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Vinyl Tap: My Top Ten Album Reissues for 2007

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Though most of these reissues are replete with bells and whistles — extra tracks, remastering, super-duper deluxe editions, hot-and-cold runnning water — a few are of the no-nonsense refresher-course variety. All worth perusing and considering, however, to some degree. 

1) Elvis Costello – My Aim Is True (Extra Tracks, Deluxe Edition, Original Recording Remastered)

Okay, we’ve had Columbia, Ryko, Rhino, a single disc edition of My Aim is True in a Digipak and now this release — so there may be nothing essential for everybody here, but then again it does include session out-takes, demos and live material, with 26 tracks previously unreleased, and the complete Live at the Nashville Rooms, August 7, 1977 concert recording, one of the Attraction’s earliest shows (and the appeal for me). Then there’s the main Aim itself: It’s more pub than punk, and pre-Attractions with pre- above-the-fold News. It has plenty of bite without the all-out venom of This Year’s Model, pervasive pop smarts without the richly-layered propelled-pop production of Armed Forces, and is rough-edged without the raw immediacy of Get Happy. But with such songs as the perversely poignant “Alison,“ and the spittle-in-the-grooves tracks like “Welcome to the Working Week,” “Miracle Man,“ and “I’m Not Angry,” Elvis Costello’s My Aim Is True remains a classic of balladry and bristle, making it one of the best debut albums in the history of, um, debut albums. Now with the added attractions. And Attractions.

2) Warren Zevon – Stand in the Fire (Original Recording Remastered)

You’ll enjoy every sandwich listening to this ferocious and fiery concert album — one of the best live albums ever — filled with fervor and fun, amassed with cherry-picked cuts (“The dog ate the part we didn’t like,” states the liner notes). With Stand Zevon was at a peak performance level, trailing clouds of big-hit glory with radio staples like “Werewolves Of London” and “Excitable Boy,” and garnering critical kudos for such albums as a self-titled 1976 release and Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School. Zevon proves himself a commanding, expressive performer, and a strong personality adept not only at striking up the band but in revving up the crowd. At one point in the often gruesome “Excitable Boy,” during the point when our highly-strung titular psycho “dug up her grave and built a cage with her bones,” a blood-curdling Hollywood-style scream, off in the background, can be heard — right on cue. Send lawyers, guns, and money — the defecation has hit the oscillation!

3) The Dwight Twilley Band – Sincerely/Twilley Don't Mind (Extra Tracks)

The crossbred sonics of power pop meisters Dwight Twilley and the late Phil Seymour merged Beatlesque infectiousness with Sun Sounds rockabilly reverb with the initial and visceral no-nonsense wallop of the first album's first track, the hit “I’m on Fire,” setting an arresting tone for the 1976 12-cut debut Sincerely with its snarling vocals, propulsive percussion, British Invasion hooks, and swirling Byrdsian guitar. It’s a song that finds a counterpunch in the instrumentally taut but vocally frantic “England,” where indeed, “All you do is break my moods in two.” Alongside the terminally catchy and Searchers-styled “Three Persons,“ the folkish, mid-tempo “You Were So Warm” soars on exquisite mid-‘60s backing harmonies. The sublime and eerie title song pairs up Twilley’s double-tracked vocals with trippy guitar psych-outs that could’ve lent itself quite easily to some backward masking, unmasking a Walrus or two. Twilley Don’t Mind is not as consistent, but it does have its echo-chamber charms in such songs as “Looking for the Magic,” “Sleeping,” “That I Remember,” and the title song.

4) The Traveling Wilburys – Volume 1 and Volume 3 (2 CD / 1 DVD)

A group of nobodies make good. And they even avoid the dreaded “sophomore album syndrome” by coming out with two albums (1988, ‘90) without having a second release! Geniuses all!

5) Faces – Ooh La La (Original Recording Remastered, Import)

It was a tough call between this 1973 release and 1971’s raucous A Nod Is as Good as a Wink and even more ragged Long Player, but Ooh La La — the Faces last studio album as the group split in light of Rod Stewart’s solo superstardom — gets my nod for being one gloriously torn and frayed loose end after the another. From the boisterous “Borstal Boys” and the nudge-nudge “Silicone Grown,” to Ronnie Lane’s bittersweet and tattered title song, Ooh La La is a lively and rowdy I-declare for this remarkably ramshackle and raucous yet highly influential group.

6) Nils Lofgren

Glimmer Twins of the World Unite! Before Ron Wood from the just split-up Faces replaced guitarist Mick Taylor from the Rolling Stones, E-Streeter Nil Lofgren, after he had worked with Neil Young and disbanded Grin, was rumored to be under consideration as Rolling Stones guitarist. Instead, he signed as solo artist with A&M, and this 1975 album is the rollicking and affable result, though there still is the urgency contained in the message of “Keith Don’t Go.”

7) The Pretenders – Learning to Crawl (Original Recordong Remastered)

“Now we’re back in the fight.” Chrissie Hynde reinvents the Pretenders in 1984 with two new members, some great new songs and splendid results. “Our hearts were singing / It felt like Christmastime…”

8) U2 -Joshua Tree (Original Recording Remastered, Extra Tracks, Deluxe Edition)

Lots of bells and whistles in the reissue of this 1987 classic, including the fact that it contains a special essay by the Edge. Isn’t that reason enough?

9) Electric Light Orchestra – Out of the Blue (Extra Tracks)

It’s no Eldorado or A New World Record, but this double album, originally from 1977, has its moments of trademark ELO Beatlesque pop and classical arrangements.

10) Magazine – Secondhand Daylight (Original Recording Remastered, Extra Tracks)

Need the musical antidote to ELO’s terminally sunny “Mr. Blue Sky” when the “Sun is shinin' in the sky / There ain't a cloud in sight” and where “Everybody's in a play [and] It's a beautiful new day”? Howard Devoto and Magazine’s menacing and chilling Secondhand Daylight, originally from 1979, lets in sufficient gloom as “Thunder shook loose hail / on the outhouse again”:

    As the day stops dead
    at the place where we're lost
    I will drug you and fuck you
    on the permafrost.

Ah, precious moments for singles going unsteady.

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About Gordon Hauptfleisch

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    My Xmas list just got longer. Thanks

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    I’m still waiting for the reissue of the third Twilley album, caled just “Twilley.” Those first two are also great, but the third was always my favorite. On songs like “I Wanna Make Love To You,” the Brian Wilson-esque production sweep is just gorgeous.

    Great list Gordon.

    -Glen

  • http://gohah.blogspot.com Gordon Hauptfleisch

    EB: Oh there’s plenty of time, er, … oh wait…

    Glenn: Thanks for the reminder on that one–I’ll need to rummage for it, but I think I still have it, and anything with such a shimmering Wilson production is due for a resissue. Don’t discount solo Phil Seymour, though: his 1980 album had a hit with “Precious to Me,” but also had a great cover with Bobby Fuller’s terrific “Let Her Dance.”

  • http://www.myspace.com/x15 Douglas Mays

    Good choices! Faces, Magazine and yes, ELO are my picks from your list.

    Of course, the thing that worries me about reissues is the mastering of the product. How compressed is the sound? Modern day digital technology sounds like shit. The main reason I have never downloaded a single song onto my computer. Glorified transistor radio. A complaint I have had about music and the computer world since day one.

    The music industry will bounce back once people find out what shitty sound is. As long as the industry starts selling quality sound….

    Ooh la la,
    DM

  • http://gohah.blogspot.com Gordon Hauptfleisch

    Thanks, Douglas, for the the comments–well said.

  • http://jonsobel.com Jon Sobel

    Ah, so few Magazine fans there are it seems! Great list, thanks.

  • http://www.myspace.com/x15 Douglas Mays

    Gordon, thank you. You know what I am talking about regarding the remastered sound! Also, let me put in a thumbs up for your selection of the Pretenders.

    Jon, yes, a Magazine fan, for sure. Dig those posted lyrics to ‘Permafrost’! Oh, this is ‘Real Life’, hehe. My favorite tune by Magazine. I saw them once in Seattle, ’82 or so. Man, they had incredible live sound! Very crisp and full. Better than sitting at home listening to studio monitors.

    best,
    DM

  • http://blogcritics.org/video Lisa McKay

    Gordon, you’re weakening my resolve not to invest in another round of Costello reissues. Damn.

  • http://gohah.blogspot.com Gordon Hauptfleisch

    Lisa–
    I’m going to say it once again ’til I instill it:
    Hip-O Records wants you to make another investment

  • http://gohah.blogspot.com Gordon Hauptfleisch

    Thanks Jon, and Douglas, just want to put in my bid for the Pretenders as a great live act, too.

    Also, another fave from Magazines’ “Believe That I Understand”:
    Here is the lie of the land
    Once again, once again
    You squeeze yourself
    Out of your thin inner world…

  • http://www,towervinyl.com Bernie

    Gordon,

    Excellent post and Happy Holidays. I think 2008

    Should be a big year for vinyl reissues.

    Bernie D

  • http://gohah.blogspot.com Gordon Hauptfleisch

    Thanks, Bernie, and Happy VinylDays to you, too.

  • http://www.myspace.com/x15 Douglas Mays

    You know, amidst my complaints about remastering and the highly compressed anti-audiophile sound designed for computers and the digital world…Something that our wonderful re-issues suffer from…

    There is something out on the market for our audiophile consumer in this modern age. The ReQuest S4.2500 server. It restores computer compression to studio standards.

    Only $18,500!!!! Let’s all go get 2 of them…

    Oh, as an afterthought, I noticed a copy of Faces ‘A Nod Is As Good As A Wink To A Blind Horse’ on the Amazon list below the article. One of my all time favorite albums. It has a version of Chuck Berry’s ‘Memphis’ that is the most rockin’ thing you have ever heard…A creative interpretation, yet smokin’ rock.

    best,
    DM

  • http://www.myspace.com/x15 Douglas Mays

    Oh my god, how could I forget!!!!!

    JOY DIVISION ‘Unknown Pleasures/Closer/Still
    YOUNG MARBLE GIANTS “Colossal Youth’

    JD’s ‘Closer’ is one of my all time favorite albums.

    Anyway, throw those into the loop….

    best,
    DM