The Second Disc

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The Second Disc Buyers Guide: The 100 Greatest Reissues of All Time, Part 11 (#50-46)

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And so starts the second half of our 100 Greatest Reissues feature! We’ve taken Rolling Stone‘s list of the 100 greatest albums of all time from 2003 and scoured the history of each one on compact disc, making note of masterings, packaging and bonus tracks wherever possible. These next five are some of the definitive statements in their respective genres, from rock to rap to reggae to jazz; we’re sure there’s something for everyone in this entry!

50. Little Richard, Here’s Little Richard (Specialty, 1957)

With a handful of nonsensical syllables – “A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-lop-bop-bop” – Richard Penniman helped shape rock and roll forever. Two years of killer singles and definitive performances of the genre culminated in Here’s Little Richard, his first long-playing record. (Believe it or not, it was one of his only for Specialty Records; after another self-titled album the next year, he would turn his back on rock for gospel music, and would spend much of his career between the two.) In addition to “Tutti Frutti,” key tracks included “Rip It Up,” “Ready Teddy” and the equally iconic “Long Tall Sally.”

Despite its deserved status in the rock canon, Here’s Little Richard is sort of a subdued title on CD. First released by beloved U.K. label Ace in the late ’80s (CDCHM 128), that release remains in print. A Mobile Fidelity hybrid SACD release (UDSACD 2028, 2006) paired Here’s Little Richard with its self-titled follow-up; both are found together on CD in this set by the import Hoodoo label. (A Mobile Fidelity vinyl pressing – MFSL 1-287 – also exists.) Completists will want to check out two boxes entitled The Specialty Sessions that exhaustively chronicle this fertile period in rock history: a hard-to-find six-disc version by Ace (ABOXCD 1, 1989) and a slightly easier-to-find triple-disc set on Specialty 8508, released a year later.

49. The Allman Brothers Band, At Fillmore East (Capricorn, 1971)

On the surface, The Allman Brothers looked like your typical Southern-fried rock band. Digging deeper, though, they were a strong band with deep connections to each other onstage. Their work over two nights at the Fillmore East in March of 1971 suggests a jazz collective as much as good ol’ boys, and the subsequent live album, with its insanely prodigious extended jams (some stretching all the way to 20 minutes), was one to listen to no matter how much you liked country. The Fillmore shows also proved ripe for the group’s subsequent album, Eat a Peach – which featured extras from the shows (including the half-hour “Mountain Jam,” extended over two sides of vinyl!) – as well as the sound systems of fans everywhere, with the alternately mixed and edited quadrophonic pressings of the album serving as a treat to early adopter audiophiles.

The first CD release of At Fillmore East was a double-disc set in Europe on Polydor (823 273-2) in 1986. Dennis M. Drake receives digital mastering credit. In 1989, the Dreams box set (Polydor 839 417-2) featured two tracks from the original LP (“Whipping Post” and “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed”), as remixed from the quadrophonic masters. It also included an unreleased track from those March 13-14 shows, “Drunken Hearted Boy.” The Fillmore tracks from At Fillmore East, Eat a Peach and Dreams, along with one other track (“Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’,” first released on 1972’s Duane Allman: An Anthology), were re-edited and remixed for 1992’s The Fillmore Concerts (Polydor 314 517 294-2); that same year, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab remastered the original album on two gold CDs (UDCD 2-558).

In 1997, the original album, remastered by Suha Gur, was released on CD as Capricorn 314 531 260-2. The next year, a DTS CD (DTS Entertainment 710215 4410 2 3) provided the first CD edition of the album with the original quadrophonic mix. Gur remixed and remastered the Fillmore material yet again for a Deluxe Edition (again, with one more track, “Midnight Rider” from Duane Allman: An Anthology II). That set (Mercury B0000401-02, 2003) was followed a year later by a hybrid SACD version (Mercury B0000400-36) of the original album – the final word, for now.

After the jump, it’s all about the rhythm and the rebel, in more ways than one!

48. Public Enemy, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (Def Jam, 1988)

In 1988, rap music wasn’t showing any sign of slowdown, but there were some anxious to move beyond the flashy, party-starting atmosphere of most of the top acts of the genre, from Run-D.M.C. to the Beastie Boys. From that resistance came Public Enemy, a New York-based rap outfit who’d gained notice with their 1987 debut Yo! Bum Rush the Show. Yearning for bigger and better statements from their work and the genre as a whole, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back addressed some of society’s headiest ills through a group unlike any other. Chuck D’s booming raps, Flavor Flav’s biting, wacky hype-man style, the rapid-fire turntable scratches of Terminator X and the dense, sample-ridden production techniques of The Bomb Squad were the mediums; iconic cuts like “Bring the Noise,” “Don’t Believe the Hype” and “Rebel Without a Pause” were the incendiary message. P.E. and hardcore rap may have never been better since.

Despite the enduring cultural appeal of It Takes a Nation of Millions…, only two CD editions exist: the original, manufactured by Columbia (CK 44303), and a reissue in 1995, when Def Jam’s catalogue transferred to PolyGram (314 527 358-2). Little difference exists between the two. Theoretical deluxe editions have been jettisoned for the same reasons: the high costs of relicensing the literally millions of dollars worth of samples in the production.

47. John Coltrane, A Love Supreme (Impulse!, 1964)

A Love Supreme is a strong contender for the best jazz album of all time, and a few listens makes it easy to understand why: Coltrane took major steps in breaking the conventions of jazz down to just their roots, a style now widely known as “free jazz.” The saxophonist and his quartet, building around a four-note motif over a four-part suite, resonated deeply with even non-fans of the genre.

First released on CD in 1986 (MCA/Impulse! MCAD-5660), the first major digital remaster of A Love Supreme was done by Erick Labson for a 1995 CD (Impulse! GRD-155). Original engineer Rudy Van Gelder returned to remaster the 2002 deluxe edition (Impulse! 314 589 945-2), which expanded the album with a bonus disc featuring Coltrane’s only live quartet performance of the album and four alternate takes. (That remaster would be released on its own in the next year as Impulse!/Verve B0000610-02.) 2002 also saw the release of an SACD edition (Impulse 314 589 596-2) mastered by Kevin Reeves.

46. Bob Marley & The Wailers, Legend (Island, 1984)

Released three years after malignant melanoma took Bob Marley at the far-too-young age of 36, Legend is the new reggae fan’s bible – in fact, the highest-selling album in the genre – spanning tracks from the band’s Island era, including “Stir It Up,” “Get Up, Stand Up,” “One Love/People Get Ready,” “Jamming” and the pensive “Redemption Song,” to name but a few.

Legend has an interesting release history: when it was first pressed on CD (Island I2-90169), there were 14 tracks, many of which were edited from their original LP length and some of which were remixed for U.S. audiences. The first CD remaster, overseen by Barry Diament (Tuff Gong 422 846 210-2, 1990), restored the tunes to their album lengths. A subsequent remaster in 2002 (Island/Tuff Gong 314 548 904-2) added two bonus tracks, “Easy Skanking” and non-LP B-side “Punky Reggae Party,” both of which featured on cassette editions of the album. Ted Jensen remastered this pressing.

At the same time, alongside several other iconic Marley LPs, Universal gave Legend the deluxe treatment (Island/Tuff Gong 314 586 714-2), placing the expanded, remastered disc in a digipak and slipcase alongside a bonus disc of rare extended and dub mixes, including the mixes from the original U.S. pressings of Legend. Europe also received this set as a “Sound + Vision” edition with a bonus, region-free DVD of videos and a 90-minute documentary (Island 0602498125380, 2003). In 2010, that bonus disc was released on its own as a “Rarities Edition” (Island/Tuff Gong/UMe B0013931-02).

Tomorrow: punk and psychedelia are the orders of the day, with releases by Patti Smith, The Doors, The Sex Pistols, Pink Floyd and The Band!

Written by Mike Duquette

December 12, 2011 at 17:31

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