Under the Radar’s 2023 Holiday Gift Guide Part 5: Music Reissues and Vinyl | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Under the Radar’s 2023 Holiday Gift Guide Part 5: Music Reissues and Vinyl

Featuring Lush, The Beatles, Prince, Billy Joel, Tom Waits, Charlie Parker, Air Miami, Beastie Boys, and More

Dec 14, 2023 By Mark Redfern and Frank Valish Photography by Mark Redfern and Wendy Lynch Redfern
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Welcome to Part 5 of Under the Radar’s 2023 Holiday Gift Guide. As you might expect from a music website, here we highlight some of the best music reissues, on both vinyl and CD, from the last year.

Also check out the other parts of our 2023 Holiday Gift Guide: Part 1 on tabletop and board games, Part 2 on classic films and TV shows on Blu-ray, Part 3 on modern films and TV shows on Blu-ray, and Part 4 on video games.

Air Miami: Me. Me. Me. (Deluxe Edition) (4AD)

RRP: $38.99

Air Miami were a short-lived band formed by former Unrest members Mark Robinson and Bridget Cross in 1994. Drummer Mike Fellow and bassist Lauren Feldsher joined soon after. Me. Me. Me. is the band’s lone full-length album, although Air Miami released various cassettes, 7-inches, and EPs. It’s an unheralded indie-pop gem, filled with short and delightful songs, most notably the catchy “World Cup Fever,” which has seen some further life in the 21st century thanks to its subject matter.

The new Me. Me. Me. (Deluxe Edition) includes all 16 songs from the recording sessions for the album, including three that haven’t been released before. It comes on handsome orange and blue colored vinyl that plays at 45rpm rather than the 33rpm that’s standard for most albums on 12-inch vinyl (beware, we keep forgetting that and starting the album at the wrong speed).

It was an unexpected but welcome choice for 4AD to reissue Me. Me. Me. and we’re glad they did. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

Beastie Boys: Hello Nasty (25th Anniversary Limited Collector’s Edition) (UMe/Capitol/Grand Royal)

RRP: $124.98

“Intergalactic,” Beastie Boys’ 1998 single, got a new life this year when it was prominently featured in the trailer for The Marvels, as well as in the final film. The Captain Marvel sequel does take place mainly in space and other planets, making the song, which references Star Trek’s Spock, a perfect fit for the intergalactic adventures of Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, and Monica Rambeau. An earlier Beastie Boys song, “Sabotage,” was a big part of the 2016 film, Star Trek Beyond, and a Fatboy Slim remix of the band’s “Body Movin’” also appeared in 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness.

Hello Nasty, the album featuring both “Intergalactic” and “Body Movin’,” had a very limited edition reissue in 2009 featuring 21 bonus tracks (including rarities, remixes, and B-sides). Now that reissue has been reissued and is more widely available. The music is spread over four LPs housed in an eight-panel gatefold package. It also includes a removable sew-on patch. Featured is the aforementioned Fatboy Slim remix of “Body Movin’,” as well as a Colleone Webb remix of “Intergalactic.” Beam us up Beastie Boys! By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

The Beatles: 1962-1966 / 1967-1970 (2023 Edition) (Universal Music Group/Apple)

RRP: $149.98 (LP), $59.98 (CD)

Last month, my 10-year-old daughter Rose and her Beatles-loving friend Finn got to experience something I never thought would happen in their lifetime—the release of a new Beatles song. “Now and Then” wasn’t exactly a new song, John Lennon’s basic demo of the song was recorded way back in 1977 and the then remaining members of the band (Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr) worked on the song in 1995 for possible inclusion on The Beatles Anthology before abandoning it due to the poor quality of Lennon’s demo. Harrison died in 2001, but fast-forward to 2022 and McCartney and Starr renewed work on the song, thanks to A.I. technology cleaning up and improving the original demo. Some welcomed “Now and Then” with open arms, others were more skeptical. Our response was “why not” and we awarded it #1 on our Songs of the Week list that week. The song also debuted at #1 on the UK singles charts.

In honor of what’s being described as The Beatles’ last song, the band’s 1973-released career-spanning compilations, 1962-1966 (aka The Red Album) and 1967-1970 (aka The Blue Album), have been reissued in separate vinyl and CD box sets. Both include “Now and Then.” Cheekily, on the LP version it’s positioned as track one of side five of six on 1967-1970, falling before “Blackbird” and “Dear Prudence” rather than being placed at the very end of the compilation as expected (although it is the final track on the CD reissue).

All the hit singles are here, from 1962’s “Love Me Do” to 1970’s “The Long and Winding Road,” and it’s truly awe-inspiring how much classic, iconic, amazing music the band released in only eight years (these days most bands might only release two to four albums in that period).

The 2023 reissue of 1962-1966 features 12 additional tracks not found on the original issue: “I Saw Her Standing There,” “Twist and Shout,” “This Boy,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” “You Really Got a Hold on Me,” “You Can’t Do That,” “If I Needed Someone,” “Taxman,” “Got to Get You into My Life,” “I’m Only Sleeping,” “Here, There and Everywhere,” and “Tomorrow Never Knows.” (How was “Tomorrow Never Knows” left off the original compilation?!) It also includes the original first pressing single version of “Love Me Do,” which features Ringo Starr on drums, versus the original compilation that featured a version of the song with Alan White on drums instead, and Starr on tambourine.

The 2023 reissue of 1967-1970 includes nine additional tracks not found on the original version: “Within You Without You,” “Dear Prudence,” “Glass Onion,” “Blackbird,” “Hey Bulldog,” “Oh! Darling,” “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” “I Me Mine,” and “Now and Then.”

Beatles fans no doubt already own most of these songs in some form or another, but completists will appreciate the renewed and revised tracklisting and a chance to listen to “Now and Then” amongst the band’s earlier hits. By Mark Redfern (Buy it on LP here. Buy it on CD here.)

Beck, Bogert & Appice: Live 1973 & 1974 (Rhino)

RRP: $149.98 (LP), $59.98 (CD)

There’s something about a power trio. Three people, guitar/bass/drums only, firing up an unholy racket belying their number. At its best, a power trio will blow you away. And Beck, Bogert, & Appice is one of the best. The short-lived group consisting of Jeff Beck after the touring commitments of his own band in 1972 and bassist Tim Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice, the rhythm section for classic rockers Vanilla Fudge and Cactus, made only one studio album. But now the live shows Beck, Bogert, and Appice recorded in both Japan and London are available as one lavish box set, perhaps representing best what the band was in its short time together.

Consisting of a cross section of tunes from the band’s one studio album and other tunes, these two shows, May of 1973 in Japan and January of 1974 in London, smoke. The sound quality is pristine, as if one had the good fortune of sitting in the audience for these shows. The concerts, consist largely of varied material, so it’s not like you’re listening to the same exact show twice. And the beautiful hard bound book that comes along with the set—in addition to a replica tour book and a giant poster—wonderfully complements the whole package with history and photographs. All said, Live 1973 & 1974 proves that pound for pound, Beck, Bogert, & Appice may have been the best power trio of them all. By Frank Valish (Buy it here.)

Candlebox: The Maverick Years (Rhino)

RRP: $149.98

For those still stuck in the ‘90s, revisit the post-Nevermind era with the best grunge band ever signed to Madonna’s record label, Candlebox. The Maverick Years collects all three albums the band recorded for the label, each on two LPs and in gatefold vinyl packaging, wrapped up in a sturdy black cardboard box. Of course, the band’s 1993 self-titled debut is the high point, with diminishing returns for ‘95’s Lucy and ‘98’s Happy Pills. The band wouldn’t release another record for 10 years after that, which may have been for the best, as their star had long since dimmed. However, for the nostalgia-prone, The Maverick Years is the place to both start and finish. Also included in this set is an extra LP of rarities, which includes the band’s cover of Jane’s Addiction’s “Mountain Song” and the earliest tune of which dates back to 1992. Beware: there is no detailed liner book of history/ephemera/recollections to complement this set. It’s just the music, bare bones and grungy to the end. By Frank Valish (Buy it here.)

Daft Punk: Random Access Memories (Drumless Edition) (Columbia/Legacy)

RRP: $37.98

Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories has now been reissued in a new Drumless Edition. This is your chance to hear “Get Lucky” and other hits from the album sans drums. It’s essentially a more stripped down version of the 2013 album. But since Random Access Memories ended up being the band’s final album before they broke up in 2011, these days this is closest we’ll get to “new music” from the iconic French duo. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis with Shirley Scott: Cookin’ with Jaws and the Queen: The Legendary Prestige Cookbook Albums (Craft Recordings)

RRP: $124.99 (4-LP), $59.99 (4-CD)

Jaws was tenor saxophonist Eddie Davis. The Queen was Hammond B-3 organist Shirley Scott. And in 1958 Davis, known as Lockjaw or Jaws, and Scott wento into the studio in Hackensack, NJ to record what would become the Cookbook albums, Volumes 1, 2, and 3, which along with a fourth album, Smokin’, were released on Prestige Records between 1958 and 1964.

Collected here as either a 4 LP or 4 CD set (the 4 CD set includes three tracks not included on the LPs), Cookin’ with Jaws and the Queen brings these legendary jazz sessions together in one place. Throughout, Davis’ sax plays off of Scott’s organ, and vice versa, in jubilant, lively instrumental performances augmented by the flute, baritone sax, and tenor sax of Jerome Richardson, the bass of George Duvivier, and the drums of Arthur Edgehill, each of whom display a virtuosity to complement the masters showcased here.

Davis and Scott continued their collaborative work through the next several years, releasing a couple more albums before moving on to separate pursuits. The four albums collected here are their masterpieces. By Frank Valish (Buy it here.)

Nanci Griffith: Working in Corners (Craft Recordings)

RRP: $120.91 (LP) $54.98 (CD)

Long before Other Voices, Other Rooms, the 1993 covers album that won her a Grammy, Nanci Griffith was just a girl from Texas of the with a beautiful voice and a song. Many songs. Wonderful songs. Timeless songs.

Craft Recordings’ spectacular reissue box, Working in Corners, collects Griffith’s first four albums, those that found a young Texas songwriter eventually migrating to Nashville and setting the world afire with her storytelling brand of country-tinged folk music. Griffith’s first two albums, 1978’s There’s a Light Beyond These Woods and 1982’s Poet in My Window, are spare folky affairs. But by 1984’s Once in a Very Blue Moon, she added a variety of more country- and even rock-inflections, reflected in a broader instrumental palette that included dobro, pedal steel, mandolin, fiddle, and electric guitar. By 1986’s The Last of the True Believers, Griffith had established her most fully realized set of songs, two sides of classic country folk.

Including a thick book filled with all the history you’d want to know and more, Working in Corners is the perfect set for any lover of folk music and top notch songwriting. By Frank Valish (Buy it here.)

Billy Joel: The Vinyl Collection Vol. 2 (Columbia/Legacy)

RRP: $322.98

In the modern age, old songs can find new life with younger generations thanks to social media and the internet. The biggest example is Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.” The British’s singer’s career was completely reinvigorated thanks to Rickrolling, making him one of the most successful one-hit-wonders ever. My 10-year-old daughter still loves to Rickroll her friends and her parents years after the height of the fad.

For some reason, my daughter and her friends recently discovered Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” from his 1989 album Storm Front. It’s a divisive track and either you love how Joel gives a history lesson on the mid 20th century in song form or you’re profoundly annoyed by it. The song came out when I was in middle school and I loved it, although my classmates didn’t quite get it when I played for them in music class. Earlier this year, Fall Out Boy did a new version of the song, featuring all new lyrics that chronicle the notable historical events since Joel’s original came out, from 1989 to 2023, including the September 11th attacks, Brexit, and George Floyd. It got a mixed response, but prompted Under the Radar’s college-aged intern at the time to reminisce on how her high school history teacher used to play Joel’s original in class.

Storm Front is included in The Vinyl Collection Vol. 2, which also features all of his other ’80s albums: Glass Houses (1980), The Nylon Curtain (1982), An Innocent Man (1983), and The Bridge (1986), alongside 1993’s River of Dreams. The rest of Storm Front sounds a bit too self-important and its late ’80s production sounds a bit dated, although “I Go to Extremes” is still an effortless delight.

An Innocent Man, which I had on cassette as a gift from my late godmother, is one of the highlights, as it features the hits “Uptown Girl,” “Tell Her About It,” “Keeping the Faith,” “The Longest Time,” and “An Innocent Man.” Joel’s soon-to-be-wife, model/actress Christie Brinkley, helped inspire “Uptown Girl” (as did Elle Macpherson, another supermodel Joel dated, lucky guy) and Brinkley memorably costarred in the song’s music video.

Surprisingly, River of Dreams remains Joel’s last rock album of original songs. The Vinyl Collection Vol. 2 also includes his final studio album to date, 2001’s Fantasies & Delusions, an instrumental classical piano album that is released on vinyl for the first time via this box set. Finally, this collection includes Billy Joel - Live from Long Island, a 1982-recorded 3-LP live album that has never been released in audio form, although an abridged version of the concert formed an HBO special in 1983 and a longer version of the concert was also released to VHS.

With Joel seemingly done with recording new albums, The Vinyl Collection Vol. 2 is the definitive collection of the second half of Joel’s recorded career. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

Lush: Spooky (2023 Remaster), Split (2023 Remaster), and Lovelife (2023 Remaster) (4AD)

RRP: $22.08 each

Lush were one of the leading lights of the original early ’90s British shoegazing scene, alongside Ride, Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine, Chapterhouse, Moose, Pale Saints, and others. They sadly broke up after the tragic 1996 suicide of drummer Chris Acland and it seemed like by the early 2000s the band might be largely forgotten beyond their core devoted fanbase. Singer/guitarist Miki Berenyi gave up music altogether, finding a second career as a magazine subeditor while also settling down to start a family. Fellow singer/guitarist Emma Anderson formed the new band Sing-Sing, releasing two albums with them in 2001 and 2005, but then also retreated from releasing new music. Bassist Phil King stayed active playing in other bands, such as The Jesus and Mary Chain. But then a new crop of dream-pop and shoegaze bands clearly influenced by Lush and other bands from their era emerged and music journalists started writing about Lush with reverence.

A renewed interest in Lush led to 4AD’s Chorus and Origami box sets from 2015 and 2016. And then Lush reformed to tour and release 2016’s Blind Spot EP, before alas breaking up again. Since then, Berenyi has released two albums with the new band Piroshka and last year published her acclaimed memoir, Fingers Crossed. This year Anderson put out her well-received debut solo album, Pearlies, on Sonic Cathedral.

Now 4AD has reissued all three of Lush’s studio albums on vinyl, all remastered by the band with engineer/producer Kevin Vanbergen. Outside of the Origami box set, the albums haven’t been available on vinyl since the 1990s.

1992’s debut album, Spooky, was produced by Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins and finds the band fully enveloped in the shoegazing sound. 1994’s sophomore album, Split, is perhaps the band’s most ambitious album, anchored by the seven-minute epic “Desire Lines,” but also found the band inching closer to more traditional indie rock song structures. The album was poorly received by the British music press at the time, but has since been reevaluated. The band’s final album, 1996’s Lovelife, found the band embracing Britpop, with more radio-friendly songs with humorous lyrics on songs such as “Single Girl” and “Ladykillers.” The album even features a duet with Britpop royalty, Jarvis Cocker of Pulp. With Spooky and Split Lush released two of the greatest shoegaze albums of all-time, with Lovelife they put out one of the most iconic Britpop albums. Few bands have so easily conquered two unique genres in such a short span of time.

Next, 4AD, please reissue the Gala early singles compilation from 1990 and/or 1989’s Scar mini album, although Gala includes all of Scar’s tracks alongside the beloved “Sweetness and Light” single. In the meantime, CD reissues of Spooky, Split, and Lovelife are due out in January. By Mark Redfern (Buy Spooky here. Buy Split here. Buy Lovelife here.)

Charles Mingus: Changes: The Complete 1970s Atlantic Studio Recordings (Atlantic/Rhino)

RRP: $199.98 (LP), $79.98 (CD)

Influential jazz upright bassist Charles Mingus died in 1979 at the relatively young age of 56. Changes: The Complete 1970s Atlantic Studio Recordings catalogues the last seven albums Mingus recorded for Atlantic: Mingus Moves (1973), Changes One (1974), Changes Two (1974), Three or Four Shades of Blues (1977), Cumbia & Jazz Fusion (1977), Me, Myself an Eye (1979), and Something Like a Bird (1979). Also included are various previously unreleased outtakes. By the mid-1970s the effects of motor neuron disease were lessoning Mingus’ ability to play his instrument. Hence, Me, Myself an Eye and Something Like a Bird features Mingus in composer mode, directing other players but not actually performing.

Despite his diminished capacity at the time, there are delights aplenty to be found across the collection for jazz fans, and some of the work is quite experimental for the time. Changes One opens with “Remember Rockefeller at Attica,” a composition inspired by the Attica Prison Riots of 1971 and Nelson Rockefeller, the Governor of New York State at that time, who refused to go to the prison or meet with prisoners and instead ordered armed police to storm the prison, resulting in many deaths on both sides. It’s a rare moment where jazz and politics collide. By Mark Redfern (Buy it on LP here. Buy it on CD here.)

Thelonious Monk: Brilliant Corners (Small Batch, One-Step Pressing) (Craft Recordings)

RRP: $109.00

Brilliant Corners was recorded over three one-day sessions in 1956 by jazz pianist Thelonious Monk, with a band that featured Sonny Rollins (who’s amazingly still alive at age 93), Ernie Henry, and Clark Terry. The sessions also featured Max Roach, Paul Chambers, and Oscar Pettiford. The album mainly features original compositions from Monk, with the title track being particularly complex and tricky for the band to master. Twenty-five takes were recorded, which led to much tension in the studio, and eventually producer Orrin Keepnews had to piece together the album version from fragments of multiple takes. Brilliant Corners is considered an essential hard bop album and one the best jazz albums of the 1950s (or any decade for that matter). Brilliant Corners was chosen by the Library of Congress in 2003 to be added to the National Recording Registry and it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.

Craft Recordings’ new vinyl reissue of Brilliant Corners is a small batch pressing, meaning that it’s limited to only 4,000 copies worldwide. The lacquers were cut from the original tapes by Bernie Grundman and pressed on 180-gram vinyl at RTI using Neotech’s VR900 compound. This is a one-step lacquer process versus the usual three-step process. This “allows for the utmost level of musical detail, clarity, and dynamics while reducing the amount of surface noise on the record.” The copies are individually numbered and housed in “a foil-stamped, linen-wrapped slipcase featuring an acrylic inset of the original artwork.” The reissue is rounded out by fresh liner notes written by music historian, journalist, and producer, Ashley Kahn. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

Charlie Parker: Bird in LA (Verve/UMe)

RRP: $99.98

Bird in LA collects various live performances by the legendary jazz saxophonist, band leader, and composer Charlie Parker in Los Angeles. It starts with a set from December 17, 1945 where Parker joined Dizzy Gillespie and His Orchestra at Billy Berg’s Supper Club in Hollywood. It was part of a two-month residency billed as “Bebop Invades the West,” with trumpeter Gillespie and Parker bringing the then new bebop sound to the West Coast. There’s a mid-March 1946 performance by the Charlie Parker Quintet (featuring Miles Davis on trumpet), recorded at The Finale Club in Little Tokyo. Another performance from that year, recorded at NBC Studios, features Nat “King” Cole on piano and Buddy Rich on drums. The collection stretches to some 1952 shows, including one performance featuring Chet Baker.

Bird in LA features mainly rare and previously unreleased recordings. They were given a limited release for Record Store Day in 2021, but this year the collection garnered a wider release, being repressed on vinyl and coming to streaming for the first time.

It’s fascinating listening to these recordings, sometimes with audience chatter in the background and applause in between songs, and imagining what it would have been like in the room at the time. The quality of the sound recordings varies across the 4 LP set, but considering Parker left us too soon at the all too young age of 34, we’ll take what we can get. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

Prince & The New Power Generation: Diamonds and Pearls (Super Deluxe Edition) (NPG/Paisley Park/Sony Music Entertainment/Warner Records)

RRP: $349.98 (LP), $159.98 (CD)

1991’s Diamonds and Pearls might not be as talked about as Prince’s 1980s classics, but it’s actually the music legend’s best selling non-soundtrack album (meaning second only to the Purple Rain soundtrack and just above 1999). The sex-obsessed album followed two other soundtracks—1990’s Graffiti Bridge (a sequel to Purple Rain starring Prince and directed by him, which was a huge flop) and 1989’s much more successful Batman. Diamonds and Pearls was the first album to be credited to Prince and The New Power Generation, with his backing band at the time being Sonny Thompson (vocals and bass), Damon Dickson (vocals and percussion), Rosie Gaines (vocals and keyboards), Michael Bland (drums), Kirk Johnson (vocals & percussion), Tony M (vocals), Levi Seacer, Jr. (bass, guitar, and vocals), and Tommy Barbarella (keyboards). The album featured the hits “Get Off,” “Cream,” and “Diamonds and Pearls” and came before a difficult period for Prince. For his next album, known as Love Symbol, Prince changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol in a dispute with Warner Bros. Records and was referred to for several years as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince.

Diamonds and Pearls has been reissued in various formats, the most notable being the Super Deluxe Edition, available as either a 12 LP set or 7 CD one. The reissue features 47 previously unreleased tracks, a treasure trove of completely unheard songs (many would’ve been worthy B-sides at the least), as well as alternate takes, extended versions, and more. Both versions come with a Blu-ray disc featuring music videos for the entire album (it’s essentially a movie version of the album) and two concerts. The first, Live at Glam Slam, 1992, was filmed in Minneapolis and has14 tracks, mainly culled from Diamonds and Pearls, but also featuring “Nothing Compares 2 U,” the song made famous by Sinéad O’Connor. Then there’s Prince’s performance during the opening ceremony of the 1991 Special Olympics at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, where he was introduced by Kirstie Alley and performed “Diamonds and Pearls” followed by a medley of “Let’s Go Crazy,” “Baby I’m a Star,” and “Push.” It’s a phenomenal performance, better than most at the regular Olympics ceremonies, let alone the Special Olympics. Also included is the soundcheck for the Special Olympics performance, recorded the day before. Plus the Super Deluxe Edition includes an impressive 120-page hardback book.

Diamonds and Pearls (Super Deluxe Edition) is simply a must-have for any true Prince fan. By Mark Redfern (Buy it on LP here. Buy it on CD here.)

R.E.M.: Up: 25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Craft Recordings)

RRP: $50.00

Next in Craft Recordings’ R.E.M. reissue campaign is the band’s 1998 album Up. Coming four years after the rock and roll turn, Monster, and immediately following their esoteric change of pace, New Adventures in Hi-Fi, Up leans more toward the latter, situating the band firmly in the more experimental phase of its career. From the spacey opener, “Airportman,” to the instrumentally minimalist closer, “Falls To Climb,” Up is not your typical R.E.M. album. It does, however, contain some of the best songs of the band’s storied career, included among them the orchestral “At My Most Beautiful,” the intense “Walk Unafraid,” and the effervescent “Daysleeper.”

With this reissue, released in a hardback book format, comes an a Blu-ray of surround sound and hi-resolution audio of the album as well as a few videos, and the piece de resistance, a CD of a an 11-song concert the band performed for fanclub members when the band appeared on the show Party of Five in 1999. The concert features favorites and new tracks and includes liberal band interaction with the audience. Unlike Up itself, this “Party of Five taping” will sate fans more accustomed to the R.E.M. of years prior, while still incorporating some of the new sounds which more defined the band’s middle years. By Frank Valish (Buy it here.)

The Replacements: Tim: Let It Bleed Edition (Rhino/Atlantic)

RRP: $89.98

The Replacements’ fourth album, Tim, has been one of the band’s best since its 1985 release, the exact point where the band of ramshackle pop provocateurs went from punk startups to the major label bigtime while perfecting their melodic rock sound. The problem was that the original release was mired by poor, tinny sound quality. Finally, with the Tim: Let It Bleed Edition, this colossal injustice is rectified.

The original album is remastered here, but the true gem and centerpiece of the set is the new Ed Stasium album mix. Stasium’s mix frankly makes Tim sound better than one could have ever expected. The instruments pop. Nuance is restored without sacrificing any of The Replacements’ fire and fury. In fact, in the original mix even that fire and fury was lost to a good degree. The clarity is remarkable. This is how one imagines Tim was supposed to sound the whole time.

The Stasium mix is available in this set both on LP and CD. The original album mix is remastered on disc as well and sounds better than ever, but you probably won’t go back to that one very often. As with these Rhino reissues (Pleased to Meet Me, Don’t Tell a Soul, and Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out the Trash have also been reissued in this deluxe expanded format), there is additional material, here as disc of rare and unreleased tracks and a live show from the Cabaret Metro in Chicago in January of 1986. Also included is a book of extensive notes on the album’s creation, penned by Replacements biographer extraordinaire Bob Mehr. By Frank Valish (Buy it here.)

Pharoah Sanders: Pharoah (Luaka Bop)

RRP: $54.99

Pharoah Sanders was already a towering figure in jazz by the time of his 1977 album, Pharoah. Some might say his best days were behind him by then. However, at the urging of producer Bob Cummins, Sanders and a most unlikely cast of characters, including his wife Bedria and other musicians he would never work with again, assembled to create a record that is as quietly stunning as it was perhaps misunderstood in its time.

This box set reissue features the album proper, remastered, as well as a live LP the features Sanders performing its essential track, “Harvest Time” on two different occasions and to remarkably different effect. Pharoah‘s liner notes say that in the studio “Harvest Time,” which takes up the entirety of side one, was largely improvised, or “spontaneous.” Perhaps this is part of the track’s magic, the saxophone and bass guitar interplay weaving in and out of each other magically before Bedria’s harmonium lays the bedrock for the piece’s final section. The second half of the album feature two tracks, “Love Will Find a Way” and “Memories of Edith Johnson” that also feature vocals and a less ambient soundscape than the ethereal “Harvest Time.”

One defining feature of this set is the obvious time, care, and extensive research that was put into its creation. The set features extensive notes that tell the story of the album’s conception and creation. It features an interview with Sanders about the album just before his passing in 2022, as well as a conversation with Bedria. The players are profiled. And various ephemera is also included, such as photographs, a news clipping, and a poster of the lineup for International Jazz Monmartre.

Finally, Pharoah can ascend to the fore of Sanders’ catalog. This is the definitive issue. By Frank Valish (Buy it here.)

Steely Dan: Countdown to Ecstasy (2023 Reissue), Pretzel Logic (2023 Reissue), and Aja (2023 Reissue) (UMe/Geffen)

RRP: $29.99 each

I once had some misguided animosity towards Steely Dan, when their 2000 album Two Against Nature won the Grammy for Album of the Year over two more progressive choices, Radiohead’s Kid A and Beck’s Midnite Vultures. Then in 2012 the Canadian band The Darcys covered Aja track-for-track, which led me to check out the original album and reappraise the band.

Aja is one of three Steely Dan albums that have been reissued on vinyl this year. 1973’s sophomore album, Countdown to Ecstasy, is also back on the shelves, alongside 1974’s third album, Pretzel Logic, which opens with one of the band’s best known songs, “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number.” The reissues don’t include any bonus tracks or unreleased songs, but no matter when the yacht rock classics sound this good. By Mark Redfern (Buy Countdown to Ecstasy here. Buy Pretzel Logic here. Buy Aja here.)

Tom Waits: Swordfishtrombones (2023 Remaster), Rain Dogs (2023 Remaster), Franks Wild Years (2023 Remaster), Bone Machine (2023 Remaster), and The Black Rider (2023 Remaster) (Island/UMe)

RRP: $29.99 each (black vinyl), $32.99 each (colored vinyl), $12.99 each (CD)

I first discovered Tom Waits via the 1989 film Sea of Love. No, the singer/actor didn’t appear onscreen. Instead the film centers on Detective Frank Keller (played by Al Pacino), who is tracking a serial killer who finds his victims via the personal ads in newspapers and murders them while a 45rpm 7-inch of Phil Philips 1959 song “Sea of Love” is playing. Soon Keller starts to worry that his no-nonsense new girlfriend, Helen Cruger (played by Ellen Barkin), is their #1 suspect. I won’t ruin the climax, but Waits’ then-modern-sounding cover of “Sea of Love” plays over the film’s end credits. I had the soundtrack on CD and it included both versions of the song. I can’t say that it motivated me to seek out other songs by the gravely voiced singer and my next exposure to Waits was likely through his ’90s acting roles in films such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Short Cuts, and Mystery Men.

But now UMe have reissued Waits’ middle period albums—Swordforfishtrombones (1983), Rain Dogs (1985), Franks Wild Years (1987), Bone Machine (1992), and The Black Rider (1993)—the music he was releasing around the time I first discovered Waits, allowing me to fully dive into his back catalogue. Island originally released these albums. The Black Rider features songs Waits wrote for the play of the same name, which was directed by Robert Wilson and co-written by William S. Burroughs, basing it on an old German folktale.

Waits and his longtime songwriting and production partner, Kathleen Brennan, have overseen all the 180-gram vinyl reissues, which were mastered by Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering under the guidance of Karl Derfler, Waits’ longtime audio engineer. These reissues mark each album’s first vinyl release in the U.S. and are available in both black vinyl and colored vinyl (with different colors per album), as well as on CD. By Mark Redfern (Buy it here.)

Yes: The Yes Album (Super Deluxe Edition) (Rhino)

RRP: $99.99

1971’s The Yes Album was the first high water mark in the career of prog-rock progenitors Yes. It’s not the first Yes album—in fact, it’s the band’s third—but it’s the first to feature guitarist Steve Howe, cementing a partnership with singer John Anderson that would last for the next 33 years. Howe’s spectacular instrumental “The Clap” and fleet-fingered picking on tracks like the “Starship Trooper” suite became staples of the band’s sound for years to come. And of course, “I’ve Seen All Good People” has embedded itself into the firmament of rock history.

This Super Deluxe Edition reissue features the LP remastered to vinyl and CD, as well as three additional discs—one of Steve Wilson’s 2014 Remixes, a disc of rarities (single, mono, and extended versions), and live performances from both Sweden in January of 1971 and Connecticut in July of the same year. In addition to liner notes that detail the album’s creation and a note from Wilson himself, the set also features a new Dolby Atmos mix of the album that brings The Yes Album into spatial audio format.

The Yes Album still sounds groundbreaking today; along with a few other bands, Yes practically defined a genre in the early ’70s. And this is where it all started. By Frank Valish (Buy it here.)

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