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Neil Young
On the Beach
(Reprise)

Finally! Of the five recent Neil Young reissues, On the Beach is the only essential one. Totally unhinged, sounding like some lost hitchhiker who sleeps in ditches and gargles ethanol, Neil put all the demonic, paranoid energy into this 1974 release that he could muster, which wasn’t much in those sedated, overdosed days. Part of a trilogy that includes Tonight’s the Night and Time Fades Away, On the Beach is mesmerizing, harrowing, lucid, and bleary. Nothing on this album is perfect, his voice is off-key, and his guitar sounds fevered, and it’s all truly beautiful. — Derek Svennungsen


N ew Model Army
Great Expectations — The Singles Collection
(Superfecta)

Post-punk U.K. outfit New Model Army has as much power as heavy bands like Killing Joke, but also a softer, melodic side more in line with the Chameleons and even a touch of acoustic leanings à la Billy Bragg. The musicianship and production on this new retrospective are both excellent, and the energy from every song is infectious. NMA never really took off in the U.S. the way they deserved, so this anthology is the perfect introduction for those of us unfamiliar with their almost 20-year career. — Dru Allen


Jimmy Cliff
(and Various Artists)
The Harder They Come: Deluxe Edition
(Island)

Thirty years ago, a gritty, raw, intensely entertaining film from Jamaica became an international hit with the Vietnam generation: The Harder They Come. It starred the period’s preeminent voice of reggae music — Jimmy Cliff — as an ill-fated country boy turned “Rude Boy” rebel who yearns to make it as a music star in funky Kingston. The soundtrack to this magnificent film is a classic, featuring works by Desmond Dekker, the Maytals, the Slickers, the Melodians, and Scotty, as well as Jimmy Cliff. The re-mastered
re-release is just as sweet and dandy. — Sean Mageean


Mekons
Punk Rock
(Quarter Stick)

What else would you expect from a band whose catalog includes Rock ’n’ Roll and Honky Tonkin’? All spit, no polish, this punk delivers the impotent rage of wage slaves and the gnawing longing of love without the tinnitus-inducing noise. These songs, written from ’77-’81, and revisited and re-recorded in ’02-’03, still ring pertinent with punky sadness/gladness. Not the first Mekons disc to buy (that’s R’n’R), but its commitment, humor, and clarity will mean it won’t be your last. — Martin I. Junipero


Sly and Robbie/
Mad Professor
The Dub Revolutionaries
(Ras Records)

I was so excited to hear the new CD from Sly and Robbie, and I was doubly excited when I found out it was recorded at the Mad Professor’s Ariwa studio in London. Mad Professor’s tweaks and turns on Sly’s “never miss a beat” drumming, and Robbie’s non-stop bass playing produced some really imaginative and energetic dub music. The added touch of reggae saxophonist Dean Fraser took Dub Revolutionaries to a whole new instrumental level. — Sherie Brinley-Higgins

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