Top Reissues of 2013
Our list of the Top Reissues of 2013 contains the usual mix of beefed-up super-deluxe editions, remastered masterpieces and expanded live albums. Almost every single one of them reveals new and different sides of stories you thought you knew inside-out by now. These are ear-opening sets, spanning recordings from the ’60s through ’90s, that fill in essential pieces of rock history.
This follow-up to the 1994 collection of performances the Beatles did for the BBC’s various radio programs in the early to mid ’60s features a mix of popular originals (‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’) and ferocious covers (Little Richard‘s ‘Lucille’). Studio dialogue, interviews and between-song goofing around makes it an essential document for fans.
It’s not as monumental as his other Memphis-based comeback from four years earlier, but the sessions Elvis Presley recorded at the fabled Stax Studio in 1973 were gutsier than you might think. Finally compiled in one place (for years these songs lingered on various albums with other, lesser ’70s material), the cuts on this three-disc set reveal a king defending his crown one last time.
Nirvana’s swan song went through some growing pains before its release in 1993, including a tweaking of producer Steve Albini’s abrasive original mix. This remastered set — which tacks on discs of remixes, outtakes and live cuts — brings the record back to its punk roots. The leftovers add fuel to an already raging fire.
This expanded version of the Band’s 1972 live album ‘Rock of Ages’ collects the group’s New York City concerts that stretched across several nights at the end of 1971, including a New Year’s Eve show. There’s some repetition on the album’s five discs, but these guys were masters onstage. And when they bring out old boss Bob Dylan for a few songs, the whole thing elevates to another level altogether.
This four-CD box traces the evolution of Sly Stone from garage-band castoff to funk pioneer to rock ‘n’ roll casualty. All of the great hits are here, leading up to the group’s 1971 masterpiece, ‘There’s a Riot Goin’ On,’ which remains one of the druggiest and most desolate albums ever made. After that, Sly got even weirder.
This 13-disc box collects pretty much everything the Clash officially released from the studio (plus a few early live cuts). In the process, it tells the story of a raw but inspired punk band growing into one of the greatest groups on the planet. Along the way, they created one of history’s all-time best albums (‘London Calling’) and a legacy worth preserving.
Van Morrison’s 1970 masterpiece gets dissected and then put back together on this five-disc set that piles on take after take of the same songs. A few leftovers make the cut (‘I Shall Sing’ should have been on the final album), but it’s the classics you already know — ‘Into the Mystic’ and ‘Caravan,’ among them — that uncover previously uncharted brilliance.
Two of this hefty box’s four discs feature the Who’s original 1969 rock opera remastered for stereo and hi-def surround. There’s also a live CD compiled from the band’s massive tour in support of ‘Tommy.’ But the key component here is an entire disc made up of Pete Townshend‘s original demos for the album. Spare, mostly acoustic and surprisingly close to the versions you know, they’re the sound of a vision in motion.
Even though his two biggest hits were cover songs, Harry Nilsson was one of the era’s finest songwriters, admired by friends and fans like the Beatles, who played on his records. This box compiles the 14 studio albums he made between 1967 and 1977, as well additional discs of outtakes, leftovers and alternate cuts from the terrific, prolific period.
One of the greatest albums ever made gets a face-lift, complete with extra discs of outtakes and alternate versions. There’s even a CD of live cuts recorded during the band’s massive tour in support of its blockbuster record. The early versions of ‘Rumours’ favorites are eye-opening, especially Stevie Nicks‘ abandoned ‘Silver Springs,’ her best song, which gets bigger, better and stronger with each successive take.