Various Artists

No Balls

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Another in a long line of 4AD label samplers, if memory serves No Balls was available free with subscription copies of the much-missed Option magazine. It's very much a companion piece to the limited-edition commercial sampler All Virgos Are Mad, with essentially the same roster of bands and a handful of overlapping songs, including Heidi Berry's "The Mountain" and Kendra Smith's "Bold Marauder." And unlike All Virgos Are Mad, nothing on No Balls is an exclusive release. It's still worth tracking down, if only for the unsettling Vaughan Oliver sleeve and the uniform excellence of the material; 1995 was perhaps 4AD's last great year, as highlights including Red House Painters' achingly beautiful "Summer Dress" and Dead Can Dance's swirling "Rakim" convincingly suggest.

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