Arriving in two distinctly different fan-friendly editions, "Backtracks" spans the length and breadth of AC/DC's career, bringing together rare songs, hard-to-find live performances and the long-awaited debut of "Family Jewels Disc 3", a DVD showcasing the group's music videos, live performances, and promotional clips from 1992-2009. (The original double-disc "Family Jewels" was named 2005's "DVD of the Year" by the U.K.'s Classic Rock magazine while the RIAA certified the collection 10x platinum for sales in excess of 1 million copies in the U.S. alone.)
Its lengthy incubation process notwithstanding, V.V. Brown's clever debut album, Travelling Like the Light, is as genuine, natural, and deep as mishmash throwback pop can get. There are a couple contemporary moments, like "Shark in the Water," featuring strummy verses and a surging chorus, but the album mostly shoots forth nods to R&B and rock & roll of the '50s, '60s, and '70s that are relentlessly playful, whether the lyrics reveal tears, daggers, or butterflies. Brown, an English songwriter who has written hits for the Pussycat Dolls and Sugababes, is bound to provoke comparisons with Janelle Monáe for her retro look and boundless energy, but she's closer to being the child of Kirsty MacColl and the sibling of Jazmine Sullivan, messing with pop traditions as she courts and reprimands with a large, youthful voice that positively dances.
Originally released on Polydor in 1974, "Fragments of Light" does not bend to mid-'70s genre-classism. Fluid, meditative guitar leads and innovative use of synthesizers, combined with a noted lack of percussion (and vocals) on all but a few songs, have drawn comparisons to Kosmische legends Tangerine Dream and Popol Vuh. "Space Closure," the only track with live drums, resembles the kinetic progressive rock of fellow Italian Franco Battiato, while the shimmering bliss of "Do You Love Me?" rivals the American power pop that Falsini surely absorbed during his time in the States. A certain airy, homespun feel lends "Fragments of Light" its unique character.
Pere Ubu's troubles with record companies are legendary within certain underground rock circles. In perhaps the most bizarre turn of events, the group's collected works of 1978-1982 – after being out of print for nearly a decade – were reissued by Geffen as a five-disc box set, Datapanik in the Year Zero. Named after the group's 1978 EP, the set is arranged chronologically and occasionally substitutes live versions for studio tracks, but that hardly matters – nearly every song the band recorded during the five-year time span is included.