Shopping For Records: More Superior Viaduct reissues — electric eels, Glenn Branca and Alain Goraguer

Reissue label extraordinaire, Superior Viaduct, is prepping some more out-of-print and/or obscure excellence to be released this November from proto-punk crazies electric eels, No Wave figurehead Glenn Branca and composer Alain Goraguer.  I'm especially excited about the Branca reissue, which is his solo debut, The Ascension.  I've had this album on my wishlist for many years, so I'm glad I waited on picking it up since a proper 12" edition will be available in the coming months.

All info is provided courtesy of Howlin' Wuelf Media. 

Superior Viaduct releasing archival albums from electric eels, Glenn Branca and Alain Goraguer in November

The highly ambitious and ever-so-discerning re-issue label Superior Viaduct label will be releasing their next batch of releases on November 25.

Cleveland's electric eels (all lower case in homage to poet e.e. cummings) is America's quintessential proto-punk band. Formed in 1972 by singer Dave E. McManus and guitarists John Morton and Brian McMahon, the group enlisted drummer Nick Knox (later of The Cramps) and producer Paul Marotta to record a flurry of catchy and genuinely fucked-up tunes. After only five legendary live performances - complete with Dave E. in black leather jacket covered in rat-traps and playing a gas-powered lawnmower on stage - the eels broke up in 1976 and posthumously released their classic single Agitated on Rough Trade in 1978, blazing a trail for high-art, low-concept rock.

As Jon Savage writes in the liner notes,
"There is something heroic about the eels' isolation and uncompromising attitude: a fierceness that you can hear in these songs that still resonates in a different time and world."

This archival LP,
Die Electric Eels, collects the eels' best material from 1974-75. From the loud and snotty "Agitated" and its B-side "Cyclotron" (which Johan Kugelberg listed as #1 in his top 100 punk singles) to the anarchic anthem "Jaguar Ride" and the loose, bluesy sludge of "Anxiety," the album exorcises the demonic power of the Stooges and Velvets and captures the mystique of these outsider artists inventing a new language.

As the eels demand "Attendance Required" on their flyer for the infamous Special Extermination Music Night, listening is absolutely mandatory for this seminal band. Recommended for fans of Dead Boys, Simply Saucer and Pagans.

Track Listing:
You're Full of Shit
Tidal Wave
Jaguar Ride
Cold Meat
Splitterty Splat
Natural Situation
You Crummy Fags

Format: LP
Retrospective LP of seminal Cleveland band, circa 1974-75

Featuring their classic Rough Trade single

Liner notes by Jon Savage 


Following their legendary punk-as-ever Agitated single, electric eels released their second posthumous single, Spin Age Blasters / Bunnies, on Mustard Records in 1981. Recorded in 1975 and taking the band's free-form jazz and art rock alliances to dizzying extreme, the twin-guitar swirl of "Spin Age Blasters" sounds like Trout Mask Replica on paint fumes, while "Bunnies" features Dave E.'s relaxing Bob-Ross-like vocals and frantic clarinet bursts à la Roscoe Mitchell.

This first-time vinyl reissue includes original cover artwork by eels' guitarist John Morton and is pressed in a limited edition of 1,000 copies.

Track Listing:
Spin Age Blasters

Format: 7"

First-time reissue of second single, originally released in 1981

Original copies go for high collector prices

Limited edition of 1,000 copies 


Animated sci-fi masterpiece La Planète Sauvage (a.k.a. Fantastic Planet), winner at Cannes Film Festival in 1973, is a bizarre and beautiful film. Towering blue-skinned figures, tiny humanoids in the midst of revolt, and drug-induced Tantric sex transport viewers to a truly magical setting. 

Composer Alain Goraguer creates an equally hypnotic score from a palette of effects-laden guitars, flutes, Fender Rhodes and strings. While the lush arrangements are reminiscent of Goraguer's collaborations with Serge Gainsbourg in the 1960s, space-age synth flourishes suggest a more psychedelic era. Moody vignettes flow together in tense, slow-paced funk rhythms and Baroque textures.

It comes as no surprise that La Planète Sauvage has been cited as an influence on contemporary artists such as French duo Air and American hip-hop producers J Dilla and Madlib. Gorgeous, interplanetary soundscapes resemble the surreal meeting point between Pink Floyd's Obscured by Clouds and Broadcast's Future Crayon.

This long out-of-print vinyl release features the original soundtrack recording and newly designed artwork. Recommended for fans of Ennio Morricone, Basil Kirchin and David Axelrod.

Track Listing:
Déshominisation (II)
Déshominisation (I)
Le Bracelet
Ten Et Tiwa
Maquillage De Tiwa
Course De Ten
Ten Et Medor
Ten Et Tiwa Dorment
Ten Est Assome
Conseil Des Draags
Les Hommes-La Grande Co-Existence
La Femme
Mira Et Ten
Mort De Draag
La Cité Des Hommes Libres
Attaque Des Robots
La Longue Marche-Valse Des Statues
Les Fusées
Strip Tease
Méditation Des Enfants
La Vieille Meurt

Format: LP

Classic 1973 space-age pop soundtrack from long-time collaborator with Serge Gainsbourg

Sampled countless times by J Dilla, Madlib and more

Newly designed artwork


Glenn Branca's first full-length album The Ascension is a colossal achievement. After touring much of 1980 with an all-star band featuring four guitarists (Branca, fellow composers Ned Sublette and David Rosenbloom, and future Sonic Youth member Lee Ranaldo) along with Jeffrey Glenn on bass and Stephan Wischerth on drums, Branca took his war-torn group into a studio in Hell's Kitchen to record five incendiary compositions. Originally released in the summer of 1981, The Ascension effectively tears down the genre-ghettos between 20th century avant-garde and ecstatic rock 'n' roll.

On "The Spectacular Commodity," chiming, shimmering tones unfold into sinister drone-territory à la Tony Conrad, while abrasive guitars and repetitive beats retain the raw primitivism of No Wave. The title track attains a densely packed, larger-than-life sound and (as author Marc Masters says best) "never stops climbing skyward."

With artist Robert Longo's stark front cover that depicts Branca battling an unidentified man, The Ascension is a must-have record not only for fans of early Swans and Sonic Youth, but also of Steve Reich or Slint's Tweez.

Track Listing:
Lesson No. 2
The Spectacular Commodity
Lightfield (In Consonance)
The Ascension

Format: LP

1981 debut album originally released on 99 Records

Original copies go for high collector prices

Featuring David Rosenbloom and Lee Ranaldo

Letters From A Tapehead


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