The Reissue Section: Winter 2021
The best reissues of the past few months
While it’s been a challenge for bands to collaborate in person over the last year, archival releases have been booming. And over the course of this first quarter, lots of goodies have dropped. Here are some of the most worthy entries in the reissue world.
Vol. 4 Deluxe Edition (Rhino)
Heaven and Hell Deluxe Edition (Rhino)
Mob Rules Deluxe Edition (Rhino)
What we have here are three essential Black Sabbath albums from two distinctly different periods in the band’s timeline.
1972’s Vol. 4 is renowned mostly for the hedonism and drug use that went down during the album’s creation in Los Angeles. But nearly 50 years later, it stands as the creative pinnacle of the Ozzy era. By bringing the production duties in-house, the original lineup of Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward enjoyed the freedom to make the album they wanted, culminating in this heavy haze of cocaine psychedelia punctuated by detours into English folk, modal jazz and plaintive balladry on the album’s biggest hit “Changes.” Additionally, the implementation of synths to their sound helped set the template for bands like Faith No More, Deftones and even Nine Inch Nails. (Trent Reznor famously covered “Supernaut” alongside Ministry’s Al Jourgensen as 1000 Homo DJs.) This deluxe edition of Vol. 4 is loaded with bonus material: six previously unreleased studio tracks, alternate takes and killer live cuts from the band’s March 1973 UK promotional tour for Vol. 4.
Produced back-to-back by the late Martin Birch, 1980’s Heaven and Hell and 1981’s Mob Rules are indeed a perfect pair, the knockout combination that introduced former Rainbow and Elf frontman Ronnie James Dio as the band’s new singer. And by replacing the graceful groan of Ozzy with RJD’s operatic growl, Black Sabbath reintroduced themselves in a bolder, more direct approach, as clearly indicated in both hit title tracks. These new deluxe editions find Heaven and Hell annexed with a live show from 1980 in Hartford, Connecticut, while Mob Rules features a full 1982 concert from Portland, Oregon. Both titles include tracks from the super out-of-print 2007 Rhino Handmade collection Black Sabbath: Live at Hammersmith Odeon.
Stage Fright 50th Anniversary Edition (UMe)
Though it may not be as renowned as its predecessors, Music From Big Pink and The Band, 1970’s Stage Fright is arguably just as important to the evolution of this great North American lineup. Recorded in an empty Woodstock Playhouse, where The Band had been workshopping new material in front of audiences, Stage Fright is masterful in its relaxed confidence. Overseen by guitarist and chief songwriter Robbie Robertson, with a new stereo mix by the eternal Bob Clearmountain, this new 50th Anniversary box set includes a complete June 1971 performance at London’s Royal Albert Hall. Additionally, it features the mythical Calgary Hotel Recordings from 1970, which found Robertson, Danko and Manuel jamming on seven Stage Fright cuts late into the night on the final stop of the Festival Express Tour.
Turning On 10th Anniversary Edition (Carpark)
The year 2011 seems like forever ago, especially in the lifespan of quality indie-pop. One of the brightest talents of that halcyon year was Dylan Baldi, who at 18 recorded his debut LP, Turning On, by himself in his parent’s basement. Upon its initial release, young Baldi’s firm grasp on pop songwriting–coupled with the long-standing Ohio tradition of lo-fi life a la Bill Fox and Guided By Voices – helped make Cloud Nothings a hit in the then-fertile music blogosphere. Ten years later, the band endured as a full ensemble, a new album, The Shadow I Remember, out on Feb. 26. But this vinyl reissue of Turning On, with beautiful new album art and pressed on Westlake Blue wax, is proof that whether he’s 18 or 28, Dylan Baldi has always harbored chops enough to be one of the very best pop auteurs of his generation.
Iggy and The Stooges
From K.O. to Chaos (Skydog-MVD)
Billed as “the last ever Stooges show” upon its initial release in 1976, Metallic K.O. was sourced from two violent and unpredictable shows on Oct. 6, 1973 and Feb. 9, 1974 at the Michigan Palace in Detroit. It ranks among the most notorious live albums in existence. This eight-CD box set expands upon the meticulously remastered original album with complete performances of both shows on separate discs and two CDs worth of rarities spanning 1972 to 1991 (including three songs from a 1983 session with Ric Ocasek). Additionally, there’s the Acoustics KO audio/video set rooted in the Brick By Brick/American Caesar era and a complete live performance of the reunited Stooges in Japan from March 22, 2004. From K.O. to Chaos hits harder than a biker punch to Iggy’s face at the end of the band’s notorious cover of “Louie, Louie.”
Within A Few Degrees (Lagoonside Pictures-Light In The Attic)
Seven years ago, Light in the Attic reintroduced us to Memphis singer-songwriter Bob Frank and his eponymous Vanguard Records LP, originally released in 1972 and a deep collectors favorite that bridged the gap between Phil Ochs and Townes Van Zandt. Sadly, after retiring from a long career in the City of Oakland’s parks department and enjoying a career pickup from the reissue (including a gig at the fabled San Francisco club McCabe’s), Frank died in 2019 following a short battle with pancreatic cancer. But in the months leading up to his passing, he entrusted his archive of music to his friend, filmmaker Isaac Pingree, the best of which can be heard on Within A Few Degrees, a nice-priced three-disc set containing two CDs of unreleased demos and a DVD containing a feature-length documentary filmed by Pingree just before Frank’s death.
Richard Hell and the Voidoids
Destiny Street Complete (Omnivore)
The second and final studio LP by NYC punk pioneer Richard Hell and his band the Voidoids was released in 1982 and has gone through its fair share of alterations. Now for the first time, under the auspices of Hell himself, we get the complete story of Destiny Street in all of its variations, including the original album, the 2009 “repaired” version and a new 2021 edition culled from the recently discovered 24-track masters. There’s also the album in demo version as well, which features original Voidoids drummer Mark Bell and original guitarist Ivan Julian (who was replaced by Naux by the time Destiny was recorded). And though it’s quite interesting to get the entire evolution of this lost classic of the NYC rock era together in one package, it’s the new mix–produced by Hell with assistance from Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist Nick Zinner–that fully articulates the artist’s quintessential intentions for these songs.
1970: The Collection (Columbia-Legacy)
On Dec. 4, 2020, Bob Dylan released a super limited run of the 1970 edition of his copyright extension series. They were gone in an hour, leaving fans to return to their old bootleg copies of Almost Went to See Elvis or Spot the Looney to get a fix of that mythical May 1 studio hang with George Harrison where they jammed on Everly Brothers tunes. But thanks to the power of popular demand, Columbia-Legacy is serving up this three-disc set, which includes the complete May 1 session alongside several outtakes from the classic Dylan albums Self Portrait and New Morning. Those gems include alternate versions of such Zimmerman faves as “One Too Many Mornings,” “Gates of Eden” and “Mama, You Been On My Mind.”
Shawn-Neeq (Black Jazz-Real Gone)
Spring Rain (Black Jazz-Real Gone)
Now in its 10th year, Gordon Anderson’s Real Gone imprint continues to deliver quality archival releases at an almost breakneck pace. And their ongoing reissue campaign for Gene Russell’s Black Jazz Records imprint, which focused on the revolutionary side of the jazz universe during the Civil Rights and Vietnam eras, remains amongst the most treasured titles in their deep catalog. Both originally released in 1971 and are supplemented by informative liners by reissue czar Pat Thomas.
Originally released on March 7, 2000, the solo debut from Helium’s Mary Timony was snarkily dismissed by Pitchfork contributor Brent DiCresenzo in his 4.7 review of Mountains: “There are few more stigmatized genres in art than fantasy. Airbrushings of buxom valkyries heaving halberds take up no space at MOMA.” As part of Matador’s ongoing Revisionist History vinyl reissue series, now is the chance for people to appreciate this unsung indie rock treasure. The LP chronicles the singer’s slow emergence from a deep depression by interweaving her loves for the medieval and the modern, and it’s only gotten better with age. Remastered by Bob Weston, Mountains has been reconfigured in a two-disc gold foil-embossed gatefold LP, expanded to include previously unreleased original takes of “Return to Pirates,” “Poison Moon,” and “Killed by the Telephone,” plus a new orchestral version of “Valley of One Thousand Perfumes,” produced by Russian Doll composer Joe Wong and mixed by Dave Fridmann.
Welcome 2 Detroit — The 20th Anniversary Edition (BBE Music)
When J Dilla released his debut solo LP, little did we know we’d be losing him four years later to lupus. Welcome 2 Detroit doubled as the first release in BBE’s acclaimed Beat Generation series, which included other early millennium hip-hop classics like Pete Rock’s Petestrumentals and will.i.am’s slept-on solo LP Loose Change. Now those who might have written off the artist formerly known as Jay Dee’s skills on the mic upon this album’s release in 2001 can atone for their sins with this magnificent anniversary edition of Welcome 2 Detroit, reconfigured as a deluxe seven-inch vinyl box set. It boasts instrumentals, two brand-new interpretations by Azymuth and DJ Muro, previously unreleased alternative mixes and studio outtakes pressed over a dozen 45s. Making the release even sweeter is that it arrives during #DillaMonth in celebration of his birthday.
Elvis Costello and the Attractions
Armed Forces: Deluxe Edition (UMe)
Released on a limited basis over the holiday season, this super-stacked, vinyl-only edition of Armed Forces is the first release from the latest overhaul of Elvis Costello’s back catalog (which has been reissued at least four times already in the last 30 years). Spread across nine slabs of wax, this definitive version of AF not only includes a new remaster of the Nick Lowe-produced original LP but a trove of rarities. Those include previously unreleased live sets from the 1979 Pinkpop Festival, The Regents Theatre in Sydney, Australia in 1978 as well as a Christmas Eve performance at London’s Dominion Theatre from that same year. There’s also a 10-inch of studio easter eggs called Sketches For Emotional Fascism, and a trio of 7-inches that include the singles for “Oliver’s Army” and “Accidents Will Happen,” as well as the coveted American Squirm EP by Nick Lowe and His Sound. Regardless of how many prior editions you might have picked up through the years, this latest version of Armed Forces renders all its predecessors obsolete.
The Highlights (XO-Republic)
Since his emergence from the Canadian R&B scene in 2010, The Weeknd has established a formidable discography worthy of a greatest hits package only a decade into his career. The Highlights, sadly, does the artist a great disservice with this lopsided, slapdash collection created solely as an advertisement for his meme-inducing performance at the Superbowl LV halftime show. Ten tracks are strictly dedicated to two albums (2015’s Beauty Behind the Madness and last year’s blockbuster After Hours), while The Highlights eschews the likes of Thursday, Echoes of Silence and Kiss Land altogether. You can make a more comprehensive tracklist on Spotify. Abel Tesfaye deserves better.
The Black Crowes
Shake Your Money Maker: Super Deluxe Edition (UMe)
Like the Stones’ England’s Newest Hitmakers or the first Allman Brothers Band album, the Black Crowes made far better records than their 1990 debut. But that’s exactly what makes it such a joy to revisit, to revel in the original flavor that the Robinson Brothers offered as an earthy AOR-reared alternative to the Hair Nation of the late ‘80s. This visually rich super-deluxe edition of Money Maker includes all the B-sides like their covers of Humble Pie’s “30 Days In The Hole” and John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy,” plus an acoustic version of “She Talks To Angels” that arguably exceeds the original album version. There’s also a trio of previously unheard studio recordings, unreleased demos from the group’s Mr. Crowe’s Garden era, and a full 1990 live album from Atlanta. It’s augmented with such eye candy as a Mr. Crowe’s Garden show flyer, setlist, tour laminate, patch and a book teeming with unseen photos from the band’s personal archives and liner notes by legendary rock critic David Fricke.
Solid State Logik 1 1988 – 1991
Come Down Dawn
For those of us who came of age in the early ‘90s, “3 AM Eternal” by The KLF was inescapable. It was in the clubs, on the radio, piped through the sound system of the Chess King at the local mall. Thirty years later, some of these same kids warmly and humbly welcome the groundbreaking UK duo’s surprise return to the public eye with the release of two new collections available on all streaming services. Solid State Logik 1 1988-1991 contains remastered versions of eight KLF rave faves, including “Doctorin’ The Tardis,” the Tammy Wynette hit collaboration “Justified and Ancient” and “America: What Time Is Love?” in addition to “3 AM,” which reappears as a hardcore punk song in this set as well. Come Down Dawn is the duo’s ambient masterpiece Chill Out with all of the uncleared samples removed. But even without the snippets of Van Halen, Elvis Presley and Pink Floyd interwoven throughout this late-night journey across an imagined America, and regardless of its title, it remains the apex of this partnership between King Boy D and Rockman Rock.
Film Music 1976 – 2020 (UMe)
When Brian Eno crafted Music For Films in 1978, he created soundtracks for movies that only existed in his imagination. But for the last 50-plus years, he’s made music for actual movies as well, starting with Malcolm Le Grice’s auteur short Berlin Horse. This new compilation is a fine highlight reel of his work on celluloid that includes “Prophecy Theme” from David Lynch’s Dune, “Late Evening In Jersey” from Michael Mann’s Heat, “Under” from Ralph Bakshi’s Cool World and an understated cover of William Bell’s soul classic “You Don’t Miss Your Water,” which was featured on the soundtrack to Jonathan Demme’s Married to the Mob. BBC crime show fans will recognize the theme to the East London series Top Boy, while anyone who endured the grossness of Renton’s dip into a dirty toilet in Trainspotting can certainly never forget “Deep Blue Day.”