YO LA TENGO announce 25th anniversary reissue of ‘Electr-o-pura’ via Matador + listen to Lucy Dacus cover of ‘Tom Courtenay’ + essay on the album

April 30, 2020
credit: Michael Lavine


Continuing with our ever-expanding, and I’m sure to some of you exhausting, Revisionist History series, we are pleased to announce a 25th anniversary reissue of Yo La Tengo’s 1995 album Electr-o-pura. Now in a gatefold sleeve and cut from the original 58 minute master, the new reissue is pressed for the first time on two LPs to ensure the highest quality of audio the album has had on vinyl to date. Pre-orders for the new edition are available now via the Matador store HERE.

Reuniting with Painful co-producer Roger Moutenot, Yo La Tengo’s Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley and James McNew set up shop at Alex the Great studios in Nashville, TN to record their seventh studio album Electr-o-pura. Chock full with moments of pop gold like ‘Tom Courtenay’, melancholic ballads such as the gorgeous, Hubley fronted ‘Don’t Say A Word (Hot Chicken #2)’ *,and sweeping, feedback-laden jams like the show-stopping ‘Blue Line Swinger’, Electr-o-pura expands on the venturous songwriting established on Painful with stunning craft and a deepened exploration of contrasting textures, moods and atmospherics. Now 25 years since its release, Electr-o-pura remains an electrifying document of one of America’s most beloved bands hitting their creative stride and stands as one of the most sublime records the band has released in their uninterrupted 36-year career.

Songwriter Lucy Dacus, who happened to be born on the day of Electr-o-pura’s release, has written a new essay on the landmark album along with a video of the songwriter covering her favorite track ‘Tom Courtenay’. Listen HERE

Read the full essay below or at the Revisionist History page HERE.
“I was born on May 2, 1995, the day that Electr-o-pura came out.

Fourteen years later, I started high school and made a new friend who wore a leather jacket and boots, who expressed confident opinions about music that I had never heard. I devoured every recommendation they gave me in an effort to align my tastes. I wanted to be cool, or at least not uncool. I found out about The Stooges, Philip Glass, and Sonic Youth through my effort to win their approval. I loved it all, and my parents hated every new discovery. Cool was loud.

One day my friend brought me a stack of CDs, all Yo La Tengo, and told me to take them home, listen to them, burn them, and return them. I did what I was told. I liked those records from the start, and more with every listen. I’d lay in bed listening to one of their records, pause the song I was listening to when I got too tired, then push play upon waking.

I remember my confusion upon listening to Electr-o-pura for the first time. I referenced the tracklist on the back of the CD so I could learn titles, but the printed song durations didn’t match up to what I was hearing. I wondered if there was some manufacturing error and I wasn’t hearing the songs I was supposed to hear. “Flying Lesson (Hot Chicken #1)” is listed as lasting just over three minutes when it’s actually 6:42. “Blue Line Swinger” says it’s 3:15, but actually clocks in at 9:18. I know now from looking into it that Yo La Tengo intentionally misprinted the times, trying to combat short attention spans, hoping they would trick people into giving those long songs a chance. It tricked me, though I’m a sucker for long songs anyways. It’s interesting to think about how this move couldn’t be pulled today in a world of digitized music. And if people had short attention spans then, how short are they now? All to say, I liked that they were playful.

What kept me coming back to Yo La Tengo was their understanding of moods. I listened to bands that knew anger, bands that knew sadness, but I didn’t know of any other bands that could express a full life’s range of moods the way they can. From song to song, the music was anxious, celebratory, sorrowful, content, confused, etc. And even when they got loud or dissonant, it never felt hostile. The sounds could be harsh, even ugly, but they were joyful. Some songs could make me cry, but they were gentle, not malevolent. I was taking on someone else’s tastes, and in the process, discovering my own.

Tom Courtenay was the first Yo La Tengo song I learned on guitar. I didn’t know what it meant, but I knew who Julie Christie was and loved the line, “As the music swells somehow stronger from adversity / our hero finds his inner peace.” I didn’t know what the needle had to do with anything, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was like any good poem, leaving space for me, between images. Now, I think the song may be about obsession with media, equating the allure of the movies and movie stars to drug addiction. Who knows, that’s just my take.

Eventually when Matador asked to sign me, the fact that Yo La Tengo is on their roster was a major component of my decision. They’ve been putting out great albums every couple of years for over three decades, experimenting and exploring with what seems to be an uncompromised creativity. That is worth celebrating, especially now, when any opportunity for celebration is a blessing. Happy 25th birthday to Electr-o-pura, and thanks for the music, Yo La Tengo.”

The new reissue serves as the third entry in the 2020 edition of Matador Records’ Revisionist History series, following the previously announced special edition release of Guided by Voices’ Alien Lanes and a limited edition, three-song shaped disc in honor of Pavement’s Wowee Zowee. Over the course of the year, Matador will mark anniversaries for some of the most celebrated releases in its catalogue with new reissues and re-pressings. With each release accompanying rare live footage, photos, music videos and more will also be shared. Full list of anniversaries below.

April 4, 1995 — GUIDED BY VOICESAlien Lanes — 25th anniversary

April 11, 1995 — PAVEMENT Wowee Zowee — 25th anniversary

May 2, 1995 — YO LA TENGOElectr-O-Pura — 25th anniversary 

Anniversary releases for CHAVEZ’sGone GlimmeringBAILTER SPACE’sWammo, and MARY TIMONY’sMountains to follow later this year. 

For more information on Revisionist History, visit:

(* – Matador would be remiss if they didn’t mention that Electr-o-pura also marks the first nods to Nashville’s fried chicken palace Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack with Flying Lesson (Hot Chicken #1) and Don’t Say A Word (Hot Chicken #2). The Yo La Tengo tradition would continue with “Return To Hot Chicken” on 1997’s I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One but more on that in 2022 with their inevitable Revisionist History2022 series.)

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