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The Smiths

Complete

(Rhino; US: 18 Oct 2011; UK: 26 Sep 2011)

Review [20.Oct.2011]

10



The Smiths
Complete


The Smiths’ music has been repackaged many times since the 1980s, but so often those releases have disassociated the songs from their original context, leading to legions of music fans who think they know the Smiths’ music but have never actually sat down and listened to all of their albums in order, an experience that gives a greater understanding of the musical, cultural and lyrical impact of the band, not to mention the variety in their distinctive sound. This boxset, whether the eight-CD version that normal folk can actually afford or the more elaborate vinyl version, gives everyone that chance. Critics have balked at the supposed completeness of this, as they did record a handful of songs that aren’t here, but as far as most music fans are concerned, having all of the band’s proper studio albums and singles compilations in one place is exciting, and does give a really close to complete picture of the Smiths. Dave Heaton


 

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Mickey Newbury

An American Trilogy

(Drag City; US: 23 Aug 2011; UK: 18 Jul 2011)

Review [10.Nov.2011]

9



Mickey Newbury
An American Trilogy


Astonishingly ageless in compositional and conceptual beauty, Drag City’s reissue of Mickey Newbury’s trilogy of masterpiece albums from 1969 to 1973 is a treasure trove that still stands as the gold standard body of work from Nashville’s quintessential songwriter’s songwriter. 1969’s Looks Like Rain is the delicate, heartsick song cycle connected by thundershower sound effects; 1971’s ‘Frisco Mabel Joy is the affecting and shadowy emotional journey that opens with the box set’s title song, which Elvis would later bring to Vegas; 1973’s Heaven Help the Child is the reflective set of perfect country and folk numbers. Each gets its own spotless remastered LP here, and the CD set comes with a fourth disc of outtakes and lost tracks. All told, it’s an indispensible collection that lays bare the pen, the voice, and the soul from which every Waylon, Roger, and Townes would soon follow. Steve Leftridge


 

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Suede

Suede / Dog Man Star / Coming Up (Deluxe Reissues)

(US: 27 Jun 2011; UK: 30 May 2011)

8



Suede
Suede / Dog Man Star / Coming Up (Deluxe Reissues)


It’s tempting to recall Suede as a flash-in-the-pan that burned brightly with a brief but remarkable run of some of the ‘90s best singles—especially “Metal Mickey”—before seeming to fade away. But this year’s deluxe reissues of Suede’s first three full-lengths set the record straight about a band that had a lot more lasting power than you might remember. While 1993’s self-titled debut remains a seminal document of its time and still the must-have of the bunch just for the singles, the elaborate Dog Man Star (1994) and the glammy Coming Up (1996) have perhaps aged even better: In particular, Dog Man Star feels a lot like the most Romantic album of the Britpop era, with Brett Anderson hamming it up in his role as a Gen-X Shelley or Lord Byron. With each of the original recordings appended with excellent between album efforts, a-side-quality b-sides, and demos of the best songs, these reissues speak to a legacy of a band that wasn’t just preternaturally gifted, but one that put a lot of work into perfecting and polishing its craft. Arnold Pan


 

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Queen

Reissues (complete catalogue, 15 full-lengths)

(Island; US: 2011)

7



Queen
Reissues (complete catalogue, 15 full-lengths)


This year was the 40th anniversary for Queen, a band that, believe it or not, was quite the swaggering rock outfit, albeit one infused with plenty of playfulness, before endless compilations, fuddy-duddy hobnobbing and imprudent reunions sullied its reputation. To honor that momentous date, and to pay reverence to the 20th anniversary of legendary frontman Freddie Mercury’s death, the band reissued its full-length catalogue in 2011. With each album supplemented by outtakes and live tracks the remastered discs sound fantastic, with a clarity that reaffirms the luxurious pop heart that lurked amongst all that bombastic multilayered tomfoolery. So often ignored by po-faced critics, the reissuing succinctly illustrates why the band has sold umpteen million albums. With the majority of tracks never appearing on any compilation, the reissues are a golden opportunity to rediscover Queen’s pompous and unabashed eccentricity. Craig Hayes


 

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Talk Talk

Laughing Stock

(Ba Da Bing; US: 11 Oct 2011)

6



Talk Talk
Laughing Stock


By 1991, grunge was about to take over rock radio, and the New Romantics hits of the early ‘80s (Duran Duran, Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark) seemed a distant memory. On their last album together, the one-time synthpop hitmakers strayed about as far as possible from either camp and wrote a difficult, left-field post-rock album that’s since been lauded as a critical masterpiece. In October 2011, Ba Da Bing! Records (home to indie bands like Beirut) re-issued the six-track album on vinyl for the first time in the US. The reissue is without any bonus material or additional tracks, though it’s not as if they were needed. Chris Payne


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