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Nostalgia always sells, and it provides opportunities for record companies to open the vaults at a time of anniversaries or simply when the need is there to haul in some extra bills. Although, sometimes they can provide something mouthwatering, so spectacular that in the century of streaming you are compelled to grab the credit card and blow caution to the wind.
With that in mind, I put together a Top-five, in order of preference, of what was re-released in 2019. Five I feel offer something special within the lavish packaging, which quite simply give more bang for the buck.
1.The Replacements – Dead Man’s Pop 4CD/1LP Deluxe + Cassette (Rhino)
The unhappiness the band had at the sound of Don’t Tell A Soul has now been rectified and is the basis for Dead Mans Pop. This is a radical transformation, the vinyl, and first compact disc contain Don’t Tell A Soul Redux The Replacements own vision for the album. Ths mix was done by original producer Matt Wallace, following the original layout for the album. Elements which had been tampered with during post-production, including drum tracks, tempos and vocal takes, all have now been rectified. Eagle-eyed fans will of course spot the altered track-sequence, again following the original, intended version.
This is just the start of the journey, the second compact disc is a selection of demos, alternate takes, including nine from the Bearsville sessions where the band originally started recording. These give an insight into the raw-form of The Replacements, featuring “I’ll Be You,” “Rock ‘N’ Roll Ghost”, “Achin’ To Be” and “Darlin’ One”. Along with this there are four songs (five tracks) which were recorded with Tom Waits who gives his own unique edge to proceedings,
The remaining two discs contain a complete concert from a June 2, 1989 show at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee during the Don’t Tell A Soul tour. All twenty-nine tracks display the raw, rampage of The Replacements. That hungry, explosive act which became a legend rip through “Alex Chilton” through to “Born To Lose” and “Valentine”, snippets (_Inconcerated Live_Ep) displays the band as the legendary, energetic and relentless machine they became known for.
2.Mercury Rev – All Is Dream Deluxe Edition (Cherry Red Records)
The All Is Dream cinematic album has received this deluxe treatment via Cherry Red Records, and now stands at a hefty fifty-three tracks. Released recently on December 6, this expanded set features the original ten-track album plus a disc of B-sides, outtakes and demos. Followed by a whole disc of unheard in-concert recordings from the accompanying tour and a French radio session along with the legendary John Peel sessions. Along with the Rev numbers are interpretations of “Streets Of Laredo” (Marty Robbins), “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” (The Beatles) and “I Keep A Close Watch” (John Cale) as well as newly heard compositions such as “Mascara Tears” and “Silver And Gold”.
The bespoke edition features the above plus an exclusive 7” featuring the previously unissued tracks “The Brook Room” and “Back Into The Sun (You’re The One)”, along with a hand-signed lyric sheet for “The Dark Is Rising”, three exclusive button badges, a 14” x 14” poster of the original album cover. And finally three 7” prints of the artwork from the three original singles “Nite And Fog”, the classic opening track “The Dark Is Rising” and “Little Rhymes”. Certainly something of value to hardcore fans of the outfit, however, the standard set holds the musical jewels, and the memorabilia is simply gravy.
3. Live – Throwing Copper 25th Anniversary Edition (Radioactive/MCA/UMe)
Through Radioactive Throwing Copper returned with a much welcomed overhaul and expanded across all formats. That includes the mouthwatering Super Deluxe 25th Anniversary Throwing Copper box set edition. Two slabs of vinyl, two compact discs, and a 12-page booklet with an in-depth interview with Live. The first compact disc includes the original album plus a selection of bonus tracks, “We Deal In Dreams”, “Susquehanna” and “Hold Me Up”. All this is thankfully on vinyl, making up the complete two LP package.
The second compact disc contains the career making Woodstock ‘94 performance. All eight tracks are previously unreleased, and is something to really get excited about. It is a performance that displays an incendiary band, hungry to make their mark. Featuring seven tracks from Trowing Copper and “The Beauty Of Gray” from Mental Jewelry. The sound quality is excellent, “I Alone” (Included below) is a peek at the quality, rounding off a celebration proper for an album which gained over 8 million in physical sales and achieved a cult-like status. Throwing Copper is an album which stands up against, and even surpasses most contemporary releases from the nineties. Proving without a doubt how Live were the band of the decade.
4.The Doors – The Soft Parade 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Elektra Catalog)
This expanded edition is a limited three-CD one-Lp set running to 15,000 units. There is something which comes as a surprise here though, many fans or even casual listeners to the Doors will already be familiar with The Soft Parade. But casting aside the first disc, the album itself, as already it’s an upgrade of the fortieth-anniversary release, the meat on the musical bones is the extras, for once strangely not throwaways. Five of the albums tracks -“Tell All The People,” “Touch Me,” “Wishful Sinful,” “Runnin’ Blue,” and “Who Scared You”, have had the brass sections removed (listed as Doors only). This gives a different slant on the album similar to the previous three with the band working as a unit. Also, Robby Krieger has added more guitar layers to three of those tracks.
The surprises continue with an indirect tribute to the late Ray Manzarek, over three tracks on which Ray provides vocals. These studio rehearsals, as Screamin’ Ray Daniels, include an early version of “Roadhouse Blues” with newly recorded bass parts by Robert DeLeo of Stone Temple Pilots. Finally, there is what I always thought to be the jewel of unreleased and bootleg Doors recordings. The full jam, or what survives of “Rock Is Dead” is here in its entirety. Over one-hour of improvisation covering the history of music, reasons to check out this set comes to a height here.
5.R.E.M – Monster 25th Anniversary Super Deluxe (Craft Recordings)
Monster came from the result of circumstance, the deaths of Kurt Cobain and River Phoenix, the uncertainty within the band itself and the fact they needed to project the anger and frustration felt around the globe in the early nineties. Activism was on the rise, the first vibrations of what has become a tsunami of outspoken awareness in what we are doing to the planet. All these factors created the incubator for Monster which is why a quarter of a century later, an overview of a critical album by a band who are no longer active is welcomed, and a beast that has mutated across six discs of glorious angst. On the face of it, it is another view into the inner workings of a modern classic. One which gives fans a more stripped back and raw feel to R.E.M.‘s most curious set of tracks.
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