The best reissues of the year include a full Beatles immersion experience, an array of Philadelphia International Records 50th anniversary releases, Joni Mitchell and John Coltrane rarities, a Latin Soul dance party, a Bruce Springsteen live performance, a hip-hop classic from The Roots and a Philly jazz iconoclast receiving his due.
And much more. It’s time for last-minute gift shopping, and the packages highlighted here would serve well as bundles of joy for music lovers looking for physical products, the numbers of which are increasing with vinyl sales soaring by. 108% in the first half of 2021, according to industry analysts.
Online retailers can deliver most of the collections annotated below in time for Christmas, but order now. And don’t think of these collections just as expensive gift options. Much of the music featured here is not exclusive to buyers of physical products.
You won’t get the fancy booklets without spending some cash, but you can still listen to the 34 tracks from the triple LP augmented edition of “Do You Want More? !!! ??!” on Spotify, Apple Music or Tidal. So buy a copy for someone you love, then stream the music for yourself.
The Beatles, “Let It Be (Super Deluxe)”
After living the eight hours of Disney + “Get Back” by Peter Jackson on the making of “Let It Be”, I will no longer need to hear “I’ve Got A Feeling” or “Don’t Let Me Down “for awhile. But this six-CD box contains plenty of rare treasures, from the “Let It Be” mix from fashion plate producer Glyn Johns to Billy Preston singing the 1929 “Without A Song” chestnut to a debut “Something” with the lyrics ” Something in the way she moves me draws me like a pomegranate.
Beyond “Get Back”, it was a 50th anniversary reissue year of the Beatles’ two best solo albums. “All Things Music Pass” is the super deluxe version of the wittily seeking 1971 opus, filled with songs that were not of particular interest to George Harrison’s bandmates during rehearsals for “Let It Be”. (He is also promoted by the weird and fanciful celebrity-filled video “My Sweet Lord” which came out last week.) Emotional “Mother” and “Isolation.”
Philadelphia International Records reissues
It was also a big year for the label founded in 1971 by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, whose sophisticated soul shaped the decade to come.
PIR has celebrated its 50th anniversary in a variety of ways, from a company-inspired online visual art gallery that has gifted the world to McFadden & Whitehead’s “Ain’t No Stoppin ‘Us Now” to collections compiled in all kinds of configurations. physical via Sony Legacy Recordings and partner labels.
There is a single LP “The Best of Philadelphia International Records” with tracks from Billy Paul, The Three Degrees and others. The double LP “Golden Gate Groove: The Sound of Philadelphia Live 1973” relates a show in San Francisco. The best of vinyl dedicated to Lou Rawl, Harold Melvin & the Blues and The O’Jays is available at thesoundofphiladelphia.com.
British label Snapper Music-United Souls has an ongoing series of lavishly produced eight-CD box sets. For now, “Get On Board The Soul Train, Vol. 1” and “Satisfaction Guaranteed, Vol. 2” are available. And the Vinyl Me subscription service, Please, has an eight-album “The Story of Philadelphia International Records” box set to ship in February.
The Roots, “Do you want more? !!! ??!”
A three-LP reissue of the 1995 second album that brought the Philly hip-hop group to life with poetic tracks with jazz and funk textures like “Proceed” and “Mellow My Man”. Powerful and poignant, with an album cover featuring Black Thought, Questlove and rapper Malik B., who died last year. Bassist Leonard Hubbard died last week at the age of 62.
Hall & Oates, “The Philly Bands”
This limited edition vinyl-only version also bears the Daryl Hall & John Oates name, “Fall In Philadelphia: The Definitive Demos 1968-71”, which is an accurate description of what it contains. This Record Store Day release brings together 20 first recordings from the band’s folk-rock era, with tracks like “Perkiomen” and the prophetic “A Lot Of Changes Comin ‘”.
The substitutes, “Sorry, I forgot to take out the trash”
There is an ongoing reissue program of the catalog of the brilliantly unsuccessful post-punk band from Minneapolis of the 1980s, affectionately known as The ‘Mats – short for’ Placements – spurred on by Bob Mehr’s stunning 2016 biography of the band. , Trouble Boys. This fun and free set of four CDs and one LP brings together the inspired release of “Sorry Ma,” the group’s debut in 1981.
John Coltrane, “A Love Supreme: Live in Seattle”
“A Love Supreme,” the 1965 album by the jazz sax genius who spent his formative years in Philly went platinum – certifying 1 million copies sold – last month. This live set double LP single CD is an unearthed recording from October 1965 that adds to that heritage. NPR jazz critic Nate Chinen compared him to “a Da Vinci scholar finding another Mona Lisa.”
Elvis Presley, “Elvis: Back in Nashville”
This four-CD set focuses on the 1971 recordings and, like last year’s 1970 performances on From Elvis in Nashville, they are stripped of their original orchestral softening. Elvis, still in his prime after returning, seems focused and responsible again, while being cowardly and joking at times. This time around half of the set consists of Christmas and gospel material.
Joni Mitchell, “Archives, Vol. 2, The Revival Years, 1968-1971”
Joni Mitchell is celebrated like never before with the 50th anniversary of her 1971 album “Blue” and as the recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors. Volume 2 in Rhino’s expertly curated series features five discs of live performances and rarities for fans to bask in.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, “The Legendary Nuclear-Free Concerts of 1979”
The $ 500 million New Jersey man’s live performance at Madison Square Garden with the E Streeters at their zenith is captured here in a DVD and CD package.
“It’s a good, good feeling: the Latin soul of Fania Records”
This fabulously entertaining collection of four CDs or a condensed two LPs brings together soul and Latin dance music recorded from 1965 to 1975. Artists featured include Joe Bataan, Willie Colon and Ray Barreto. More obscure goodies come from bands like Butter Scotch, which show the dominant influence of Philly Soul.
“The Story of Jimmie Vaughan”
This seven-CD, one-LP set is a lavish celebration of the 70th birthday of a guitarist who is better known as a complementary player than a guitar god like his late brother, Stevie Ray Vaughan, but the music supports the care and the attention given to it. The ensemble covers the blues master from his early days in Austin, Texas, to his work with the Fabulous Thunderbirds and his current solo career.
Hasaan Ibn Ali, “Metaphysics: The Lost Atlantic Album and Retrospect in Retirement of Delay: The Solo Recordings”
In 2021, the late Philadelphia jazz pianist Hasaan Ibn Ali, who died in 1980, finally got the respect he deserved. Metaphysics is the 1965 solo of the influential and idiosyncratic player who was to be lost in a fire. Retrospect is a unique set of standards recorded in Philly in the 1960s.
Nick Cristiano contributed to this article.
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