Various Artists

Wakefield, Vol. 2: Hai Communist Tart!

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The second volume of the Wakefield retrospective -- a set of four CDs, available individually and in a limited-edition box set, issued to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the pioneering American indie label TeenBeat -- Hai Communist Tart! is a joint venture with the Japanese imprint 100 Guitar Mania, and while designed as an introductory sampler for Japanese listeners, the disc is an excellent gateway for curious pop fans the world over. The disc's 14 tracks assemble a number of tracks previously available only on long-deleted 7" singles, many of them among the true highlights of the TeenBeat catalog -- both the last single from label founder Mark Robinson's band Unrest ("Afternoon Train") and the debut from his follow-up project Air Miami ("Airplane Rider") make the cut, as does Barbara Manning's gorgeous cover of the Lefty Frizzell chestnut "I Love You 1,000 Ways," Grenadine's atmospheric "Don't Forget the Halo," and Cath Carroll's sexy "My Cold Heart." Butch Willis' "Hank's Song" and Jonny Cohen's "Christmas Trees Everywhere" aren't likely to appeal to many tastes, and the inclusion of "Janet" -- one of the weaker tracks from Versus' largely fantastic The Stars Are Insane LP -- is confusing, but, by and large, this is a good introduction to one of the defining Amerindie voices of the 1990s.