To celebrate their 25th anniversary, Merge Records will be reissuing classic albums from their back catalog each month throughout 2014. Some of these selections have been long out of print,and have great companion bonus material, or they were requested by nerds in the Merge office who just wanted to own them on vinyl. The first of these special releases was chosen for all three of these reasons: Lambchop’s masterpiece, Nixon.
Nixon was released in early 2000. Starting with the swell of horns in the middle of album opener “The Old Gold Shoe,” the album glides easily from one unexpected grace note to the next, peppering in funk, R&B, gospel, country, vintage folk—and integrating them all, not presenting them discretely. Over the years, as Lambchop has continued to experiment, making more albums that are just as conceptual and well executed, Nixon has grown in stature as a sort of origin point.
Yet as much as it was the kickoff to a new chapter in Lambchop’s story, Nixon was also an ending of sorts. On the records that have followed, Kurt Wagner has tended to work with fewer personnel on any given track, moving away from Nixon’s bigger sound. “Nixon might’ve been the peak of the 14-person Lambchop,” he says. It was also the last Lambchop album to be recorded almost entirely with the old analog methods, which is something that Wagner marvels at now, given how complex these songs were to assemble.
The Nixon double-CD includes the original album plus a bonus disc containing White Sessions 1998: How I Met Cat Power, a remastered live solo session Kurt recorded at Radio France in 1998. The LP is pressed on 180-gram vinyl and includes the CD of bonus material.