Jellyfish Will Reissue ‘Bellybutton’ and ‘Spilt Milk’

Marc Hogan

By Marc Hogan

Lead News Writer
on 11.19.14 in News

San Francisco power-pop sophisticates Jellyfish have announced a welcome reissue of their two albums, 1990′s Bellybutton and 1993′s Spilt Milk.

Omnivore Recordings already reissued both albums on vinyl a couple of years ago, so if you’d rather own the records on wax, let this serve as notice they’re back in print. But now Omnivore has put together expanded, two-CD editions of each album, adding a total of 51 bonus tracks. The overhauled Bellybutton and Spilt Milk will be available on January 20 in North America.

Bellybutton has been remastered for the first time for this reissue, according to a press release. The first CD adds 10 live performances recorded during the album’s tour, among them covers of songs from Paul McCartney and Wings as well as the Archies. Disc two brings together demos — nine of Bellybutton songs, one that led to a Spilt Milk track and others that were never released — plus a cover of Donovan’s “Season of the Witch.” This disc will also be available digitally as The Bellybutton Demos.

Singer/guitarist Jason Falkner and bassist Chris Manning left after the Bellybutton tour, leaving a core duo of singer/drummer Andy Sturmer and multi-instrumentalist Roger Manning to hunker down for Spilt Milk. The most prominent addition to the recording process was producer Jon Brion, who had yet to achieve his later fame scoring Paul Thomas Anderson’s films and working with the likes of Fiona Apple and Kanye West.

Spilt Milk has also been remastered for the reissue, with eight demos of songs that didn’t make the album on disc one. Disco two holds album-track demos, four live recordings from the tour and the band’s last studio recording, a cover of Harry Nilsson’s Think About Your Troubles. The second disc also contains a message Jellyfish recorded in the studio and initially sent to fan club members.

The reissues are beefed up with expanded artwork, track-by-track commentary from Sturmer and Roger Manning and essays by Ken Sharp using new interviews with band members and producers.

“It’s so great to have both albums remastered and available again,” Manning said the press release. “We know that the fans have been looking for the tracks that only appeared on a long out-of-print boxed set, so many of those outtakes, demos and live tracks have been added to make these expanded deluxe two-CD sets as comprehensive as possible.”

Jellyfish had a few contemporaries at the time, such as the Posies and the Wondermints, and obvious recent comparisons include the New Pornographers. But it’s exciting to think about how they might be received by unfamiliar ears today: WS contributor Barry Walters has called Bellybutton a missing link to fun.’s Some Nights.

He wrote that Jellyfish “resembled something dreamt up by ’70s kiddie-TV purveyors Sid & Marty Krofft, and sounded just like they looked: Packed with psychedelic, power-pop and art-rock references, Bellybutton and Spilt Milk were everything the emerging grunge era was not — bright and playful, yet startlingly refined.”

The final tracklist isn’t clear yet, but you can watch a trailer for the reissues below and scroll down for Bellybutton‘s “The King Is Half-Undressed.”