I am one of those old guys that still buy physical copies of art (albums). I say it is because I need it to play in the car, but that’s really just an excuse. I love the sensation of unpacking a new album, the feel, the artwork, the printed lyrics, the smell, hell, the whole package!
When the record companies have sold me all the classic albums, they release them again, with better sound, with more songs and bonus features, I don’t feel cheated, I feel blessed. I love archival music stuff, and long to hear studio outtakes, live takes and alternative versions of songs.
It has been a good year for music archivists, and my favorite reissues/archival releases this year are:
1. Bob Dylan – Another Self Portrait (1969-1971) The Bootleg Series Vol.10
This is from my post right after I bought the box set:
I have now had a few days listening to the new Bootleg series 10 deluxe box set. It is very interesting, and it is actually rather good. I am one of those few that kind of liked the original album, so I expected to like Another Self Portrait. I was not expecting that I would like it as much as I do.
That said, there are two things that stand out however. The first is the demo version of When I Paint My Masterpiece, it knocked me out. It is breathtakingly beautiful.
But the best of the release is the full Isle of Wight performance with The Band, and I really did not expect that!
When I paint my masterpiece – Demo:
A fantastic historical document!
2. The Band – Live at the Academy of Music 1971
A 4-CD/1-DVD box set chronicles Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, Rick Danko and Richard Manuel’s 1971 concerts at New York’s Academy of Music, featuring arrangements by New Orleans great Allen Toussaint.
One of the best live albums in rock history got the deluxe treatment, and yes, it got even better. Rock of Ages had 18 wonderful tracks, this upgrade has 56(!) tracks with The Band (and Bob Dylan) at their very peak. 56 best takes of songs from four evenings in 1971 (including the New-Years eve show in its entirety). I have played Rock of Ages so much I thought that nothing could surprise me, but this set did. The sound, the packaging, the liner notes and the pictures, everything is top-notch.
Life is a Carnival (Live, 1971):
3. Elvis Presley – Elvis at Stax (Deluxe Edition):
In July and December 1973 Elvis Presley did recording sessions on McLemore Avenue (Stax) and produced material for three albums: Raised on Rock/For Ol’ Times Sake(1973), Good Times (1974) and Promised Land (1975). The completed Stax masters, plus many alternate takes and outtakes, have now been collected by RCA Records and Legacy as the 3-CD box set Elvis at Stax.
It is just so great to hear Elvis so close to home both geographically and musically. This is how good he could be when he took some control. The set includes country/soul and crooner ballads side by side, all done with heart (and soul).
Elvis at Stax is a landmark release for bringing the Stax masters together. Most of his original album releases weren’t crafted or packaged to a standard matching that of his performances or the historical significance of these sessions. The box set adds 27 outtakes and alternate takes that allow listeners to trace the evolution of a song. It’s a goldmine for us music lovers!
Some call it folk
Some call it soul
but people let me tell you: It was Rock’n Roll
– Raised on Rock
Elvis Presley – Good Time Charlie’s Got The Blues – Take 8:
4. Van Morrison – Moondance (Deluxe Edition):
It is a marvelous night to revisit Van Morrison’s third and one of his best albums in expanded box set form. I know Van Morrison didn’t endorse this set, but I couldn’t resist buying it. It’s fantastic. The remastered Moondance is available in 1-CD, 2-CD and in my case, a 4-CD/1-BD editions, with the latter premiering hours of session material plus a stunning 5.1 surround mix.
The ease of Van’s singing, his incredible music sense, it reminds me of when I first saw movie clips of Elvis in the studio and at rehearsals, he jumps in and out of complex musical arrangements like it is second nature. And come to think of it, it probably is.
To witness the evolution of Into The Mystic is so rewarding and fascinating!
Van Morrison – Into The Mystic (Take 11):
5. Elvis Presley – Prince from another planet (Live):
Ok, so it was released in 2012, I couldn’t get a hold of it until this year. And, man! It is good!
These two sold out shows were also Elvis Presley’s first (and only) New York concerts; the earlier appearances were television broadcasts.
An album (it went triple-platinum) chronicling the event was released just a week after the actual event.
Now, forty years later, Elvis as Recorded Live at Madison Square Garden has been given a new mix, a new title (mimicking the New York Times headline after the concerts) , Prince from Another Planet: Elvis as Recorded Live at Madison Square Garden – 40th Anniversary Edition from RCA and Legacy Recordings (2 CDs and 1 DVD). Produced by Rob Santos and Ernst Mikael Jorgensen (Elvis archivist extraordinaire) and with the inclusion of newly discovered film footage from Madison Square Garden, it’s even an even greater historical event than it was when it happened.
Finally the Elvis stuff get the treatment it deserves!
Elvis Presley – Polk Salad Annie (The afternoon show, MSG 10 June 1972):
PS: These were also very good:
The Waterboys – Fisherman’s Box
Especially this remastered version of Girl from the North Country:
Townes Van Zandt – Sunshine Boys: The Unheard Studio Sessions & Demos 1971-72
The Beatles – On Air: Live at the BBC Vol.2
Gene Clark – Here tonight: The White Light Demos
Marvin Gaye – Trouble Man 40th Anniversary Expanded Edition
Duane Allman – Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective
I have not bought the Complete Dylan Box set (yet…)