One of the beauties of living in an era of hyper-technology is that it’s never been easier to dumpster dive through the musical annals of history for hidden treasure. But while anyone can go mining through YouTube for gold, it takes a special breed to wade through the mysterious waters of reissues. Hunting down long-lost artists and restoring their precious masters to life is a tricky business, but label Light In The Attic has led the reissue revolution with panache since setting up shop in Seattle in 2002.
Perhaps the most interesting quality of Light In The Attic’s reissues is the spiritual kinship that so many of their artists share. LITA’s records have a folkish, proletariat quality to them, not only because so many of their releases fall under the Americana banner, but also in the way they expose the struggles of everyday artists who never truly caught the spotlight—or in some cases, purposely avoided it. Whether it’s in the fiery political incantations of The Last Poets, the indigenous songwriters populating the Native North America compilation, or the honky-tonk surrealism of Lee Hazlewood, Light In The Attic searches for humanity in the under-exposed and reveals the alternate histories of our musical traditions that have been happening all along, right under our noses.
Though tackling a catalog as wide and diverse as theirs is an unruly challenge, this playlist highlights some of the wonderful music that Light In The Attic has brought to our attention over the years, and also illustrates the spirit that connects these forgotten visions. Take a listen, and remember that sometimes the greatest voices are those least heard.