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Virgin Records Celebrates “40 Years of Disruptions” with New Compilation, Picture Discs

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Virgin 40Virgin Records, one of England’s most iconic labels, turns 40 this year – and they’re celebrating with a new compilation full of hits from their storied existence.

The Virgin label was largely the brainchild of one young businessman named Richard Branson. The London-born Branson began his career selling records by mail order and later opening a shop on Oxford Street. The Virgin label was blessed with early success thanks to a willingness to sign acts that major U.K. labels were keen to dismiss. This netted them a smash hit with their very first release, Mike Oldfield’s captivating instrumental “Tubular Bells,” as well as a place in cultural history as the label who’d ultimately made the strongest commitment to punk band The Sex Pistols, after EMI and A&M each dropped the band. (It was Virgin who’d pressed the commercial version of their No. 2 hit “God Save The Queen” as well as their sole studio album, Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols.)

The decades to come found Virgin succeeding with all sorts of genres: MTV-ready pop/rock (Culture Club, The Human League, The Spice Girls), groundbreaking alt-rock and New Wave (Simple Minds, XTC), multi-generational rock (Genesis and its two most famous frontmen, Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins; The Rolling Stones, for a time) hip-hop and dance (Soul II Soul, Neneh Cherry, Daft Punk, Massive Attack) and more, all the way up to the present (recent critical and commercial hits include tracks by Swedish House Mafia, Emili Sandé and CHVRCHES).

Branson would ultimately sell Virgin to EMI in 1992 to keep other parts of his business empire afloat; the iconoclastic entrepreneur found success in everything from air travel to publishing to music festivals (Europe’s V Festival) to record stores (the late Virgin Megastores) to mobile phones to…well, even more interesting stuff (Branson plans to be aboard the inaugural Virgin Galactic flight – a commercial space trip – this year.) The label continues to exist, now of course under the Universal Music Group family.

Virgin Records: 40 Years of Disruptions plans to honor the label’s indomitable spirit across two discs, along with a bonus EP of current Virgin artists covering some classic tracks, including cuts by John Lennon, Peter Gabriel, Massive Attack and others. The set is in stores today, amid a swath of exhibitions in honor of the label around the U.K. area. The label is also selling a handful of their most beloved titles, including singles and albums, as limited edition vinyl titles (many of which are picture discs). The full list is available at Universal’s Uvinyl page.

As always, you can check out the track list and buy the set after the jump.

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Massive Attack’s Debut Getting New Remix, Remaster for November Release

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The debut LP from trip-hop pioneers Massive Attack is about to get a bit more massive in the U.K. this year, with a remixed, remastered deluxe edition due in November.

Blue Lines, originally released in 1991, was a watershed moment for British dance music. Before “trip-hop” was an actual subgenre repeated in music magazines, the Bristol-based trio of Robert “3D” Del Naja, Grant “Daddy G” Marshall and Andrew “Mushroom” Vowles helped forge its sonic identity as Massive Attack. As members of Bristol’s “Wild Bunch” scene with luminaries like rapper Adrian “Tricky” Thaws and DJ/producer/remixer Nellee Hooper, Massive Attack rebelled against the acid house style of dance music that was big at the time with a downtempo, hip-hop and electronica-influenced soundscape.

The results were huge. The album, as well as singles “Unfinished Sympathy” and “Safe from Harm,” all peaked within the Top 25 of the British charts. The group’s increased exposure led to a long, healthy career toward the forefront of modern dance music, collaborating with Madonna, Sinead O’Connor, Neneh Cherry, Damon Albarn and countless others. (Vowles left the group in 2000, leaving Del Naja and Marshall a duo whose latest album, Heligoland, was released in 2009.)

Virgin/EMI are releasing a new edition of Blue Lines on CD that’s entirely remastered and newly remixed from the original tapes. There’s also a deluxe edition forthcoming that pairs the new CD remaster/remix with the same program on double-vinyl and in hi-res, 96K/24-bit audio on DVD. The set also comes with a replica of the original 18″ x 24″ promotional poster for the album, all in a specially screen-printed mailer that replicates the style in which the original album sleeve was printed. (A smaller screen-printed mailer will encase the single-disc edition, as well.)

Both packages hit U.K. shops on November 19, and U.S. stores get it as a domestic title one day later. Hit the jump for pre-order links!

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Written by Mike Duquette

September 20, 2012 at 14:49