k.d. lang Reintarnation

Because of her mainstream acceptance in the pop world, it’s often easy to forget that back in 1984, k.d. lang completely revolutionised country music. Her bold combination of classic sounds with punk energy, accentuated by her campy, unisex image, initially caused much head-scratching. That is, until it was apparent that the Consort, AB native possessed a voice that came along once in a generation. It’s hardly surprising, then, that the material on this long-overdue compilation of her early years, from the Canadian indie A Truly Western Experience, to 1989’s U.S. break-out Absolute Torch and Twang, holds up astoundingly well. The most incredible thing — especially for those who haven’t heard these songs since — is how fully-formed lang’s approach was even from her first recording, the rare 1983 single, "Friday Dance Promenade” (included here). From there it wasn’t a big stretch to the in-your-face cowpunk of the first album, then the more refined rockabilly of the Dave Edmunds-produced Angel with a Lariat. But, then as now, the real breakthrough came with 1988’s Shadowland, made with Owen Bradley, producer of lang’s idol Patsy Cline. It’s therefore surprising how little attention that album gets on Reintarnation, compared to the records that book-ended it. There’s also the absence of her career-defining duet with Roy Orbison on "Crying” and her early show-stopper "Johnny Get Angry,” but in their places are a stunning demo of "Nowhere to Stand,” and the hard-driving, previously unheard "Changed My Mind.” While lang will surely never be able to recreate the groundbreaking work included here, at least her iconic legacy is now preserved. (Rhino)