G’s Top CD Reissues of 2009

Posted by The G on December 2, 2009 under G Reviews | Read the First Comment

G's Top Reissues of 2009

G's Top Reissues of 2009

Read my reviews of my favorite reissued CDs of 2009 after the jump.

The Beatles (Stereo Box Set).  The much hyped Beatles remasters were finally released on 9.9.09 (number 9, number 9).  Were they worth all the hype?  Yes!  The sound on each of their 13 studio albums (plus the 2-cd set of non-album tracks, Past Masters is greatly enhanced.  While I am disappointed that they didn’t release the albums in 5.1 Surround Sound (read: we’ll milk the fans for another $300 in a few years), there’s no denying that the Beatles made some of the greatest music that’s ever been heard.  Albums such as The White Album and Abbey Road were in such poor sound quality when they were released on CD about 20 years ago, the sound on these is so much crisper.  On many tracks, the instrumentation is much cleaner, the vocals are much sharper and occasionally, you can hear sound effects that were lost in the mix.  The extras on the box set are few: a thin 51 minute documentary that includes soundbites and pictures from each album and NO neat book to accompany the set.  The CDs are packaged in eco-friendly, but easily damaged paper digi-packs.  This box set will make a great gift for generations to come that are recently discovering the genius of the Beatles.

Raoul and the Kings of Spain by Tears For Fears.  An under-rated album by an under-rated band. After Curt Smith, one half of Tears For Fears, left the group, the other member, Roland Orzabal, carried on the torch with 2 albums under the TFF moniker.  The first, Elemental was more electronic than had ever been heard on a TFF record and Raoul and the Kings of Spain is a straight up rock record.  Poor choices of singles and lack of promotion caused the album to fade away very quickly, but luckily there was enough demand to reissue the record with all of the albums B-sides, plus acoustic versions of the title track and “Break It Down Again” (from Elemental).  The B-side “All of the Angels” is 4 minutes of bliss.  I am so happy that the long out-of-print track is available again for all to hear.

Rio by Duran Duran.  The first in a promised series of reissues from Duran Duran.  Rio, arguably one of Duran’s best albums, is repacked in a deluxe 2 cd-set that includes the original UK version of the album, the US remixes of the album (which are all different), the b-sides, the extended versions and 4 demos from the Rio sessions.  The packaging is a hard-bound book that has all kinds of rare pictures from the very famous photo sessions.  Next year, their self-titled first album, Seven and the Ragged Tiger, Notorious and the side-project Arcadia are supposed to get the same treatment, so you can rest assured that if those releases see the light of day, they will have a place on next year’s best of list.

The Woodstock Experience by Janis Joplin.  For the first time ever, Janis’ widely bootlegged Woodstock set is officially released in perfect sound quality.  The show has existed for 40 years in the underground traders circles, and though it was in soundboard quality, the sound was really crappy.  You can throw those boots out and get this set instead to hear a show that sounds so good, you would think it was recorded last week.  The other disc is the “I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again, Mama!” album that was released around the same time as the Woodstock concert.  That is basically the same as what had been circulating in a recently remastered version of the album.  The box set also contains a double-sided poster for those of us Janis freaks.

Celebration by Madonna.  The 2-cd greatest hits set features a weak 2 new tracks (and the tracks are weak as well), but the artwork was done by Mr. Brainwash, and he’s one of my favorite artists, so this album made the list.  With that aside, it’s hard not to give Madonna credit for coming up with great pop songs for 20 years and a lot of them are included on these discs.

Ten by Pearl Jam. To celebrate the fact that grunge music has been around for a staggering 18 years, Pearl Jam’s classic Ten was reissued in a deluxe box set that contained the original version of the album, a new 2009 mix, b-sides, and the long sought after MTV Unplugged show on DVD.  I was never a fan of grunge music back when it was new, but when I heard Ten (for the first time this year – no joke), I really enjoyed it and I sort of understood why all the kids of my generation were so into this music.  The way I looked at it, when you have The Doors, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and Janis Joplin, why bother with lackluster crap by trendy flashes in the pan.  I guess that shows what I know.

Radiohead.  6 of Radiohead’s 7 albums (Pablo Honey, The Bends, OK Computer, Kid A, Amnesiac and Hail to the Thief) have been reissued in 2-CD format.  The first disc is the original album and the 2nd disc on each set is a disc of remixes, b-sides and live tracks.  In Rainbows, my favorite album from Radiohead, was not given the same treatment, but I suspect because it was on an independent label, they didn’t bother.  Radiohead morphed from an alt-rock band to a modern day Beatles as they take so many chances in the studio.  It’s really interesting to listen to these albums back to back to hear their progression in sound.  With the release of their B-sides, it’s interesting to see which songs got left off the albums.  Unfortunately, there’s not much in the liner notes to tell you about these tracks, but I guess that’s why they created Google.

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