The Second Disc

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The Second Disc Buyers Guide: The 100 Greatest Reissues of All Time, Part 9 (#60-55)

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We’re nearing the halfway point of our list of all the reissues of Rolling Stone‘s list of the 100 greatest albums of all time. How many do you have? What are your favorites? Which ones need reissues? Don’t be afraid to sound off! Today’s installment has a few of my own favorite albums, and all-around classics to boot.

60. Sly & The Family Stone, Greatest Hits (Epic, 1970)

Including tracks from Dance to the MusicLife and Stand! – three excellent ’60s funk albums – was impressive enough. But Sly and The Family Stone’s Greatest Hits added not one, not two, but three extra tracks, taken from singles in the summer of ’69, that were every bit as good as every single they’d released before. “Hot Fun in the Summertime” was a No. 2 pop hit and one of the season’s best feel-good grooves. But the highlight of the new material was easily the chart-topping double A-side “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” and “Everybody is a Star,” the former of which included a sound that had rarely been heard in pop music: the slap bass. Pioneered by both Graham and bassist Louis Johnson, this percussive style of playing the bass guitar – with the middle of the thumb striking the strings and the other fingers plucking them hard – became a cornerstone of the burgeoning funk style of music that Sly & The Family Stone were pioneering.

Though there were no bonus cuts on either the original CD release of the compilation (Epic EK 30325, 1990) or its Vic Anesini-remastered edition in 2007 (Epic/Legacy 82876 75910-2),  there was likely meant to have been. Legacy: Music for the Next Generation, a 1990 promotional CD heralding the start of the Legacy label, featured a version of “Thank You” that was a good minute-and-a-half longer than the original version. It’s also worth pointing out that CD versions of Greatest Hits mark the first time any of the three new tracks were heard in true stereo; LP copies used fake stereo versions rechanneled from the original mono single versions. There was, however, two quadraphonic mixes of the album (a commercially released one and an earlier test mix) that remain unreleased on CD…

59. The Beatles, Meet The Beatles! (Capitol, 1964)

Meet The Beatles! is hailed on the sleeve as “the first album by England’s phenomenal pop combo.” And while that isn’t technically true on either side of the Atlantic (Parlophone debut Please Please Me came out in England in March 1963, ten months before Meet hit the U.S., and the troubled Vee-Jay label released a cut-down version of that disc, Introducing…The Beatles, ten days before Meet), this 12-track, 27-minute disc was indeed, for many, the first opportunity to hear John, Paul, George and Ringo in the studio.

Culled from the sessions that yielded Please Please Me and follow-up With The Beatles (with which this album shared a striking front cover), Meet is certainly an intriguing album by virtue of its focus almost entirely on Lennon-McCartney compositions, rather than the mix of originals and rock and R&B covers from the first two British albums. While that’s sort of betraying the understanding of the band’s roots you get with the “official” albums, it’s hard to argue with the greatness on display here.

Meet The Beatles!, along with all the major American albums prior to 1966’s Revolver (the first album where the band’s Stateside output was more or less parallel with what Parlophone was putting out in the U.K.), was roundly ignored on CD for nearly two decades after The Fab Four made their debut on compact disc in 1987. (The equivalent worldwide albums, Please Please Me and With The Beatles, were released on CD in mono only at the time.) It wasn’t until 2004 – a good five years before the exalted release of Beatles remasters across the globe – that the release of The Capitol Albums, Volume 1 (Apple/Capitol CDP 72438 66878 2 1) gave new and old fans a chance to experience those American LPs on compact disc. The four-disc set featured Meet The Beatles, The Beatles’ Second Album, Something New and Beatles ’65 in both mono and stereo, marking the first time songs like “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “I Saw Her Standing There” and “All My Loving” were heard on CD through two channels. Between this box and its 2006 sequel, audiences had a decent placeholder until the big catalogue guns came out in 2009. (The Capitol Albums, Vol. 1 exists in two editions on CD. The other, Apple/Capitol CDP 72438 75656 2 3, is packaged as a standard-sized “brick” rather than in a longbox.)

Things get strange and soulful after the jump!

58. Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band, Trout Mask Replica (Straight, 1969)

Easily the strangest album not only on this list, but essentially any best-of list, the Frank Zappa-produced Trout Mask Replica was the first great opportunity for Don Van Vliet (a.k.a. Captain Beefheart) to stretch out with full creative control. (Of course, that meant a lot of bizarre behavior during rehearsals and subsequent sessions.) But the album was a landmark moment for experimental rock music, one that colored any rock album of the past 40-plus years that you might call “surreal.”

Despite the years of accolades for the album, there’s only ever been one CD release: a straight release from Reprise Records in 1989 (2027-2). Expanded reissues of the Beefheart catalogue have allegedly come under consideration at Rhino, but nothing’s materialized. What has, though, is two discs’ worth of Trout Mask Replica sessions and related ephemera on the out-of-print four-disc box set Grow Fins: Rarities (1965-1982) (Revenant 210, 1999)

57. The Rolling Stones, Beggars Banquet (Decca, 1968)

After the vaguely misconceived psychedelia of Their Satanic Majesties Request, The Stones went back to what they did best: rough-and-tumble, R&B-based rock. “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” a non-LP single from the album sessions, was a deserved hit, and no self-respecting fan could ignore the powerful album opener “Sympathy for the Devil” or underrated single “Street Fighting Man.” Producer Jimmy Miller did some great work for the band and would continue to do so for another five years (albeit without Brian Jones, whose last contributions to the band were on this LP – he would be gone within a year of the album’s release).

First released on CD in 1986 (ABKCO CD 539), The Stones’ Decca-era catalogue was remastered by Bob Ludwig in 2002 and released on hybrid SACD (ABKCO 187 719 539-2). On all these CD issues, the album’s original cover art – a heavily-graffiti’d bathroom wall – was reinstated; on the 2002 reissue, a major problem was finally corrected in that the album was finally mastered at the correct, slightly faster speed than what had been heard for decades. A Japanese SHM-SACD (Universal UIGY-9038) followed in 2010.

56. Stevie Wonder, Songs in the Key of Life (Tamla, 1976)

In 1975, there was no new Stevie Wonder released, a first since 1965, when the singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist was 15. From earlier in the decade, starting with 1972’s Music of My Mind and Talking Book LPs, Wonder was in the middle of his “classic period,” winning back-to-back Grammy Awards for Album of the Year with Innervisions and Fulfillingness’ First Finale. Though it’s crazy to think now, Wonder seriously considered leaving music behind to work with handicapped children in Africa, but ultimately signed another seven-year contract with Motown and got to work. And what a work. Songs in the Key of Life is a sprawling double album (with a four-song EP thrown in, to boot) that touches on social ills (including the excellent “Pastime Paradise”) while still maintaining a best-party-in-the-world-and-you’re-all-invited vibe (“Sir Duke,” “I Wish,” “Isn’t She Lovely,” “As”). Wonder deserved his third consecutive Album of the Year award, plain and simple.

The first CD release of Songs (Motown 374 630 340-2, 1984) retained both of the original LPs and the bonus EP on two discs; however, the EP was split across both discs, with two tracks appended to the end of Disc 1 (the first two sides of the album) and the other two to Disc 2/the third and fourth sides. In 2000, the album was remastered by Kevin Reeves and released twice, once in a jewel case (Motown 012 157 357-2) and once in a limited edition digipak (Motown 012 157 582-2). In 2010, Universal’s Japan arm released a SHM-SACD edition of the album (Motown UIGY-9054); it’s listed as one disc, although the double-album-with-EP track list would bring a disc past the 80-minute limit. One year later, Kevin Gray remastered the album again for a double-disc 24K gold CD (Audio Fidelity AFZ2 096).

Some of our favorites show up on the next installment, from a killer folk duo, a soul legend, two geniuses on guitar and piano and The King! Stay tuned…

Written by Mike Duquette

December 8, 2011 at 14:44

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