The Durutti Column Circuses and Bread / Fidelity / Live In Bruxelles / Lips That Would Kiss

Factory Records impresario Tony Wilson may have made a few questionable musical judgements over the years but nobody ever questioned his absolute devotion to Vini Reilly and the Durutti Column. Yet despite having a faithful cult following and a lengthy discography, they are one of those forgotten bands whose true value will probably never be fully known. This latest set of reissues focuses on the band’s middle years and the albums released on the Belgian Crepuscule and Factory-Benelux labels, starting with 1985’s Circuses and Bread. Like many of the band’s records from around this time, it covers a lot of ground, from intricately orchestrated instrumentals and delicate songs to more abstract tracks that must have been a huge influence on Disco Inferno and Bark Psychosis. The album is rounded out by ten worthwhile bonus tracks, half of which are previously unreleased. 1996’s Fidelity is cut from a very similar cloth, but with a less organic, more synthesised sound that time hasn’t been quite as kind to. The good parts, however, are still very good. Live In Bruxelles was recorded at a summer musical festival in Brussels and is a fascinating document of the original line-up playing tracks from their first two albums to a very appreciative crowd. The ten-song performance has an interesting interview with Reilly as a bonus track, during which he talks at length about his music. The real gem is the 1991 compilation Lips That Would Kiss, which brings together tracks from various compilations, rare early singles and unreleased work from the early ’80s. It demonstrates beautifully the sound of a band trying new things, slowly evolving and becoming more confident, making for a surprisingly cohesive album. These four albums might not be the best introduction but the one thing that they make very clear is that the backbone of the Durutti Column is Reilly’s unique guitar playing. It is time they are introduced to a new audience. (LTM)