The 25 Best Re-Issues of 2011

[30 November 2011]

By PopMatters Staff


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Material Issue

International Pop Overthrow (20th Anniversary Edition)

(Hip-O Select; US: 5 Apr 2011)

25

Material Issue
International Pop Overthrow (20th Anniversary Edition)

It was the spring of 1991 and the word “grunge” had yet to enter the American lexicon and in the midst of musical heaviness from the likes of the Pixies and Sonic Youth came Material Issue blazing out of Chicago. With their debut, International Pop Overthrow, they proved that power-pop was still alive and strong. The yearning lyrics of the dearly departed Jim Ellison were some of the best lyrics heard in alternative rock in a long while. Songs like “Valerie Loves Me”, “Renee Remains the Same” and “Trouble” are still some of the greatest alt-rock songs ever. To celebrate the album’s 20th anniversary and to mourn the 15th anniversary of Ellison’s suicide, the album has been remastered and expanded with half a dozen bonus tracks, including two previously unreleased cuts. This album sounds as amazing as it did 20 years ago and that’s not something you can say about many alternative rock records. Pete Crigler

 


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Primal Scream

Screamadelica (Kevin Shields Remaster)

(Sony; US: 29 Mar 2011; UK: 14 Mar 2011)

24

Primal Scream
Screamadelica (Kevin Shields Remaster)

Bobby G is a naughty, naughty wizard and he knows how to conjure a most potent voodoo hoodoo—pouring all his righteous Dionysian deities into a bloody big cauldron, then cranking up the gas and watching the fireworks. In 1991, when ‘Funtime Bobby’ and his merry pranksters pulled up on the driveway in their big red magic bus with the molten smiley face on the front, they brought da ruckus. “Destination: Furthur” and whacked on disco biscuits ‘n’ dry ice, Screamadelica remains their highest hour. It’s the greatest mixtape your best friend never gave you. A celebration of wanted poster outlaws—the Stones, King Tubby, Kraftwerk, Big Star, MC5 and PIL—all blurring into one, hypnotically blissed out one minute, menacingly grabbing your lapel the next. A whipsmart, ecstatic celebration of everything that’s dirty, dangerous and delicious about rock ‘n’ roll. Matt James

 


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The Jayhawks

Tomorrow the Green Grass

(American/Legacy; US: 18 Jan 2011; UK: 17 Jan 2011)

23

The Jayhawks
Tomorrow the Green Grass

Tomorrow The Green Grass epitomizes the Jayhawks: beautiful vocal harmonies, poignant and sometimes funny lyrics, exquisite musicianship. The original album is wall-to-wall classics, whether “Blue”, “Two Hearts” or the salute to Jayhawk Marc Olson’s then future and now-ex wife, Victoria Williams (“Miss Williams’ Guitar”). This is a band that has a seemingly inexhaustible vault of previously unreleased material as evidenced by the inclusion of a second disc featuring the oft-bootlegged Mystery Demos. These are tracks from main songwriters Gary Louris and Marc Olson circa 1992 that are often as good as (and sometimes maybe a little better than) anything on the main album. Add in a few period b-sides, including “Last Cigarette”, featuring vocals from keyboardist Karen Grotberg, and you have one of those rare reissues that surpasses the original classic album. Jedd Beaudoin

 


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The Rolling Stones

Some Girls (Deluxe Edition)

(Universal; US: 21 Nov 2011; UK: 21 Nov 2011)

22

The Rolling Stones
Some Girls (Deluxe Edition)

In 1977, the Stones were backed against the wall and knew they had to take action. Disco was still king, punk rock was in vogue, and neither style best suited the venerable, English blues-rock band. The band put all their cards on the table, holed up in a French studio, and got back to basics. The result was Some Girls, ten tracks of dirty, blistering, aggressive rock and roll gems that hearkened back to the early days of the Stones, when they were a ragged and hungry outfit, rocking out night after night on their road to stardom. This year’s reissue offers a punched up version of the original album, plus a 12-track bonus disc of unreleased material. Both discs offer an illustration of a band at its rediscovered peak, eager to get down to the business of reclaiming their place as rock and roll titans, a title they have achieved and maintained in the resulting years. Jeff Strowe

 


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John Fahey

Your Past Comes Back to Haunt You: The Fonotone Years (1958-1965)

(Dust to Digital; US: 11 Oct 2011)

21

John Fahey
Your Past Comes Back to Haunt You: The Fonotone Years (1958-1965)

This massive five-disc, 115-song box set compiles John Fahey’s earliest recordings for Fonotone Records before he went on to record his most seminal work for the Tacoma label. For newbies ready to start wading into the rich catalog of one of the most influential artists of the past century, this is probably not the place to start. The earliest recordings here are crude and clumsy, to say the least. Fahey, who didn’t want this material released in his lifetime because he hadn’t yet developed his skills, provided the title of the box set telling Glenn Jones, who oversaw the project, “Boy, your past really comes back to haunt you!” That being said, if you’re like me and enjoy a good expedition, the rewards are running over throughout this collection. It’s extraordinary hearing this self-taught American Primitavist, as he fashioned himself, mutate from a gauche novice to a fiercely inventive boundary expanding eccentric who combined traditional blues, country, folk, dissonance and Indian ragas. This set takes us right to the precipice of what Fahey would become, and it’s a fascinating journey. The significance of Fahey’s influence cannot be overstated. Bill See

20 - 16


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The Books

Thought for Food / The Lemon of Pink / Lost and Safe

(Temporary Residence; US: 2011)

20

The Books
Thought for Food / The Lemon of Pink / Lost and Safe

From their chance meeting in their shared apartment building in New York, guitarist and vocalist Nick Zammuto and cellist Paul de Jong have gone on to release some of the most intriguing and original American music of the 21st century. Their genre-defying electroacoustic output, described as collage music by Zammuto, earned them fans in Prefuse 73 and Portishead, who themselves were at the forefront of the glitch-hop and trip-hop genres respectively. Originals drawn to originals: that speaks volumes to the caliber of their musicianship and artistic vision, lovingly reconstituting and repurposing obscure speech pulled from self-help VHS tapes and charity shop cassettes to fit with their typically drum-less ethereality. 2010’s The Way Out was the duo’s first album in five years, and first for Temporary Residence. With Zammuto then focusing on forming another band, the time was prime for a re-visitation of their catalogue. All of their albums—2002’s Thought for Food, 2003’s The Lemon of Pink, and 2005’s Lost and Safe—were lovingly remastered, given remixed cover art, and pressed to gloriously colored vinyl. Together, the albums mark a clear trajectory, from their sparser, amateurish roots of discovery to the full development of their sound and A/V presentation today. Alan Ranta

 


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Peter Tosh

Legalize It / Equal Rights (Legacy Editions)

(Columbia/Legacy; US: 21 Jun 2011)

19

Peter Tosh
Legalize It / Equal Rights (Legacy Editions)

You can argue over the merits of reissues, especially when they’re packed with bonus material, but you need only look at these two Tosh collections to see how well these things can be done. Nevermind that the two original albums are classics, must-haves for any music fan, but these new editions aren’t about packing all the extras in they can, it’s about telling the stories behind these records. Legalize It is padded with demos and the original Jamaican tapes, and in them we see the struggle Tosh went through to find his artistic vision, to craft his confident and nearly perfect debut album. Equal Rights, the album that followed, was a more wide-open and creative time for him, where new ideas constantly flowed, and the glut of non-album tracks—tracks as strong as anything on the album—show Tosh at his creative peak. It’s an immense collection, but it almost feels like a new, double album, one without a weak link to be found. Meanwhile, Legalize It takes on new energy with the early versions scattered around its periphery. To reissue two of the most important reggae records ever, you’ve got to get it right. It’s got to be about the music, not about digging into our pockets. Here, these reissues focus on the former, and leave it to us to do the latter. Which we will, gladly, to hear these two brilliant stories told. Matthew Fiander

 


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Manic Street Preachers

National Treasures: The Complete Singles

(Columbia; UK: 8 Nov 2011)

18

Manic Street Preachers
National Treasures: The Complete Singles

I should’ve known they’d be trouble. They were too perfect. They looked like Duran Duran but sounded, as Fidel Castro (yes that one) once noted, “Louder than War!” Four starved, kohl-eyed waifs born from “rubble and shit”, with a mission impossible and nothing to lose. A mission to mix a Molotov cocktail from the incendiary intellect of Chuck D, the hungry heart of Jack Kerouac and the volatile venom of Johnny Rotten. From the first shot they purposefully polarised opinion; heroes or villains, love or hate. With their manifesto carved (often literally) in blood, they vowed to unleash one all conquering album and then set fire to themselves live on Top of the Pops. The crazy, beautiful bastards. Two decades later and National Treasures tells the unbelievable true story of one of rock ‘n’ roll’s most charismatic, literate, soulful and gloriously unique bands. A word of caution though, they may just break your heart but hey, love hurts. Matt James

 


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Nick Cave

Let Love In / Murder Ballads / The Boatman’s Call / No More Shall We Part

(Mute; US: 17 May 2011; UK: 16 May 2011)

17

Nick Cave
Let Love In / Murder Ballads / The Boatman’s Call / No More Shall We Part

Maturity—that dreaded fate of classic rockers and Australian post-punk goth-poets alike—was good to Nick Cave. Between 1993 and 2001, the evocative Bad Seed-in-chief evolved from an aging post-punk veteran still addicted to heroin to an untouchable elder statesmen of the darker side of rock, an internationally respected artist whose songs were just as likely to appear in Dumb and Dumber (“Red Right Hand”) and at Michael Hutchence’s funeral (“Into My Arms”) as in seedy Berlin nightclubs like the one featured in Wings of Desire. Out of this period came two shimmering masterpieces: Let Love In, a fabulously produced tour-de-force of high-drama love songs including a number of outright career classics (“Do You Love Me?”, “Loverman”, “Red Right Hand”, “Lay Me Low”), and The Boatman’s Call, an achingly emotional collection of piano ballads inspired by Cave’s intense affair (and subsequent breakup) with PJ Harvey. Murder Ballads (an apt title if ever Cave has used one) and No More Shall We Part (a musically akin follow-up to Boatman’s Call) were no slackers either, and Mute has given all four the works here: full remastered recordings, 5.1 surround sound mixes on the attached DVD, b-sides, videos, and a short film by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard. Zach Schonfeld

 


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Sebadoh

Bakesale (Deluxe Edition)

(Sub Pop / Domino; US: 14 Jun 2011; UK: 11 Apr 2011)

16

Sebadoh
Bakesale (Deluxe Edition)

In 1994, Sebadoh finally arrived to the more mainstream indie rock crowd with its brightly polished and immediately accessible fifth album, Bakesale. The album did gangbusters for being on an upstart indie label—it reached the Top 40 of the UK album charts that year, and single “Skull” cracked the UK Top 100—and arguably increased the group’s fan base, even in their American homeland, as it largely eschewed the outré sonic collages and lo-fi acoustic fragments of previous albums. This year’s reissue only solidifies the fact that Bakesale is one of the most vital albums that emerged from the 1990s indie rock boom, complete with remastered takes on Lou Barlow’s relationship comeuppances such as “Rebound”, “Magnet’s Coil” and “Together or Alone” to name a few. Meanwhile, the added bonus material shows Sebadoh at their most unvarnished, allowing their more experimental tendencies to come to the fore. For those of us who came of age with this album, Bakesale is a generation’s security blanket: always worth revisiting and worth holding onto. As tightly as possible. Zachary Houle

15 - 11


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Mark Hollis

Mark Hollis

(Ba Da Bing; US: 11 Oct 2011)

15

Mark Hollis
Mark Hollis

Talk Talk were one of the more restless bands of the ‘80s, and after the seminal Spirit of Eden and still-jagged Laughing Stock albums, it’s impossible to say what direction they would have gone in if Mark Hollis and company had kept going. It’s hard to imagine them sounding like Mark Hollis, though. Recorded in 1998 to fulfill the end of a contract with Polydor, it sees Hollis pulling roughly the same trick Slowdive did with Pygmalion. But while that opaque, often glacially removed album was the result of focusing on the sparest, smallest parts of what was essentially a rock band, here Hollis does the same thing with two of the greatest, most unclassifiable records ever made. If the final Talk Talk records are the equivalent of gorgeous, impressionistic paintings of great beauty and occasional terror, Mark Hollis is the same thing rendered in the lightest, smallest strokes. You can hear other people playing on this record, but few works of music are this strikingly, gorgeously solitary. Ian Mathers

 


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R.E.M.

Lifes Rich Pageant (25th Anniversary Edition)

(Capitol; US: 12 Jul 2011; UK: 12 Jul 2011)

14

R.E.M.
Lifes Rich Pageant (25th Anniversary Edition)

Even if you weren’t in college when R.E.M.‘s Lifes Rich Pageant originally dropped, it sure felt like you were when Michael Stipe’s esoteric balderdash spilled out of your speakers. “Fall on Me” and a cover of the Clique’s “Superman” were the lone singles pulled from the collection, though the propulsive “These Days”, uncharacteristically straightforward “Cuyahoga” and oddly romantic “Swan Swan H” were among the many standouts. The reissue’s second disc is a treasure trove of demos recorded in Athens, Georgia before the band moved on to Indiana to record the album proper. While some of the music is already fully formed (“Fall on Me”), Stipe is often heard finding his way through melody and lyric. The demos are a fascinating look at a group on the precipice of stardom; they couldn’t possibly know what was waiting around the corner, but they sound ready, bristling with energy. Crispin Kott

 


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Nirvana

Nevermind: Deluxe Edition

(Universal/DGC; US: 27 Sep 2011; UK: 26 Sep 2011)

13

Nirvana
Nevermind: Deluxe Edition

It was only a matter of time until Nirvana’s Nevermind got the proper reissue treatment, and one can assume that this is only going to end up being the first in a long line of future commemorative Nevermind packages. But unlike many of the countless re-releases the music industry continues to force down consumers’ throats, this is a record that actually deserves the treatment. Case in point: The boom box version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” here that highlights lead man Kurt Cobain’s angst in a way that the end product simply couldn’t convey. The recording is so raw, his pain leaps directly out of the speakers and into any listener’s conscious, bad recording quality be damned. It’s not just touching. It’s scary. And that’s why this reissue was warranted and will continue to be warranted whenever the 25th, 30th and 50th anniversaries roll around. Nevermind is a timeless piece of art that completely changed the landscape of popular music. In an age when records are nearly extinct and rock music is in as much of a recession as the world’s economy, Nirvana could very well go down as the last rock and roll band ever to be considered a game-changer. One listen to this reissue and you’ll be reminded of exactly how hopeless the future can look.
Colin McGuire

 


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Miles Davis

LIVE in Europe 1967: The Bootleg Series Vol. 1

(Columbia/Legacy; US: 20 Sep 2011; UK: 26 Sep 2011)

12

Miles Davis
LIVE in Europe 1967: The Bootleg Series Vol. 1

If jazz stands as a sign of the times, no better work encapsulates the turbulence of 1967 better than The Bootleg Series, Vol. 1: Live in Europe. With his second great quartet, Miles Davis further blurred the line between traditionalist fundamentals and experimental individualism. Davis, the master bandleader, moved toward injecting the “free style” made popular by John Coltrane (who died that year,) into his group aesthetic. The Bootleg Series, Vol. 1 represents the result of that experiment. Each of the five concerts included in the set sounds uniquely different, despite sharing many of the same songs. The performance stage is sparse, but the performances are not. Davis pushes each band member creatively, and in turn, is pushed back himself. While the second quintet wouldn’t release a marquee Davis album a la Bitches Brew or Birth of the Cool their improvisational prowess is capture perfectly here, in, as the title suggests, the first of many Miles Davis bootleg releases. Jeb Inge

 


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Archers of Loaf

Icky Mettle (Deluxe Edition)

(Merge; US: 2 Aug 2011; UK: 5 Sep 2011)

11

Archers of Loaf
Icky Mettle (Deluxe Edition)

Icky Mettle, the 1993 debut from Archers of Loaf, still stands as one of the top albums from the ‘90s indie-rock scene. The aggressive guitars and unpredictable songs pair with lyrics that swerve from abstract and inexplicable to precise and direct. The album fit its time but hasn’t grown old. The new reissue adds a second disc of material nearly as strong. The band’s follow-up EP Vs the Greatest of All Time makes up the first five tracks of the bonus disc and is just as good as the album. The additional material mostly comes from early singles that reveal a group already finding its sound. Even if these cuts of “Web in Front” and “Wrong” don’t quite hit as hard as the album versions do, the band was nearly there, unresolved, but knowing how to be hooky and grating and uncertain and brash all at once. Justin Cober-Lake

10 - 6


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The Smiths

Complete

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

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

5 - 1


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U2

Achtung Baby (20th Anniversary Edition)

(Island; US: 1 Nov 2011; UK: 31 Oct 2011)

5

U2
Achtung Baby (20th Anniversary Edition)

“We had this thing where we really kinda believed in music as a sacrament.” That’s Bono, talking at the top of From the Sky Down, Davis Guggenheim’s fascinating new documentary chronicling Achtung Baby’s arduous recording sessions. The members of U2 don’t make music… the music makes them. They’ve steadfastly believed in music’s divine properties for over 30 years and this belief has rarely led them astray. There’s really no other way to explain how, with the glitchy, Euro dance music inspired Achtung Baby, they pulled off the single greatest reinvention in rock ‘n’ roll history.

At the dawn of a ‘90s, Bono and the Edge, Adam ‘n’ Larry traveled to Berlin in search of a new beginning. And a new beginning found them. Since Achtung Baby and its subsequent Zoo TV tour were exercises in sensory overload, it’s understandable that the band would want to go big for the album’s 20th anniversary. I would advise skipping the single disc remaster (which you should already own) and the double-disc set (which adds a smattering of interesting if not particularly revelatory B-Sides and covers) and heading straight for the mammoth, wallet destroying “Super Deluxe Edition”. A wad of your hard earned dollars ($150) will get you six discs, including two discs of remixes and the equally significant 1993 companion album Zooropa, Guggenheim’s documentary is here, along with enough viewing, reading, and listening material to keep you in U2 until 2013. Spend a long weekend immersed in this boxed set and the excitement of that bygone era becomes palpable. Even better than the real thing? Not quite, but close enough. Daniel Tebo

 


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Disco Inferno

The Five EPs

(One Little Indian; US: 8 Nov 2011; UK: 12 Sep 2011)

4

Disco Inferno
The Five EPs

It makes a romantic kind of sense that arguably the most significant artifact from one of the most beloved cult acts of the ‘90s would exist for so long solely as a fan-curated bootleg. Even amidst the band’s lifetime, the handful of EPs post-rock pioneers Disco Inferno recorded over just a two-year span (‘92-‘94) spent little time in circulation. But enterprising fans, perhaps sensing the vitality of this groundbreaking trio, helped keep these artifacts in the underground consciousness despite their limited availability. This year, however, One Little Indian legitimized the project with The 5 EPs, once and for all confirming these sample-steeped collages as the prescient, boundary pushing aural experiments they were always rumored to be.

Beyond the contextual qualifications, this set also works as a handy artistic compendium, particularly for those only familiar with the band’s full-length masterpiece from 1994, D.I. Go Pop. It was a couple of years prior, however, with the Summer’s Last Sound EP, that the group would finally and fully embrace the found-sound sampling techniques that have so endured them to a new generation of sonic architects. Over the course of these EPs they would continue to bravely build this unique sound outward, trafficking in elements of ambient, dub techno, and industrial electronics, all rising phoenix-like from the band’s restless disregard for properly delineated genre play. The 5 EPs is an essential snapshot of technology’s slow exertion of strength over rock music’s dwindling dynamics. Jordan Cronk

 


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Pink Floyd

The Pink Floyd Discovery Studio Album Box Set

(Capitol; US: 27 Sep 2011)

3

Pink Floyd
The Pink Floyd Discovery Studio Album Box Set

The most important reissues project since the Beatles in 2009, Pink Floyd’s Why Pink Floyd…? series is even more exhaustive. Not only has each of the band’s studio albums been given a wonderful sprucing up, gorgeously remastered and repackaged in digipak format—available individually and compiled in the massive Discovery box set—but three of its most enduring albums, Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, and (out in early 2012) The Wall, have also been given extremely thorough treatments in varying depth, ranging from Experience editions to the pricier Immersion editions. However deeply you want to delve into Pink Floyd’s incomparable body of work, whether you’re a devoted fan or a curious first-time listener, this set of reissues is an absolute godsend, mandatory listening for any fan of rock music. Adrien Begrand

 


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Marvin Gaye

What’s Going On (40th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition)

(Motown/UMe; US: 7 Jun 2011)

2

Marvin Gaye
What’s Going On (40th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition)

The image of a rain-soaked Marvin Gaye looking off into the distance is the point of entry for What’s Going On, an album that captured the social climate of the early ‘70s and remains a seminal and relevant work. Look around and the themes that Marvin Gaye addressed on songs like “Save the Children” and “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)” are mirrored in the news, on the street, and in cyberspace. Universal honors Marvin Gaye’s timeless artistic statement with an LP/two-CD edition of the album. The discs include a generous 28 bonus tracks while the vinyl includes the original “Detroit mix” of the album. The LP-sized booklet contains two essays and rare photos that tell the story of Gaye’s magnum opus. It’s the definitive version of an album that is at once a time capsule and a prophetic vision. Perhaps Donna Summer says it best when commenting on the 40th anniversary of What’s Going On, “As a freedom fighter and songwriter Marvin Gaye had the soul of a revolutionary drenched in the passion of a poet. It seemed every word was gleaned and processed through the spectrum of love, desire and pain.” Christian John Wikane

 


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The Beach Boys

The SMiLE Sessions

(Capitol/EMI; US: 1 Nov 2011)

1

The Beach Boys
The SMiLE Sessions

Technically, The SMiLE Sessions isn’t a reissue as this “lost” 1967 classic has never been officially released in anything resembling a completed form prior to now—a few tracks from the sessions found their way to a 1993 box set retrospective, and the incomplete album has circulated in bootleg form for years. Whether or not this material is even “complete” in its present incarnation is a subject that is open to debate. However, the original recording is now, more or less, “releasable” and The SMiLE Sessions have been culled together from its bits and pieces with the magic of digital editing. What’s more, it is a gorgeous, glorious thing to behold. The “album” is a show stopper that, in its new 19-track form, shows the height of Brian Wilson’s warped creative genius. Full of arty, sometimes difficult sonic fragments (“Gee” and “I Wanna Be Around / Workshop”) and robust, beautifully aching ballads (“Cabin Essence”, “Wonderful” and “Surf’s Up”), this masterpiece makes one wonder if, had SMiLE been originally released in early 1967 as it was supposed to have been, would the Beatles have given up on Sgt. Pepper’s and gone home and cried? Maybe. As it stands, The SMiLE Sessions is absolutely crushing and essential for anyone interested in ‘60s pop. Zachary Houle

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/feature/151768-the-25-best-re-issues-of-2011/