Under the Radar’s Holiday Gift Guide 2019 Part 13: Music Reissues and Box Sets (Part One) | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Monday, July 13th, 2020  

Under the Radar’s Holiday Gift Guide 2019 Part 13: Music Reissues and Box Sets (Part One)

Revisited Classic Albums and Rarities from Prince, The Chemical Brothers, Bob Dylan, New Order, Simple Minds, The Replacements, Tom Petty, and More

Dec 19, 2019
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Welcome to Part 13 of Under the Radar's Holiday Gift Guide 2019. This one is centered on music reissues and box sets. It's part one of our reissues guide, with part two to come.

In terms of our Holiday Gift Guide 2019 we have already posted a guide about video games and two drinks related guides, one for coffee, beer, and wine and another for cocktails. Then we posted part one of our collectibles guide. After that we posted part 5 of our 2019 guide, which was about technology. Part 6 was the first part of our DVD/Blu-ray guide. And then part 7 was about board games. Part 8 was about toys for kids. Part 9 featured kid-friendly DVDs/Blu-rays, books, and board games. Part 10 was all about books and graphic novels. Part 11 was the second part of our collectibles guide. Part 12 was the second part of our Blu-ray/DVD guide. And don't forget that Under the Radar print magazine subscriptions also make a great gift. Plus donating to the charity of your choice in the name of the gift receiver is also a good way to go. 

 

The B-52's: Cosmic Thing (30th Anniversary Expanded Edition (Rhino/Reprise)

RRP: $18.70

The biggest album by The B-52's, 1989's Cosmic Thing, fuelled by their most iconic song, hit single "Love Shack," get the 30th anniversary reissue treatment. It includes several remixes of "Roam" and other tracks and a bonus disc of live recordings, mainly culled from a single 1990 show in The Woodlands, Texas (outside of Houston). "Tin roof rusted!" By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

 

The Chemical Brothers: Surrender - 20th Anniversary Edition (Universal Music Catalogue)

RRP: $92.37

The Chemical Brothers' Surrender still sounds as modern, fresh, and fun now as it did upon its release in 1999. This 20th anniversary edition includes the original album on vinyl plus a second LP titled The Secret Psychedelic Mixes featuring five previously unreleased remixes, including a "21 Minutes of Madness Mix" of "Out of Control" that takes up the whole second side. There's also another LP featuring select B-sides and remixes, a handsome LP-sized booklet, and a DVD featuring the album's music videos (including the iconic "Hey Boy Hey Girl" video featuring dancing skeletons) and the band's live set from Glastonbury 2000. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

 

Creedence Clearwater Revival: Live at Woodstock (Craft)

RRP: $34.99

For the classic rock lover on your gift list, Craft Recordings has issued Creedence Clearwater Revival's complete Woodstock set from 1969 in stellar audio across two LPs. Featuring 11 songs from the band's first three albums, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bayou Country, and Green River, the show captures CCR at its late '60s prime, before all the infighting tore the band in two. It's a tight, hour-long set that includes all the favorites ("Born on the Bayou," "Bad Moon Rising," "Proud Mary," "I Put a Spell on You," and an epic "Suzie Q." that takes up the entire fourth side of the 2-LP package). Housed in beautiful gatefold packaging, although without liner notes, Live from Woodstock satisfies on the strength of the audio quality alone. Fifty years since the classic performance, Craft Recordings has released its definitive document, and it's the second best thing to actually being there. Maybe better. By Frank Valish (Buy it here.)

 

The Cult: Sonic Temple 30 (Beggars Banquet)

RRP: $37.49

The Cult's fantastic fourth album, Sonic Temple, was released 30 years ago this past April, and with Sonic Temple 30, Beggars Banquet has released the definitive document of that seminal album across five CDs. The first disc features the original album, a rock tour de force featuring singles "Fire Woman," "Edie (Ciao Baby)," "Sweet Soul Sister," and "Sun King." The second disc features various singles, mixes, and extra tracks not released on the album proper. Discs three and four feature 20 demo tracks, including most of the album tracks, as well as the first versions of "Fire Woman," "New York City," and "Edie (Ciao Baby)." And the fifth disc is nine songs from a live show in Wembley Arena in London in November 1989, originally broadcast by BBC Radio 1, including an eight plus-minute version of "Sun King."

Revisited 30 years on, Sonic Temple still packs major punch. The demos here are revelatory of the band's process in constructing the songs. And the live tracks showcase The Cult at its most fierce. And not only is the story of Sonic Temple told from demo inception to live conclusion in audio form, its story is fleshed out thoroughly in the set's liner notes, something that every good reissue requires. As told by the band members themselves, the accompanying text outlines the birth of what would become Sonic Temple, comments on the songs themselves, discusses the artwork, and revisits the tour that lasted from May of 1989 to April of the following year. A stunning document that leaves no stone unturned, Sonic Temple 30 is the perfect tribute to a necessary album. By Frank Valish (Buy it here.)

 

Bob Dylan (featuring Johnny Cash): Travelin' Thru, 1967-1969: The Bootleg Series Vol. 15 (Columbia/Legacy)

RRP: $29.98 (3-CD), $49.98 (3-LP)

The latest, fifteenth volume of Bob Dylan's Bootleg Series addresses the years 1967-1969. By this time, Dylan had been out of the spotlight for a while, following a mysterious motorcycle accident. He was a reluctant star and hesitant do anything to that would reflect his "voice of a generation" past. He recorded with Robbie Robertson and the Hawks (soon to become The Band), which later became known as The Basement Tapes, but his next move that would yield new released material was to decamp to Nashville for 1967's John Wesley Harding and 1969's Nashville Skyline. It was then too that Dylan hooked up with Johnny Cash.

Travelin' Thru fleshes out this time period of Dylan's career in a three-disc or LP set of primarily unreleased material. Disc 1 features alternate versions and outtakes from the John Wesley Harding and Nashville Skyline albums. Discs 2 and 3 feature Dylan's recordings with Johnny Cash. A rumored collaborative album was discussed but ultimately did not come to fruition; the 19 tracks here, including versions of Cash standards "I Walk the Line," "Ring of Fire," and "I Still Miss Someone," are the true centerpiece of this set. The two songwriters don't always click in their duets, but this is the majesty of the sessions. Hearing Dylan and Cash joking and flubbing lyrics on "Wanted Man" is remarkable. The set then closes with audio of Dylan's television performance on The Johnny Cash Show, a couple outtakes from the sessions for Dylan's next album, Self Portrait, which he began at the time, and songs recorded in New York with Earl Scruggs and his children. Travelin' Thru is yet another tremendous addition to Dylan's archival Bootleg Series. By Frank Valish (Buy it here.)

 

Bob Dylan: The Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings (Columbia/Legacy)

RRP: $110.00 

Bob Dylan's archives are being relentlessly and systematically unearthed, to the extreme benefit of fans worldwide. And each extensive reissue project seems better than the last. This year Columbia released Rolling Thunder Revue: The Live Recordings, documenting the first leg of Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue tour of 1975. The previous year saw Dylan return to the stage for the first time in eight years, and this tour, with The Band, left him disenchanted. So he envisioned a "Gypsy caravan" experience that included Dylan and his new band, known as Guam, a 10-piece band including Scarlet Rivera on violin, T Bone Burnett on guitar and vocals, and former David Bowie guitarist Mick Ronson on guitar, among others. But the tour featured not only Dylan and his band but also a cast of characters, hence the "revue" title, including Joan Baez, Jack Elliott, Bob Neuwirth, and assorted friends like Roger McGuinn, Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, Arlo Guthrie, and Rick Danko and Robbie Robertson of The Band, who made guest appearances at select shows.

The Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings features all five of the professionally recorded shows from the tour [Worcester, MA, Cambridge, MA, Boston, MA (afternoon and evening shows), and Montreal, Canada], along with band rehearsals from the tour and some rare performances from other dates, across 14 discs. An extensive biography of the tour and time period is included in a book of liner notes. For Dylan fans, this is manna. Across these discs, Dylan is free and loose and backed by one of his best live bands. Set lists for the professionally recorded shows are largely similar, but the three discs of rehearsals and the bonus disc of fan recordings from other dates of the tour are revelatory. It may be a lot to digest, but what true Dylan fan has ever worried about that. To the contrary, it's a blessing. By Frank Valish (Buy it here.)

 

New Order: Movement - Definitive Edition (Rhino/Warner)

RRP: $106.54

New Order had a bit of a cultural moment recently when a version of their song "Blue Monday" was used in the excellent trailer for Wonder Woman 1984. The band's 1981-released debut album Movement has now received a Definitive Edition reissue. "Blue Monday" isn't featured on the album. It was a single released after Movement and included on some versions of their 1983-released sophomore album, Power, Corruption & Lies (although it's not on the album's official UK tracklist). Movement was borne from tragedy. After lead singer Ian Curtis took his own life in 1980, the remaining members of Joy Division regrouped as New Order. Movement's sound represents the transitional meeting point of Joy Division's post-punk and New Order's synth-pop. This reissue includes the original album on both CD and LP, an additional previously unreleased CD  of demos, a DVD featuring two American live shows (from 1980 and 1981) and British TV sessions (from 1981 and 1982), and a 48-page hardbound book featuring unseen photos. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

 

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: The Best of Everything - The Definitive Career Spanning Hits Collection 1976-2016 (Universal Music Group)

RRP: $68.34

Tom Petty, the singer/songwriter/guitarist who found success in the 1970s and 1980s with his band as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, died in October 2017 at age 66. This decade has seen many legends of his era pass away, some more untimely than others, including Prince, David Bowie, and Leonard Cohen. Petty was still an active musician when he died, leaving this good Earth only one week after the end of The Heartbreakers' 40th anniversary tour. As its title suggests, The Best of Everything collects tracks from across Petty's career, mainly centering on his work with The Heartbreakers and his solo material, but also his earlier band Mudcrutch. It features 38 tracks across four LPs. There are, of course, his best-known songs ("Free Fallin'," "Wildflowers," "Learning to Fly," "Into the Great Wide Open," "American Girl," "Refugee," "Mary Jane's Last Dance," "I Won't Back Down," "Don't Do Me Like That," and...damn, did Petty write a lot of great songs). The compilation also includes an alternate version of title track "The Best of Everything," which was originally released in 1985, and the previously unreleased song "For Real," which was recorded in 2000. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

 

Prince: 1999: Super Deluxe Edition (Warner)

RRP: $249.98 (LP/DVD), $69.98 (CD/DVD)

This year was a big one for Prince. He released the 15-track Originals album, which featured demos of songs he wrote and gave to other artists. His estate announced the reissue of three of his mid-'90s projects. But most notably by far, in conjunction with Warner Records, is the release of the deluxe edition of his 1982 double album 1999. Spurred by the hit "Little Red Corvette," 1999 went on to become platinum, the first double LP from a black artist to do so since 1979.

What makes this edition of Prince's landmark album so notable is the depth and breadth of additional content. Spread over five CDs and a DVD are the album proper, mixes and B-sides, two discs of rare "Vault Tracks," and two live concerts, one from Detroit on November 30, 1982 and one on DVD from Houston on December 29 of that same year. The package's liner notes beg to be studied along with the treasure trove of audio content herein. Journalist David Fricke and musician Duff McKagan write essays. Handwritten lyrics are reprinted. The story of how 1999 ultimately grew out of two disastrous 1981 concerts opening for The Rolling Stones is detailed. And the "Vault Tracks" are annotated to the delight of anyone who wants the story behind each of the tracks. It's a marvelous package, detailing for anyone who might be familiar only with the radio hits, that 1999 was so, so much more. Here is the proof. By Frank Valish (Buy it here.)

 

The Replacements: Dead Man's Pop (Warner/Rhino)

RRP: $79.98

It's rare that an album that didn't conform to its artist's vision upon initial release is able to be "fixed." But this is exactly what has happened with Dead Man's Pop, the box set revisiting The Replacements' 1989 album Don't Tell a Soul. The album's initial, Chris Lord-Alge-mixed release was driven by band management's desire to make the album commercially viable. And while the album did ultimately help The Replacements reach a larger audience, its initial youthful, searching vision was lost in Lord-Alge's ready-for-radio mix.

With Dead Man's Pop, the phrase an initial contender for album title, The Replacements' true vision for Don't Tell a Soul is exposed, while the history of the album sessions is told in audio and text form. In a beautiful LP-size package, Dead Man's Pop features an unreleased mix of the record by Matt Wallace, who initially worked on the record before the mixing process was handed over to Lord-Alge. This previously unheard mix is present here in both LP and CD form. And the album does truly sound different from the slick version released in 1989. Also included here is a disc of rare and unreleased tracks, including initial versions of album songs (and others) recorded during the band's first stab at recording at Bearville in New York, as well as assorted demos, outtakes, and five songs from a session the band recorded with Tom Waits. The final two discs of this 4-CD set are a 29-song concert from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, recorded in the middle of the band's Don't Tell a Soul Tour on June 2, 1989. A remarkable package of both audio and written narrative (liner notes include a lengthy essay by Replacements' biography Bob Mehr), Dead Man's Pop accomplishes the seldom-achieved feat of revising history, finally presenting a complicated album as the artist originally intended. By Frank Valish (Buy it here.)

 

Simple Minds: 40: The Best of 1979-2019 (Universal)

RRP: $25.49

There's more to Simple Minds than just "Don't You (Forget About Me)" and "Alive and Kicking," although both songs are on this new vinyl best of. The former was a #1 hit from the soundtrack to the 1985 film The Breakfast Club. Simple Minds were initially reluctant to record the song, as it wasn't written by the band and they usually only did their own original material. Keith Forsey and Steve Schiff wrote the song and Forsey also did the music for The Breakfast Club with Gary Chang. The band reportedly recorded the song in only three hours and assumed it would be a forgotten song from a movie no one would see. Instead it became their biggest hit. 40: The Best of 1979-2019 contains 18 of their songs, including the new track "For One Night Only." By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

 

Social Distortion: Mommy's Little Monster; Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll; and Mainliner (Wreckage from the Past) (Craft)

RRP: $52.99

Craft Recordings has reissued an interesting trifecta of Social Distortion records in Mommy's Little Monster; Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll; and Mainliner (Wreckage from the Past). Mommy's Little Monster was the band's 1983 debut, consisting of nine concise stabs at California punk rock excellence. The band, while not yet having hit its stride, speeds out of the gate with tracks like "It Wasn't a Pretty Picture," "Telling Them," and the title track, all songs of the pain and suffering of disenchanted youth running wild in the streets. The album set the scene for Cali-punk of years to come. Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll finds Social Distortion in 2004, past the highs and lows of its '80s and '90s heyday. Guitarist and co-founder Dennis Danell had passed away suddenly four years prior of apparent brain aneurysm at the age of 38, and Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll finds frontman Mike Ness confronting his past and his mortality, dedicating the album to Danell's memory. Musically, Ness has grown out of his earliest punk proclivities and into a more mature rock styling that included the country punk sounds he his later records evidence. And finally, Mainliner (Wreckage from the Past), originally issued in 1995, compiles early singles and B-sides, including a rollicking cover of The Rolling Stones' "Under My Thumb." Altogether, these three reissues represent a terrific cross-section of a vitally important California band. By Frank Valish (Buy it here.)

 

Stone Temple Pilots: Purple: Super Deluxe Edition (Rhino)

RRP: $64.98

It's been 25 years since Stone Temple Pilots released their seminal sophomore album, which is self-titled on all artwork but commonly goes by Purple. And who better to reissue and expand this release to celebrate but Rhino Records. No one does the deluxe treatment better than Rhino, and Purple is a stunning revisiting of the classic album. The Super Deluxe Edition features the original album on both CD and LP, as well as two additional CDs of extras. Reissuing the album in LP format means that the Super Deluxe Edition box is LP size, with all the benefits of such: sleek presentation, big vibrant artwork, and oversized liner book, the latter which tells the story of the album's genesis and production, along with band photos and reproductions of handwritten lyrics.

As is such with these reissues, while it is satisfying to revisit the album proper so many years on, it is the extras that satisfy the devoted fan. The second disc of this set features revelatory early versions and demos of album tracks such as "Meatplow," "Interstate Love Song," "Unglued," and "Angry Ants," along with the band's cover of Led Zeppelin's "Dancing Days" from the 1995 Encomium Zeppelin tribute album, and a never before released cover of The Beach Boys' "She Knows Me Too Well," from the Purple sessions. Also included on disc 2 is three live acoustic tracks from 1994's KROQ Acoustic Christmas show. It's a thrilling near hour of mostly unreleased material that wonderfully fleshes out Purple's history.

The third disc here is a 17-song live concert from New Haven, CT on August 23, 1994. The previously unreleased 67-minute show finds the band at the peak of its powers, a live set that features songs culled from both its 1992 debut, Core, and Purple. The hits are all here, performed in explosive fashion, along with the band's covers of Woody Guthrie's "Gypsy Davy" and David Bowie's "Andy Warhol." All in all a wonderful capper to a terrific reissue. By Frank Valish (Buy it here.)

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