now it's a two-LP set called The Beat Merchants. It's got tracks by more than 40 different British groups recorded between 1963 and 1964. Many current biggies (Robin Trower, Jeff Lynne. members of 10CC. etc.,) are represented in their early days. The infamous Downliners Sect (who have just gotten hack together) are here, as well as the Pirates (who are also gigging again), Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers, Bern Elliot and the Fenmen, the Big Three, The Paramounts (w/ Trower), The Roulettes (w/ Russ Ballard), The Farinas (pre-Family), Mike Sheridan and the Nightriders, The Searchers (recorded live) and many more.