Far be it from me to suggest that reissues are corporate-controlled releases meant for the sole purposes of making money off of consumer interest. Fact is, reissues CAN be pursued efforts to bring classic albums back into print, remaster them for superior quality due to newer technologies, or maybe to commemorate an anniversary and provide fans a unique retrospective. In any case, every year has a set of reissues, and 2012 had quite a few amazing ones.
I picked out ten of the best reissues that were released this year and listed them in alphabetical order below, starting with:
Blur – 21
It’s hard to imagine what the world would sound like today without the influence of Brit-pop and its acclaimed contributors. It’s even harder to wrap my brain around the fact that it has been 21 years since Blur came into our lives with Leisure. To commemorate this milestone and the time that has passed, Blur released a fantastic retrospective box set of their career that any fan or newcomer will want in their collections.
21 contains a wealth of content including all seven of Blur’s studio albums (five of which have been remastered) with B-sides and rarities totaling a whopping 18 discs, plus three DVDs, one 7″ vinyl, and a hardcover book with photos and an extensive biography. All housed in one hefty box, this reflective set takes you from the band’s genesis to their final (or at least perennial) curtain call, and there’s too much here to not warrant a look-see.
The Books – A Dot In Time
Nick Zammuto and Paul de Jong made up the dynamic duo of The Books, a “collage rock” band that made use of thrift store samples and unorthodox compositions to create music that is pure poetry. Unfortunately, the duo parted ways earlier this year, but while Nick went on to form an expanded band under his last name, labelmates Temporary Residence Ltd. released A Dot In Time, an excellent box set that spans The Books’ 12-year-long career.
Along with the four studio albums The Books released, the box set contains all of their material remastered on seven vinyl records, a 2-hour DVD containing videos made by the band, a sweet 56-page picture book, and a cassette-shaped USB flash drive with all of their music in digital form. It’s practically essential for fans and even more so for those who have yet to experience The Books, whose majesty is likely to be more appreciated in the years to come.
Interpol – Turn On The Bright Lights: 10th Anniversary Edition
It may be only a decade since Interpol’s debut album was released, but it didn’t even take that long for fans and critics to consider it a classic. Its mixture of emotional drive and momentous presence continues to carry the album’s impact even after the band’s three subsequent releases, and Turn On The Bright Lights’ staying power has been realized in its 10th Anniversary reissue from Matador Records.
The original album has been wonderfully remastered and presented with an additional disc of B-sides and demos from the period, which reveals the amount of potential the band had during the album’s creation. A DVD featuring live segments and the music videos created for the album singles is also included, along with a 48-page book containing unpublished photos and liner notes. As essential as this album should have been in your library over the last ten years, this is a fantastic reissue if you’ve never had the chance to own it and a specialty item for fans.
Joni Mitchell – The Studio Albums 1968-1979
Considering her influence upon an entire generation of listeners and freedom movers, simply calling Joni Mitchell one of the greatest singer-songwriters of all time wouldn’t do her justice. She released some of the most reflective and transcendant albums of the late-60s and ’70s, exploring multiple genres and embracing the power of music as an artform. She’s released albums since then, but none have had the depth or staying power as the ten albums released during this period.
Rhino Records, too, recognizes their relevance even into the 2010s, which is why this year they released a fantastic box set collecting these albums, including Ladies of the Canyon, Blue, and Court and Spark, with each disc housed in a replicated LP gatefold for those wanting to reminisce. You may not find its value if you’ve owned these albums for a while now, but to have them all collectively in one package and to own pieces of music history is incredibly worth the cost.
Massive Attack – Blues Lines
This was the album that started the trip-hop genre and debuted one of the most innovative artists of the last twenty years. Released at a time when absolutely no one expected to hear this kind of sound (a blend of American hip hop and the UK electric underground), Blue Lines built its reputation over years of repeat plays and the release of the smash hit single “Unfinished Symphony.” The album is now considered a landmark that new artists frequently cite as a major influence.
To celebrate its 21st anniversary, Massive Attack released a completely remastered deluxe edition, containing the album split across two heavyweight 180-gram vinyls and on CD for those wanting a digital version, as well as a high-quality audio DVD and the original 24″ x 18″ promo poster released during the record’s initial pressing. It’s an album that sounds just as ahead of its time now as it did in 1991, making this a must-buy set for those who have yet to be introduced to this phenomenal era of music.