Music

The 25 Best Re-Issues of 2011

Photo: Guy Webster / ©2011 GuyWebster.com. Courtesy of EMI.

The year's best reissues are highlighted by a massive re-issue campaign for the kings of English prog rock, a soul giant, and the masterwork of one of America's finest ever pop bands.

Artist: Material Issue

Album: International Pop Overthrow (20th Anniversary Edition)

Label: Hip-O Select

US Release Date: 2011-04-05

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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

 
Artist: Primal Scream

Album: Screamadelica (Kevin Shields Remaster)

Label: Sony

US Release Date: 2011-03-29

UK Release Date: 2011-03-14

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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

 
Artist: The Jayhawks

Album: Tomorrow the Green Grass

Label: American/Legacy

US Release Date: 2011-01-18

UK Release Date: 2011-01-17

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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

 
Artist: The Rolling Stones

Album: Some Girls (Deluxe Edition)

Label: Universal

US Release: 2011-11-21

UK Release: 2011-11-21

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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

 
Artist: John Fahey

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

Label: Dust to Digital

US Release Date: 2011-10-11

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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

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