10 Best Reissues of the Year
1. LED ZEPPELIN
1. LED ZEPPELIN
DVD and How the West Was Won (Atlantic) LikeNirvana andRage Against the Machine, these golden gods begat asorry parade of copycats. But forget that — what’s amazingabout this archival bounty is how the band rocks even harder thanyou remember. The double-disc DVD is mainly 1970’s RoyalAlbert Hall concert footage, wiry boys in hipster street clothes(except for Jimmy Page, who sports an argyle sweater-vest) playingtheir massive mutant blues to one another as if the audienceweren’t even there. How the West Was Won is threediscs culled from two 1972 SoCal concerts. It’s Zep at theirpeak, still loose enough to turn “Whole Lotta Love”into a 23-minute oldies medley, not yet bored with their first fourLPs. Even “Stairway to Heaven,” God help us, feelsfresh-picked.
Live Box (One Little Indian) On this five-disc joymachine, the script gets flipped and stays that way: “Human Behaviour”and “Venus as a Boy” accompanied only by harpsichord, “One Day”arranged for gamelan ensemble, tabla, and tuba. Not everything here isso radical, but almost all the performances infuse Bjork’s music withfresh ideas, and that bit about “emotional landscapes” from “Joga”still bristles our neck hairs every time.
3. TALKING HEADS
Once in a Lifetime (Sire) The two-CD Sand in the Vaselinefrom 1992 was just too short; this four-disc best-of nails it and willhopefully remind today’s skinny, white New York funk-rock bands thatsongs matter. It includes weird alternate takes of “Cities” and”Drugs,” plus a version of “Artists Only” with some Al Green-stylehorns that were lost en route to the band’s cover of “Take Me to theRiver.” Disc four collects all the videos — a major part of the story.
4. NEIL YOUNG
On the Beach and American Stars ‘N Bars (Reprise) On the Beach (1974) is depressed Young: hating most everyone, watching the ’60s dream wash out to sea, grimly blissful nonetheless. Stars ‘N Bars(1977) is boozy alt country; it’s got two of his most gorgeous ballads(“Star of Bethlehem” and “Will to Love”), the gale-force “Like aHurricane,” and a ditty lauding DIY farming (“Homegrown”). The man’swords were always prescient.
5. NEW ORDER
Retro (Rhino/Warner Bros.) They didn’t have the juiciest roles in 24 Hour Party People,but they cut the best singles and inspired the best DJ remixes, and theproof is all here. The somber, early post-?Joy Division stuff and thelive disc are less essential but tasty enough, and the package bylongtime design collaborator Peter Saville is clean, elegant, weirdomodernism — much like the music.
6. THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND
At Fillmore East (Deluxe Edition) (Mercury) Anexpanded classic, gathering pieces of a two-night stand previouslyscattered across five separate releases. Duane Allman was dead beforethe 1971 double-LP was a year old, but his alternately bloozy andhard-tripping bottleneck-slide leads are for the ages. The 56-minutetag team of “Whipping Post” and “Mountain Jam” is a redneck-rainbowlove-in.
7. MILES DAVIS
The Complete Jack Johnson Sessions (Sony Legacy) Fivesprawling discs that find the jazz trumpeter under the influence ofJimi Hendrix’s noise, of Sly Stone’s funk, of the era’s bad-tripcraziness. Far raunchier than the better-known 1969 fusion blueprint Bitches Brew,these 1970 sessions yielded skronking jams that would surface on Davis’records for years to come, not to mention grooves deep enough towarrant an MC.
8. APHEX TWIN
26 Mixes for Cash (Warp) Richard D. James is possiblythe crankiest man in electronica, but he has released somebrain-melting music, much of it available only as remixes on obscure12-inch singles. Geffen Records refused to license “Richard’sHairpiece,” James’ freaky tweaking of Beck’s “Devil’s Haircut.” But youdo get two “remixes” of Nine Inch Nails tracks that James claims henever heard, a vivisection of David Bowie’s “Heroes,” and otheroverhauls that suggest electronica’s best hedge against irrelevance maybe a rock-remix revival.
Marquee Moon (Rhino/Elektra) To clear up confusionsown by people who claim the Strokes sound like this gang of ’70s punkromantics, listen to “Venus” or “Friction” or “See No Evil” or “MarqueeMoon” — not to mention the epic, long-lost single “Little Johnny Jewel(Parts 1 & 2)” — and get back to us when Nick Valensi and AlbertHammond Jr. start playing guitar like this.
10. THE MOLES
On the Street/Rare & Weird (WishingTree) An early-’90s alt-rock blip from Sydney, Australia, the Moles released a great lost album (Untune the Sky)before frontman Richard Davies went solo and pastoral. This best-ofcaptures his band when they were art punks drunk on pop andpsychedelia. “What’s the New Mary Jane” deserves a Spiritualized cover,while the newspaper cutup “With Body Wifes Seven Days” helpfully notes:”Cats prepare for World War Three / Death love orgy LSD!”