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Music

The 10 best reissues of 2021

@TomTaylorFO

For all of the amazing music that has been released this year, we’d all be lying if we were to say that 2021 hasn’t been the sort of hellfire that has had us looking back into the seemingly increasingly gentrified past. Dry Cleaning and other new acts might have served up the sort of genuine originality that we haven’t seen for a while with a refreshing masterful debut, but sometimes the trick of evergreen nostalgia was the only medicine you needed this year. 

Step forward the beauty of reissues. They might burst the bank sometimes, but there is nothing better than acquiring a masterpiece in its newly renovated form. You drag them home, burst open the cellophane, like a kid on Christmas morning, then pour over the mix-up of musical goodies contained therein. 

Below we have collated the best reissues that 2021 has had to offer. From remastering classics for audiophiles to absorb to live albums finally getting the full treatment that they deserve, enjoy this slew of classics. 

The 10 best reissues of 2021:

10. Middle Class Revolt by The Fall

The best new albums this year have proved that Mark E. Smith and The Fall have never been more influential. With that in mind, you could also argue that Middle Class Revolt has also never been more relevant as the culture wars continue to unravel. The album is a riot as Smith vents his ever-flowing spleen over a patchwork sound that The Fall can truly call their own.

Lord knows what Smith would’ve made of the concept of coloured vinyl, but as with most things he probably would’ve been furiously ambivalent. For collectors, however, it adds a refreshing dash of colour to your Fall repertoire and the revamped artworks by the one and only Pascal Le Gras add some pizzazz to the spoken word of soot-cover spit and sawdust Salford personified. 

(Credit: Demon / The Fall)

9. I Trawl the Megahertz by Prefab Sprout

This symphonic masterpiece is an album that yearns for the rich embellishment of a fresh stereo sound. When we spoke to Charlie Steen of Shame earlier this year, he provided the perfect vignette of why that is the case: “The first time I heard the title track we were in Hong Kong, it was 5 am and we were driving to the airport as the sun was rising over the water. I have no delusions as to how fortunate I am to have had this experience, but I also have no doubt anyone listening to this song can be transported to a similar place of serenity.

“One of our managers, Paul, played this to me and it’s a song that will never leave me. I have no idea if what he told me was true, but I chose to believe it. The story goes that the lead singer of the hit ’80s band Prefab Sprout [Paddy McAloon] started going deaf at a later stage of his life. Traumatised by the idea of this, as his entire world revolves around music, he decided to put everything he had into the last record he’d have the ability to indulge in and create. If this is true, he conquered all that he set out to do. Listen to this as soon as you can, there’s nothing quite like it.” (I can confirm that both sentiments are true.) While this initial reissue was released in 2019, it has since been restocked with double black 180 vinyl and it sounds better than ever.

(Credit: Sony / Prefab Sprout)

8. The Amazing Nina Simone by Nina Simone

Part of the beauty of a reissue is the reappraisal that it offers. Nina Simone was the sort of artist who unleashed her creative work in a magical maelstrom that had little time to stop and admire the trail it had blazed. As a result, however, a few of her works have been left behind and your first step into her back catalogue can be a daunting one. 

Now, thankfully for vinyl fans, you can jump in at the very beginning and it proves as welcoming as any. The album sees Simone revel in her entire artistic arsenal, sparking gospel alongside jazz, soul and a heavy smattering of folk. The result is an aural smorgasbord of delights that already displays the many varied abilities of one of the world’s top three greatest ever singers. With an orchestra led by the legendary Bob Mersey, this all comes together as sweetly as a summer’s Saturday morning.

(Credit: Naked Lunch / Nina Simone)

7. All Things Must Pass Box Set by George Harrison

The debate will rumble on forever: which Beatle produced the best solo album? The answer for many people will be George Harrison with All Things Must Pass back in 1970. Despite being a year overdue, Harrison’s seismic post-Beatles declaration received its 50th anniversary in style, in a range of bumper box sets and added studio goodies. 

It was clear from the involvement of Dhani Harrison that this wasn’t some throwaway cash-in and it is clear that every detail has been poured over. The album has never sounded better and the slew of extras that it is surrounded with, gives fans a chance to dive back into an old favourite in a truly immersive sense—a sense befitting of the ethereal depths that Harrison was coaxing into his exuberant album in the first place. Unlike the rest of the ‘Fab Four’, after The Beatles, Harrison was truly unshackled, and the creative splurge comes to the fore in this celebratory collection. 

(Credit: Apple Records / George Harrison)

6. The Long Goodbye: LCD Soundsystem Live at Madison Square Garden by LCD Soundsystem

With one of the greatest live albums of recent times, LCD Soundsystem seemed to celebrate the culmination of one of a scene that blossomed out of nowhere and sadly seems to have withered away just the same. For a while, however, there was a new wave of bands either from New York or with a whiff of artistic industrialism floating around their miasma all the same.

The pinnacle is presented beautifully on this astounding record. In this vinyl box set, the walls drip with sweat and suddenly electronic key changes seem to add a zip to the stylus in an instant, as the frenzied air of Madison Square Garden in 2011 is whisked into your living room etc. Modern reissues have to fit the bill, otherwise, what’s the point? The Long Goodbye is a yardstick for other potential reissues from the 21st century to measure themselves against. 

(Credit: Parlophone / LCD Soundsystem)

5. Archives Vol.2: The Reprise Years (1968-1971) by Joni Mitchell

Blue stands alone as a singular masterpiece devoid of the need for a reissue in a state of timeless wonder. Archives Vol.2 offer a stunning glimpse of Mitchell gearing up to deliver her sorry blow in 1971 in scintillating style. The album has been arranged and reworked in such a way that you see her masterpiece work its way towards fruition in such a way that would be intriguing even for those yet to swoon to the majesty of her peak work.

Comprised of unreleased demos, home recordings, and a slew of other similar dust-covered tracks, this intimate insight has gems of its own to offer as well as illuminating the rest of her oeuvre. When Mitchell heard Dylan’s ‘Positively 4th Street’ she remarked that it made her realise you could sing about anything. Here you see her bearing her vulnerability as a strength, and that can be caustic or comforting, but it is always done with awe-inspiring talent.   

(Credit: Joni Mitchell)

4. Chet Baker Sings by Chet Baker

The greatest crooner of them all! With matinee idol good looks and voice as sleepy as a Sunday morning yet as stirring as midnight on a starry Friday, he was one of the first proponents of profound individualism, more so because he was brimming with so much soul that he simply couldn’t help it as opposed to some showy design. The same can be said for the almost sartorial reissue put out by Wax Time this summer.

With 14 little ditties that from ‘I Fall In Love Too Easily’ to ‘My Funny Valentine’ the masterful horn blowing crooner, crawls his ways through some of his most classic anthems from the era in an album that is perfect for just about every occasion. You don’t get records like this anymore, and the beauty of the reissue is that you not only find yourself celebrating that unique step back to a coffee-scented past, but you also scratch your head as to why and yearn for the sanguine beauty of life in the sonic slow lane once more. 

(Credit: Wax Time / Chet Baker)

3. Loveless (Deluxe Edition) by My Bloody Valentine

The reissue of Loveless comes less as a bonus honeypot for fans, but given the pitiful number that were originally cut, the classic comes back to wax as a necessity. With 16 engineers credited for the record (and reportedly 45 with unofficial credits) it is also a record that even audiophobes would agree requires the highest sonic fidelity.

In this new edition the amorphous sound is blurrier than ever. A great pink swathe of shapeless sound basks whatever room it is being played in as the bottomless depth of the masterpiece swirls around. There is something comforting about the darkness of Loveless as though its depth proves to provide a buoyant bed to float on top of, forever content not even to try and breach its surface. 

2. Déjà vu (50th Anniversary) by Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young

The filigreed harmonies of Crosby, Stills, Nash. And Young are prime for an audiophile to pour over. Part of the beauty of seeing any incarnation of this three (or four) piece live, is that the individual voices and what they bring is suddenly decipherable. Even the highest-end stereo-sound has been unable to render this effect faithfully. This 50th-anniversary box set comes close. 

With songs that call you to the sofa with a beer in hand, hard-luck has never sounded sweeter. The album blew every other folk harmony group out of the water when it was first released in 1970 and it remains the highest watermark. 

(Credit: Atlantic / CSNY)

1. L.A. Woman (50th Anniversary Deluxe) by The Doors

As if any further proof was needed that 1971 is the best musical year on record, we arrive at yet another 50th-anniversary masterpiece—and boy what a masterpiece it proves to be. As one of the greatest songs ever written ‘Riders on the Storm’ was the culmination of Jim Morrison’s atmospheric reverie, and as it tragically happens, his last farewell to the world. Amid this reissue is a Sunset Sound Demo version of the track where the bass rattles with the riotous earthly depth of a subterranean army of moles undergoing a mutiny. The reissue is worth the top spot for this demo opus alone.

Remastered to perfection the high-end organ tapping of ‘Love Her Madly’ is back to its shining acetate glory and the B-sides, session versions, and every other insight depicts a band at the top of their game delivering a masterpiece of such originality and none-stop bravura that nobody has ever even tried to emulate it. It is rare for a reissue of this magnitude not to be packed with pointless fodder, but much like the original outing, nothing is wasted on this rousing resurrection where the sixties finally fell to the mysticism of the new world. The bass on this thing is on hyperdrive!

(Credit: Rhino / The Doors)