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The Second Disc Buyers Guide: The 100 Greatest Reissues of All Time, Part 10 (#55-51)

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In Part 10 of our TSD Buyers Guide, which counts the reissues of the albums in Rolling Stone‘s 100 greatest albums of all time (as selected in 2003), we pay homage to early rock-and-roll and rhythm-and-blues pioneers, look at two very different albums from 1970, and head down for Memphis for some seductive soul!

55. Elvis Presley, Elvis Presley (RCA Victor, 1956)

Well, it’s one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, now go, cat, go!

With such words was a revolution born! Those simple lyrics were the first sung by Elvis Presley on his 1956 self-titled RCA Victor debut, accompanied by the blasts of Scotty Moore’s guitar, then the frantic beats of D.J. Fontana’s drums. It’s unlikely that Presley ever anticipated that his recording of Carl Perkins’ “Blue Suede Shoes” would provide the soundtrack to a country’s coming of age. Elvis Presley turned 21 in the buttoned-up, repressive climate of the American south circa 1956. Soon his music, synthesizing African-American R&B, pop, soul, country and gospel into something wholly new, hit a raw nerve. Presley’s debut recordings crystallized the power of the American teenager on both culture and the music business, selling the album format (previously the territory of adults) to youth, and influencing clothes, hairstyles and attitudes.

The above is an excerpt of my review of Legacy Recordings’ Young Man with the Big Beat (RCA/Legacy 88697 93534-2, 2011), a lavish 5-CD box set that includes, in its entirety, the 1956 Elvis Presley debut album that’s made this list at No. 55. Young Man was released concurrently with a 2-CD Legacy Edition of the expanded Vic Anesini remasters of Elvis Presley and its just-months-later follow-up, Elvis, minus the box set’s remaining bonus material. Young Man and the Elvis Presley Legacy Edition are the most recent, and perhaps most definitive, editions of Elvis Presley, but they’re not the last word about the album on CD. Its original domestic issue (RCA PCD1-5198, 1985) was supplanted in 1999 by an edition including singles as bonus tracks (RCA 07863 67735-2) and new remastering, though this edition raised the ire of collectors by altering the track listing and sequence. A 2005 DSD remastering by Kevan Budd restored the proper album sequence, with the bonus tracks at the end of the disc (RCA 82876-66058-2). A gold disc was released by RCA itself in 1995. RCA’s 1996 Elvis ’56 (RCA 07863 65135-2) was an early predecessor to Young Man with the Big Beat, containing many of Elvis’ 1956 recordings including much of Elvis Presley. Young Man contains all of the tracks on both Elvis ’56 and the 1999 CD. The only related Elvis Presley tracks not on the Young Man box set can be found on the deluxe reissue of Elvis Presley from the mail-order/Internet-only Follow That Dream label. FTD’s 2006 expansion (8287686160-2) was remastered by Kevan Budd and includes not only the original album and the six singles, but an interview and over an entire disc’s worth of session material. For true devotees of Elvis Presley, the FTD issue and the Young Man box are both essential.

54. Jimi Hendrix, Electric Ladyland (Reprise, 1968)

Electric Ladyland, originally released in October 1968, is the third and final album of new material by The Jimi Hendrix Experience, and the only one of the band’s albums produced by Hendrix himself. A sprawling psychedelic double-album, it touched on all aspects of Hendrix’s musical personality, from heavy rock to blues, soul and funk. Hendrix’s majestic cover of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” joined his own psychedelic originals, including both “Voodoo Chile” and “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” as well as “Crosstown Traffic” and “Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland).” The U.S. edition on Reprise Records topped the charts for two weeks, and it was almost as successful in the U.K., where it reached No. 6 on the album chart. Still one of the guitar god’s most beloved and enduring albums, Electric Ladyland has been reissued with frequency.

Whereas Reprise controlled the Hendrix catalogue in the U.S., Polydor had the rights overseas. Both Polydor and Reprise (W2 6307-2, 1987 and 1990) initially released the catalogue on CD (reportedly from second generation tapes) then remastered the titles using the controversial “NoNoise” method. Alan Douglas supervised another edition for MCA Records remastered by Joe Gastwirt (MCAD-10895, 1993), and although the tape used is still a matter of debate, NoNoise wasn’t applied. When the newly-formed Experience Hendrix concern took over the catalogue, yet another remastered edition was released on MCA (MCAD-11600, 1997), this time from the original tapes and again without NoNoise (though some audiophiles took exception to the limiting applied by George Marino and Eddie Kramer on these releases.) The Experience Hendrix series recently moved from Universal to Sony’s Legacy division, and the Kramer/Marino remaster was reissued in a deluxe edition with a bonus DVD (Legacy 88697 62164-2, 2010) containing a 12-minute mini-documentary.

Next stop: the ground floor at the birth of soul! Hit the jump!

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Written by Joe Marchese

December 9, 2011 at 10:48