By Chris Moore:
The BEST REMASTERS / REISSUES of 2010
This category isn’t populated by music technically from 2010, but it belongs here all the same. After all, with all the unsatisfactory, unimpressive remasters and reissues that are being released every year, it’s important to salute the solid ones.
Number one hails form the ever-impressive — and ever-overpriced — “Deluxe Edition” series. As with the DE treatment of the Blue Album, Pinkerton is dressed up with gorgeous multi-fold packaging and accented with a booklet that includes a note from Rivers dating back to 1996, handwritten lyrics to the core songs on the album, an essay by insider Karl Koch, and a veritable scrapbook of pictures and memorabilia in between. The music itself is quirky, dissonant at turns, and harmonically pleasing at others. The only criticism to be leveled at the plentiful bonus tracks is the repetition. I mean, I love “Pink Triangle” as much as the next guy — probably more — but are five versions really necessary?
The next two on the list are Clutch re-releases. True to form, Clutch is not simply going through the motions here. The packaging for both are beautiful recreations of the originals with nice accents added. The live DVD with Robot Hive/Exodus was a nice touch for fans like myself who will buy their CDs but not necessarily spring for other releases, like their recent live DVD. There are few booklets so thoughtfully produced as that with From Beale St. to Oblivion, and I can’t imagine any lover of albums and packaging not appreciating this one.
The Fables of the Reconstruction box is indisputably one of the coolest packaging designs of the year, though it would have been preferable to downsize the poster in favor of a longer essay with more insight into the making of the album, etc. The bonus tracks — the so-called Athens demos — will surely thrill longtime fans fascinated by the songs in their rough forms, though to my unseasoned ear the demos don’t sound all that different from the final studio versions.
The final addition here comes with a caveat. The four Badfinger remasters are excellent candidates for receiving more attention from modern music listeners, and the packaging comes through in terms of adding several bonus tracks and liner notes that are more than sufficient to outline the context, either forgotten or unknown to those purchasing these albums. And the remasters are significant, adding volume that was simply impossible on the original CD versions. However, as a good friend pointed out, there is something lost when the reverb falls away from the drums and the other aural artifacts of their early seventies production disappears.
The honorable mentions are included here, as I’m uncertain of where else to place them. The ever-excellent Bootleg Series should go without saying. Even a non-fan could appreciate the rich experience that is to be had by listening to and reading one of these releases, this being the ninth installment. The other mention is for Bruce Springsteen’s The Promise, a double-album of unreleased tracks from the Darkness on the Edge of Town sessions. The packaging is beautiful and the music, particularly for the Springsteen fans out there, is comparable to stumbling upon buried treasure.
Be sure to check back tomorrow, and then Thursday and Friday for the best lists yet: the Best Songs and the Best Albums of 2010!
1) Pinkerton – Weezer
2) Robot Hive/Exodus – Clutch
3) From Beale St. to Oblivion – Clutch
4) Fables of the Reconstruction – R.E.M.
5) The Badfinger remasters (Magic Christian Music; No Dice; Straight Up; Ass)
The Bootleg Series Vol. 9: The Witmark Demos (1962-1964) – Bob Dylan
The Promise – Bruce Springsteen