Essential New Music: Colin Newman’s “A-Z” “Provisionally Entitled The Singing Fish” “Not To”

Vinyl is presently the big thing for collectors, audiophiles and people trying to fit in, but we’re going to recommend anyone interested in the reissues of Colin Newman’s early-’80s solo albums pick up the CD versions. That’s because each of the remastered versions of A-Z, Provisionally Entitled The Singing Fish and Not To is paired with a second disc of demos, alternate versions, outtakes, home recordings and unreleased material totaling 59 additional tracks, none of which is included on the single vinyl releases. Each album has its own identity; A-Z is a genre spanner, Provisionally Entitled The Singing Fish is a bizarre soundtrack for an unmade Lynch/Bergman collaboration, and Not To made experiments accessible via angular indie pop. Not only is this a treasure trove for fans and completists, it offers a fascinating glimpse at the creative process as well as the cycles and phases songs get wrangled through before the finished album-worthy versions.

—Kevin Stewart-Panko