The Shape of Punk to Come: A Chimerical Bombination in 12 Bursts
[Epitaph: Deluxe Edition]
Original Release Year: 1998
The Shape of Punk to Come: A Chimerical Bombination in 12 Bursts, the third and final album from Swedish hardcore punk band Refused, saw its reissue in 2010 and knocked us all on our asses.
Referencing a wide range of influences such as jazz musician Ornette Coleman, American hardcore bands Nation of Ulysses and Born Against, and poet Alan Ginsberg (“Worms of the Senses” is an allusion to Ginsberg’s long poem “Howl”) The Shape of Punk to Come rejected the mainstream sound of punk in the late ’90s and results in a brutal combination of free-jazz, techno, hardcore, and folk. This distinct sound that would go on to be emulated by band’s of the ’00s such as At the Drive-In (moreso on their last album) and Glassjaw.
Despite not being more widely influential, and despite the fact that Refused’s prediction for independent punk music never came to fruition, The Shape of Punk to Come remains a document of the most hardcore sound ever produced. It’ll truly shatter your spin if you play it too loud… and to think that English is their second language.
The 2010 reissue comes with two additional discs. The first is a live performance at the Umeå Open festival from April of 1998, while the second, Refused Are Fucking Dead, is a 2006 documentary about the band’s final year.
– Evan Kaloudis
Queens of the Stone Age
[Interscope: Deluxe Edition]
Original Release Year: 2000
“Feel Good Hit Of The Summer,” the first song on Rated R, is the best song Josh Homme has ever been a part of, and likely ever will be. Its lyrics: “Nicotine, Valium, Vicodin, Marijuana, Ecstasy and Alcohol. Ca ca ca ca ca Cocaine!” Something any liberal youth can get behind. And while Rated R did yield the minor radio hit “The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret,” it was generally ignored by the mainstream. Of course Songs For The Deaf was a different story, but history corrects its mistakes sometimes and Rated R’s reissue as the classic it was will be a music collection staple for the immediate future. A second disc of b-sides and live tracks were included and are pure icing, but the meat is the classic stony hard rock collection, which sounds just as good ten years later as it did when it came out.
– Philip Cosores
[Rhino: Deluxe Edition]
Original Release Year: 1989
In a year that was so throughly dominated by bands reunited it can be easy to overlook spectacular reissues like The Cure’s 1989 album Disintegration. The three-CD celebration features a full restoration of the original album done by frontman Robert Smith, a second disc full of demos, rarities and alternative mixes, and a third disc of a concert recorded at Wembley Arena in 1989. With The Cure’s expansive catalogue it’s never easy to decide on a favorite album or track, but there’s certain consensus that Disintegration is one of the band’s most pivotal efforts. The mostly moody and atmospheric album still contains chart topping singles like “Love Song” and “Fascination Street,” making way for universal popularity when Disintegration was first released. On the second disc you’ll hear instrumental demos highlighting unfinished visions of Smith’s opus. The Wembley Arena series was a monumental event in 1989, and the concert recording, which features every track on Disintegration, still holds up as a testament to The Cure’s powerful live energy. Reissues are usually targeted at the most loyal of fans, but the three CDs and a twenty-page art book make this package a must have for any Cure fan.
– Erik Burg
[EMI / Major Minor: 20th Anniversary Edition]
Original Release Year: 1990
Morrissey began crafting the follow-up to his excellent solo debut, Viva Hate, in the late 1980s, before record-company disputes halted the project. A disc entitled Bona Drag was released in 1990, but it wasn’t a new studio album per se—rather, it was a collection of singles from the last few years (including the Viva Hate tracks “Hairdresser on Fire,” “Every Day is Like Sunday,” and “Suedehead”) along with new songs. Like the classic Smiths compilation Louder Than Bombs, Bona Drag has long been considered an essential part of the Morrissey oeuvre despite not being a proper solo album. The collection spawned the classics “Interesting Drug” and “Last of the Famous International Playboys.” This 20th-anniversary reissue features six unreleased tracks recorded around the same time.
– Sean Highkin
The Witmark Demos: 1962-1964 (The Bootleg Series Vol. 9)
The musical chameleon label is often attached to David Bowie, but the term is perhaps even more appropriate for Bob Dylan. By 1965, he was a New York hipster who “broke” folk’s acoustic rules. By 1969, he was a Johnny Cash disciple. This was followed by a introspective period in 1974 that coincided with the disintegration of his marriage, and by 1978, he was a born-again Christian. Before all of that though, Bob Dylan was a simpler Minnesotan transplant trying to find himself in New York’s Greenwich Village. The Whitmark Demos, the ninth installment of Dylan’s Bootleg Series, documents the songwriter during his embryonic period as an artist; after his mostly covers debut album but before the career making The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. Dylan was already writing volumes of original songs, but it’s unclear whether he really planned to perform them himself. His untempered accent is stronger here than it is on his debut as is his emotional restraint. All of which suggests these rough drafts were created to sell his songs to established singers as was customary in the early 60s folk scene; a practice made obsolete by Dylan’s ascension just a few years later.
– Jason Hirschhorn
Darkness on the Edge of Town / The Promise
[Columbia / Sony]
Darkness on the Edge of Town Original Release Year: 1978
While Bruce & co. did a good job remastering his landmark 1978 release, Darkness on the Edge of Town, the reissue was overshadowed by its accompanying collection of never-before-released material recorded at the same sessions, The Promise. Composed of what the Boss determined to be the best of the rest, The Promise is a fascinating look into the breadth and depth of Springsteen’s songwriting during this fertile period in his career; from the altnerate version of “Racing in the Street” to a rousing edition of “Because the Night,” the songs on the album span the gamut of his talents; somber at one turn, joyously and unashamedly poppy at another. The centerpiece is the stunning title track, a continuation of the narrative begun with “Thunder Road,” and a rumination on how hopes and dreams that once gave us meaning can one day turn into crippling burdens as we face a life we neither wanted nor envisioned.
– Elias Isquith
[Columbia: Legacy Edition]
Original Release Year: 1970
Some bands wouldn’t have existed without The Beatles’ scraggly-beard era. Other bands wouldn’t have existed if it weren’t for electric-period Miles Davis. All joking and generalizing aside, you’d be surprised at how accurate that dichotomy is for many musicians. Bitches Brew marked a huge shift in the world of jazz, in that it made jazz a hell of a lot cooler in the rock circles—and vice versa. Bitches Brew is a living, breathing work of “jazz fusion,” a genre name that usually makes both guitar gurus and jazz cats cringe. But that’s the reality of it: Davis had become inspired by the jazz fusion scene perpetuated by bands like Weather Report and guitarist John McLaughlin’s own Mahavishnu Orchestra. Davis recognizes McLaughlin’s genius and builds upon it, keeping a lot of the classic jazz structure Davis was known for while mixing it up with melodies used in rock music. Add in Chick Corea’s electric pianos with those electric guitars, and you have a jazz record that was a sonic revolution to most people’s ears.
– Arika Dean
[Geffen: Deluxe Edition]
Original Release Year: 1996
Pure art is often spawned from tragedy and personal strife. These kind of albums are one of a kind, and can rarely be repeated. Take for instance Arcade Fire’s Funeral in 2004; written during the death of family members, the album captures exactly what they were going through during this time. These albums can’t be replicated because people don’t like to stay in these low moments, they try to move away from it as quickly as possible. And really, this is why albums like Pinkerton can never really be replicated or re-made. Pinkerton at its very core is an album about love. Not the cliché and over used caricatures often found in music; it’s a brutally honest view of it. At times, Rivers come across as being psychotic, almost pathetic, but not so much when you’ve realized you yourself have been in that position at least once in your life. Pinkerton is the quintessential album that really captures what it’s like to be in love, the good and the bad, and the fucked up. It would be easy to just say Rivers wore his heart on his sleeve when writing this album, but that is an understatement when you admit to the world that you thought the girl you would marry turned out to be a lesbian. When you put that much of yourself out to the world, it’s not surprising Rivers was crushed when people panned it at the time. Pinkerton will also be known as the turning point for the band (for better or worse). But with good reason, when you follow up an incredible debut with a perfect album, the band set the bar extremely high early on. It’s ultimate legacy will be of one of the most pure and honest albums ever made.
– Brent Koepp
The Rolling Stones
Exile on Main St.
[Universal: Deluxe Edition]
Original Release Year: 1972
Finally, finally, finally The Rolling Stones’ Polydor years have been reissued after what seemed like a lifetime after the Decca years. In fact, the current batch of reissues are making me think it’s time to re-do the Decca ones, just to bring them in line with these. How fitting that the series’ marquee reissue is the critically acclaimed Exile on Main St.. What’s refreshing about this reissue is it is simple (I’m basing my review on the 2 disc version, by the way), but more on that later. The sound is gorgeous; it’s entirely likely the waveforms have been pushed to high and the music is too loud, but who cares! Every instrument, handclap, vocal line shines through loud and clear. There’s still a hectic nature to the album – it isn’t too clean. The sax on “Sweet Virginia” sounds like it’s being played right next to you, “Rocks Off” is raw and energetic, and “Shine A Light” is even more grandiose sounding. So, simplicity; the packaging is a simple fold-out digipak in a slipcase and the B-sides aren’t cluttered with 30 second outtakes and multiple versions of the same songs, just plainly the songs that didn’t make it to the original cut. It’s a classy, simple and great sounding reissue that needs to be in every home.
– Daniel Griffiths
Station to Station
[Virgin: Deluxe Edition]
Original Release Year: 1976
David Bowie by his own admission can barely remember making Station to Station, but it might be his best album ever. Splitting the difference between the funk of the previous year’s Young Americans and the art-rock of the more-celebrated Berlin trilogy that followed it, songs like “Golden Years” and the underrated ballad “Word on a Wing” are as good uses of Bowie’s voice as anything else he’s done. This reissue is highlighted by a solid mastering job and the official release of a much-bootlegged Nassau Coliseum show from 1976 in which Bowie and his fantastic touring band tear through new material and Ziggy Stardust classics.
– Sean Highkin