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They’ve re-released classics, rarities and hitherto unheard masterpieces by some of the greatest musicians to have graced our stereos, and picked up Grammy nominations for their work. Without the boss’ stint on student radio, however, they might never have existed. Wyndham Wallace meets the man who switched on Light In The Attic


Sveated on a sofa in his Los Angeles off ce, Light In the Attic’s Matt Sullivan is battling to talk over the noise of traffic when, suddenly, he leaps up and heads to the stereo. It’s not, however, to put on one of the many LPs piled up around the room. Instead, he pulls a picture off the wall.

“I just framed this”, he grins excitedly. “It’s the cover of my high school Trapper Keeper”, a brand of folder favoured through the 1980s by American high school students for their homework. “I wrote the names of my favourite bands: Yo La Tengo, Jane’s Addiction… Look! Acetone’s on here!”

Finding the name of a forgotten early 1990s Californian act might not seem exciting if it weren’t that last autumn – 25 years after Acetone formed, and 16 after their bassist took his life, provoking the band’s split – the label Sullivan founded in 2002 released a compilation, Acetone 1992–2001. The Verve’s Richard Ashcroft, Spiritualized’s Jason Pierce and Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval endorsed the release with superlatives, while gushing reviews confirmed the validity of the enthusiasm that first led Sullivan to scribble the name on his binder.

Moreover, that 16-track collection – which also featured nine previously unreleased recordings – helped not only to revivify established fans of Acetone’s cruelly curtailed career, but also brought the act to a new audience. This summer, the band’s remaining members united – alongside two musicians with whom they’ve recently formed another project – to perform at London’s Barbican, something unthinkable a year earlier. But this is what Light In the Attic specialise in: illuminating music’s dark, neglected corners, reminding people about lost classics and encouraging them to reevaluate overlooked gems.

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