Music

The 21 Best Album Re-Issues of 2018

In 2018, the music world saw amazing reissues spanning rock titans to indie upstarts and electronic to pop of all stripes.

21. Vainqueur - Reductions 1995-1997 (Scion Versions)

So many compilations of previously released work are redundant, but the best ones can present artists in an entirely different light. Vainqueur's Reductions 1995-1997 is precisely curated to present the stoniest producer on the turn-of-the-millennium Chain Reaction label not as the epitome of non-committal dub-techno drift but as a formidable artist, lining up six of his most beloved pieces in a row and letting them lope for upwards of ten minutes at a time until they congeal into what feels like a great widescreen techno classic. Add a monolithic black cover and it's clear Reductions is meant to be big. Though the definitive Vainqueur record is his excellent Elevations, one of the original Chain Reaction releases, Reductions is a testament to the power of curation, and hopefully—like Gas's similarly fearsome Box set from 2016 or DDS's Shinichi Atobe reissues—it'll be enough to bring this reclusive master of chords and delay out of hiding. - David Bromfield

LISTEN: Spotify / YouTube

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Image by geralt (CC0 Creative Commons / Pixabay)

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20. The Beta Band – The Three EPs (20th Anniversary Remaster) (Because Music)

The most direct and simple reissue for the year was the 20th-anniversary collection of The Three E.P.'s first released by Scottish alternative rock band the Beta Band in 1998. With no changes made to the collection, no additional tracks or anything to expand on the original release, the reissue features only a remaster that succeeds in producing a cleaner, more dynamic sound for the album. The Three E.P.'s collected Champion Versions, The Patty Patty Sound, and Los Amigos del Beta Bandidos, from 1997 and 1998, and both separately and played in succession on the album, each of the EPs is as raw and unrepentant on this reissue. The quality of the reissue maintains the excitement and insight offered by the Beta Band in 1998, and the reissue soars from its focus on the album precisely: no frills, no distractions, no demos or alternate versions that alter the perception of any track, grooves, or riffs. The reissue celebrates The Three E.P.'s and generates a timeless reflection for the album and the unique style of the Beta Band without rooting the reissue in the 1990s or any detracting qualities. - Richard Driver

LISTEN: Spotify | WATCH: Los Amigos del Beta Bandidos

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19. Biosphere – The Hilvarenbeek Recordings (Biophon)

The fruits of Geir Jenssen's week-long field-recording residency at the Boerderij t'Schop farm in the Netherlands were originally released in 2016 on a four-track EP, unapproved by the artist. The eight-track final version is his best album since 2010's N-Plants, a placid and quietly awestruck ambient record that rather than dealing with the vastness of the universe zeroes in on a small parcel of land and leaves no stone unturned. As The Hilvarenbeek Recordings starts, it's dominated by workaday farm sounds and the amplified chatter of local animals. But gradually, Jenssen gives up more and more space to amorphous clouds of synth that resemble clouds drifting overhead. By the end of the album his evocation of the quaint Dutch farm has become something more spiritual than physical, an evocation not of the landscape but of that feeling of pastoral bliss we might feel sitting on a porch and listening to the bugs buzz and the plants rustle. - David Bromfield

LISTEN: Bandcamp / Spotify / YouTube

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18. The Durutti Column - Without Mercy (Factory Benelux)

Vini Reilly's instinctual approach to songwriting can be both stubborn and ephemeral, so in a way it makes sense that for all of the musicians from Manchester's post-punk scene who have come and gone, the Durutti Column are one of the few still around, and yet still under the radar of so many. Reilly's early "hits" such as "Sketch for Summer" and "Jacqueline" were intentionally fleeting pleasures, the melodies floating along with his nimble, airy approach to the guitar. In 1984, sensing a need, or at least an opportunity, for a creative change after putting out the first few Durutti Column albums, Factory Records founder Tony Wilson challenged Reilly not to go commercial, but neo-classical, with his fourth LP. The result, Without Mercy, was perhaps not exactly what either party envisioned when the proposition was made, but it remains a record capable of holding back secrets and revealing itself at its own will. Factory Benelux's four-CD reissue provides rich context to pore over, including recordings of live sets from both London in 1984 and Oslo, Norway in 1986. - Ian King

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17. The House of Love - The House of Love (Cherry Red)

The House of Love had it all. Frontman Guy Chadwick had the cheekbones and the intensity, guitarist Terry Bickers was a mercurial loose cannon, and the tunes had a vaguely existentialist feel which appealed to undergraduates everywhere. Sadly, the factors which defined them also destroyed them, and they slipped from the public view just when they should have capitalized on their "Godfathers of shoegaze" status. Their eponymous debut album is widely held up as their best work, and Cherry Red have done a fine job in dusting it down and bolting on a stack of demos, rarities, early mixes and live stuff.

The original album is a gem. The guitars mesh together like an indie-psychedelic Television, and the ten tunes are all marvelous. "Christine" is as close to a manifesto as they over got – Chadwick croons over chiming, aggressive guitars while the melody burrows into your brain and never leaves. Quite what he is singing about is unclear, but that's not the point. Over five CDs, the bands' early legacy is set out for us all to admire and on hearing this music, it's hard not to say a variation on "Why weren't they huge?" When everyone is waxing lyrical about the Smiths, you can calmly reference the House of Love – it's the rock snob equivalent of a mic drop. - Ian Rushbury

LISTEN: Spotify | WATCH: The Making of The House of Love

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16. Stella Chiweshe - Kasahwa: Early Singles (Glitterbeat)

Before she was Zimbabwe's beloved Queen of Mbira, Stella Chiweshe was a young woman in colonial Rhodesia drawn inexorably to a musical form all but forbidden to her gender. In the 1970s, she defied social conventions and began performing spiritual Shona musical traditions on borrowed instruments, quickly becoming a sensation in her homeland. On Kasahwa: Early Singles, Glitterbeat packages some of her first works, recorded between 1974 and 1983 and previously unreleased outside of Zimbabwe. The album offers new insight into Chiweshe's raw affinity for mbira music, her thumbs blazing as they pluck out hypnotic melodies. The arrangements are simple, the patterns tight and complex. All tracks are entrancing. Remastered by Nick Robbins, the pieces on Kasahwa take their audience through a difficult time in Zimbabwe's history – Chiweshe's musical beginnings were in the years directly leading up to the Chimurenga revolution, and the latest pieces on the album come only a few years after the nation's independence – and through a spectacular start to what would be Chiweshe's legendary career. - Adriane Pontecorvo

LISTEN: Bandcamp / Spotify / YouTube | WATCH: "Mayaya (Part 1 & 2)"

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15. Metallica - …And Justice For All (Blackened)

Metallica's highly ambitious reissue project continued in 2018 with the restoration of the band's final masterpiece, 1988's …And Justice For All. Arriving at a time when expectations surrounding the young band were sky high, Justice turned the metal world on its ear with its staunch, rigid, antiauthoritarian, uncompromising music and attitude. With its dry production, often dizzying technicality, and the ferocious chemistry of rhythm guitarist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich, it was by no means an easy listen, but nevertheless was the band's commercial breakthrough, bolstered by the immortal "One" (and its legendary accompanying video) and the subsequent world tour that saw Metallica headlining arenas for the first time.

Like the previous three reissues of seminal records Kill 'Em All, Ride the Lightning, and Master of Puppets, the deluxe reissue of Justice pulls out all the stops, with riff tapes, demos, rough mixes, the remastered album, and live recordings spanning six LPs, 12 CDs, and four DVDs, as well as a hardcover book, lyric sheets, and innumerable ephemera. It's another masterclass in classic heavy metal for any neophyte, but it's the longtime fans who will find it most rewarding, afforded the chance to hear in minute detail how this towering classic was built, brick by painful brick. - Adrien Begrand

LISTEN: Spotify | WATCH: ...And Justice for All Interview with David Fricke

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