Every year a veritable plethora of great music is virtually ignored by list-makers, bloggers, and arbiters of taste. This music, although loved by many is excluded largely due to its familiarity. I'm talking about the often 'list maligned' CD reissue. Heck, admit it... We all buy them. We buy them in droves in fact, largely because we love the originals so passionately.
Rob from London's Burgeoning Metropolis has asked me to compile my special list for his mega list Best of 2008. So forget the rules and regulations everyone, this Top Five List compiles the Best Reissued Music of 2008. A brief explanation will be included to allay that smidge of guilt I will no doubt feel in resurrecting this music from another time.
5. The Replacements Sorry Ma Forget to Take Out the Trash, Stink, Hootenanny, Let It Be, Tim, Pleased To Meet Me, Don't Tell a Soul, All Shook Down
The Replacements have always been near and dear to my rock n' roll heart and I have been waiting for someone to do this right for many years now. Rhino Records have though with this bevy of lavish reissues. It's not necessarily the remastering though that is the big draw this time though. In fact much to my chagrin, some even sound a little worse. (I'm looking at you Pleased to Meet Me). It is however the inclusion of a number of rare and unreleased bonus tracks that make these discs so very essential. Paul Westerberg's early solo home demo for 'You're Getting Married' from the Stink EP and the Alex Chilton produced bonus tracks on Tim really illuminate the greatness and true potential this band honestly possessed. So it's with a certain sense of pride that extensive versions of these albums are available for new fans to discover and old fans to love again. The fact that I can recommend them all testimony to their greatness.
4. Dennis Wilson Pacific Ocean Blue + Bambu (Caribou Sessions)
This record was one of my most highly anticipated releases this year and it did not fail to disappoint. Long out of print since its original release in 1980 this record finally got its due with this year's double cd package. True, in the thirty years since, Pacific Ocean Blue's reputation has risen with the Wilsonian superlatives lavished up on it by fans such as The Verve, Foo Fighters and The Charlatans. Similarly,unavailability has also played its part in ballooning the myth – Be assured though Pacific Ocean Blue meets and surpasses even the loftiest of sonic expectations.
Nearly twenty five years after Wilson's untimely death, we'll never know if this version of Bambu matched the creative vision of its creator but it does offer a rare glimpse into a profoundly creative mind. Bearing in mind the fact that this was the same album that had been left abandoned by Dennis himself a full four years before he died in 1983. For the ardent musicologist in all of us, this collection is a treasure, at last finding its rightful place in Dennis Wilson's legacy.
3. Pavement Brighten the Corners (Nicene Creedence Edition)
Matador Record's two-disc Nicene Creedence Edition of Pavement's seminal Brighten the Corners goes way beyond the original 12-song release, adding a whopping 31 additional cuts: Including outtakes, B-sides, compilation tracks, and live radio sessions, all of them top-notch. (When I do my top five song title list "Neil Hagerty Meets Jon Spencer in a Non-Alcoholic Bar" will surely be first and foremost.)
I recall very well when the original release of this album graced my ears. By then Pavement had perfected their slacker ideology with their clever mélange of idiosyncrasy and competence. These guys were such a huge influence on indie music for years since. I've always considered them to be this continent's version of the Fall. High praise, trust me, Mark E. Smith is a demigod in my books.
So get out the air guitar and go Guitar Hero over the seven-minute "And Then (The Hexx)". Pure ‘postmetallifunkyslackersabbathjam’ goodness!
2. R.E.M. Murmur (Deluxe Edition)
You know how sometimes you get that little burst of adrenalin when you get some good news about something you really love. Well I got that rush when I heard about this records impending reissue. When I actually heard it though, it was a whole new ballgame. Hearing this reissue was like hearing it for the first time just like I did over twenty five years ago. Pristine, mysterious and jaw droppingly good. But the real bonus here is the oft bootlegged live cd from Larry's Hideaway in Toronto. - This generation's artistic equivalent to Live at Leeds by the Who. (THIS SHOW IS JUST THAT GOOD.)
I could write an essay on the importance of this CD in my musical pedigree but this time I defer to you the listener to discover its riches. It rarely gets better than this.
1. Otis Redding Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul (Collector's Edition)
On July 10, 1965, Otis Redding took only 24 hours to record ten of the eleven songs that would make up Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul, arguably the 1960s' greatest studio-recorded soul LP. Allow me to amend that. It may be one of the last century’s greatest recorded LP’s.
This is unquestionably Redding's crowning achievement. The sprawling two CD Collector's Edition of Otis Blue really helps to illuminate that contention. This amazing package includes rarities, live versions of the album tracks, alternate mixes, and the original LP in both mono and stereo. It was pure bliss to discover anew the magic that lies within this record. Not unlike the more extensive Beach Boys - Pet Sounds Boxed Set this release goes a long way in explaining the back story of this legendary musician.
The music on this disc will affect the way you listen to and interpret music. "Change Gonna Come", Redding's cover of Sam Cooke's now timely civil rights anthem "A Change Is Gonna Come", is the real gem of this package. Emotional, raw and so extraordinarily passionate the hair on the back of your neck will stand on end when you hear it.
For an album that took one day to create is still a stunning revelation to me- Testimony to the inimitable soul and sublime talent of Otis Redding. This record needs to be in everyone's collection. It deserves reverence, it deserves love. It is a blueprint for all of us to do just that.