One pound for the 2006 Japanese CD issue of the ultimate pop cult artist’s ultimate pop cult album in a mini-LP replica card sleeve with a printed inner and lyric sheet in Japanese & English? You bet I will.3rd (aka Sister Lovers) was recorded in 1974, the quartet reduced/expanded to a duo/gaggle of session men. Having previously perfected an incisive, yet winsome writing/ performing/production style (let us call it Power Pop, for the sake of argument) 3rd was, infamously, sabotaged by leader Alex Chilton for reasons too perverse, personal or, indeed, psychologically complex to understand. For good reason is it compared to Plastic Ono Band, Tonight’s the Night and Who By Numbers. In the end, the recordings were too harrowing to release commercially and sat, dejected, on Ardent’s naughty step for four years until a clamour of voices from the New Wave, recognising a kindred and desperate love of both pop and self-flagellation, rose up and enabled its necessarily cobbled release. Fourteen years later, Ryko issued a resequenced version, including five worthy bonus tracks from the original, ramshackle sessions. It is a very good record and recommended to anyone who appreciates outsider pop art.
My ears aren’t fine enough to tell if this 2006 re-issue is the same remaster as the 1992 Ryko or not, it’s certainly the same tracklist order; logic suggests it should have been updated.
I might have the story wrong here, but I believe the tradition of Japanese album issues being that much better than their US/UK counterparts goes back to the early 80s/late 70s when unfavourable exchange rates meant that import albums sold at a fraction of the cost of domestic product. In order to make local albums more appealing for sale, Japanese manufacturers made it a point to utilise original tapes for remastering and include lyrics, posters, etc. where there’d been none. This was particularly useful for albums whose lyrics were indecipherable, e.g. Exile On Main Street.