As we kick off a new year of music and mayhem, it’s only fitting to take a look back at the past year to reflect on what went down.
As it turns out, catalog stuff (reissues, compilations, box sets) is one of the last bastions of brisk business for major record labels and it’s an area that still remains massively profitable. You can’t download or share a plush box set or slick digipack.
For those of us who still like having the real thing, there’s nothing better than getting a brand-new new deluxe version of it. Here you’ll find some top picks for this past year.
1. Sisters Of Mercy: Floodland Era Collection vinyl Box Set
This massive, high-quality vinyl set from the leading lights of the UK goth scene came as quite a surprise in 2015, given that the band has released no new material in two decades. This reissue more than makes up for it, containing the original 1987 LP, plus all of the 12” singles from the era, all in a deluxe box. (Rhino)
2. Alice Cooper, Muscle Of Love Hybrid SACD
Alice’s kooky 1973 LP underwent a high-end remaster this past year with this killer SACD release. Sounding crisper and cleaner than ever, the raunch still remains, especially in the title track, “Big Apple Dreamin’ (Hippo)” and “Teenage Lament ’74.” (Audio Fidelity)
3. Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers, Live At Max’s Volumes 1 & 2 LP
Junkie poet and punk-guitar innovator Johnny Thunders got further immortalized in this meticulous vinyl reissue. Featuring a thick gatefold and two thick splatter-color slabs of vinyl, this is the ultimate edition of this infamous live outing. (Jungle)
4. The Dictators, Go Girl Crazy! 40th Anniversary Edition
Punk pioneers The Dictators have finally gotten their due in this comprehensive remastered reissue. The kind folks at Real Gone Records have compiled a killer release which features all the album tracks with sterling new mastering, plus bonus tracks remixed by uber-fan Andrew W.K., all packaged neat and tidy. (Real Gone)
5. Faith No More, The Real Thing/Angel Dust (Rhino)
Rhino Records did a bang-up job at reissuing two of FNM’s best releases, along with loads of bonus tracks, essays and plush packaging.
6. Van Halen, Van Halen vinyl
Perhaps the greatest debut in the annals of hard rock, the 1978 Van Halen release received a killer vinyl reissue in 2015—making the guitars sound warmer, the drums louder and David Lee Roth’s vocal antics even more unhinged. A classic through and through, the instrumental “Eruption” still smokes the competition to this day. (Rhino)
7. Any Trouble, Present Tense
UK underground power pop heroes Any Trouble reunited a few years back and have now cranked out a full album of all-new material. Slightly more mature than the stuff of yore, this one’s still a stunner and comes loaded with sprite and crunchy numbers like “Great Big City” and “Rocking Horse.” (Cherry Red)
8. Alcatrazz, No Parole From Rock N Roll: Expanded Edition
This remastered and expanded reissue showcases the brief, but caustic collaboration between hard rock vets Graham Bonnet and Yngwie Malmsteen in the band Alcatrazz. This 2015 release showcases the 1983 album along with 10 insightful instrumental demos. (Cherry Red)
9. Ramones, Loco Live
This reissue features a live warts-n-all live set from the kings of punk and is noteworthy for being CJ Ramone’s first live recording with the band in 1991. This new vinyl issue comes complete on thick, high-quality wax and meticulously rendered cover art. (Let Them Eat Vinyl)
10. Jobriath A.D. LP/DVD
This stealth film and soundtrack release centered on one of rock’s more tragic figures, ’70s glam maven Jobriath. The first openly gay musician on a major label, the poor sap got put through the ringer, eventually fading into obscurity and passing away. But prior to all that, the mad genius released two amazing records. This release tells of the whole sordid tale and it’s a riveting ride. (MVD)
This first column of 2016 is dedicated to David Bowie, Lemmy, Nick Marsh, Steve Strange, Philthy Animal Taylor and Christopher Lee—personal heroes who all will be sorely missed.
For questions, comments or something you’d like to see, hit me up at Retrohead77@yahoo.com. Cheers, JK.