Wednesday, December 16, 2009

2009's Year In Re-Issues

When compiling this list, there are a few things to remember. There is the rarity factor (Was the source material readily available or was it out-of-print?) and, of course, the quality of the material.

  1. My Bloody Valentine - Before Loveless
  2. Nirvana - Live At Reading
  3. You Weren't There: A History Of Chicago Punk 1977-1984
  4. The Beatles Remasters
  5. Def Leppard - Pyromania: Deluxe Edition
  6. Nirvana - Bleach: 20th Anniversary Edition
  7. The Jesus Lizard - Head/Pure/Goat/Liar/Down
  8. R.E.M. - Reckoning: Deluxe Edition
  9. Iron & Wine - Around The Well
  10. Pearl Jam - Ten Redux
Before Loveless is a vinyl-only (sorry, infidels) collection containing four extremely rare EPs (Strawberry Wine, Ecstasy, Feed Me With Your Kiss, and You Made Me Realize) re-mastered and fantastic. They sound nearly as great as the Isn't Anything and Loveless vinyl re-masters (another dig at American CD and MP3 shoppers). The previous difficulty to find this material makes this tops.
Live At Reading is the best live album of the year and a long overdue addition to the Nirvana catalog.
You Weren't There (available as a limited edition LP/DVD set) is a fine collection and initiation for anyone interested in the underappreciated Chicago Punk Scene of the '80s. With all rare tracks, like The Way-Outs' "Surf Combat," (later recorded by Naked Raygun, who also appear) and "Elephant's Graveyard," by the mighty Strike Under, it's a must.
Do I really need to explain The Beatles?
Def Leppard's Pyromania is a landmark album where the band perfected their blend of heavier aspects with pop savviness. The live performance from the L.A. Forum that accompanies the deluxe edition is top notch.
Bleach is merely the prelude of things to come from Nirvana. There are some gems but the newly released live tracks are great. The same goes for R.E.M. 's Reckoning. It is not an album the caliber of most of their '80s catalog but the live CD from Chicago's Aragon Ballroom makes this special.
The re-mastering of The Jesus Lizard's Touch And Go Records output is at the same time unnecessary and wonderful. The albums sound fantastic but the additional tracks have already been issued on the Bang compilation (except "Pop Song," which is a nice rarity) and the albums were still in print. What would be more helpful is for Capitol Records to muster up the balls to re-issue Shot and Blue, which were way underrated.
Iron & Wine has been most prolific in their career when it comes to non-album tracks which makes the Around The Well compilation worth having. There are fantastic covers of songs that you would never consider them doing (Flaming Lips' "Waitin' For A Superman," and New Order's "Love Vigilantes,") as well as the great original b-sides ("Call Your Boys," and "Kingdom Of The Animals,"). And yes, included is their amazingly somber rendition of The Postal Service's "Such Great Heights,". Sam Beam and company can make even the peppiest tune break your heart.
As if this list wasn't grunge-heavy enough, Pearl Jam's Ten Redux came out this year. the re-mastering was all well and good but an audio recording of the Unplugged performance would be hanve been better.

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