Reissue Roundup: Summer Sets From Blondie, Lou Reed and More
The best summer 2022 reissues included an appetizing mix of career box sets, unreleased recordings, lost albums and forgotten demos tucked away on shelves.
Surveying the archival releases found in the below Reissue Roundup, it's safe to say some of them were expected: more remastered Kinks albums celebrating silver anniversaries, another volume of jazz great Miles Davis' Bootleg Series and even another previously shelved Neil Young album, this one dating from the start of the millennium.
But some of these box sets and multi-disc collections came as surprises – particularly Blondie's first-ever box set, a massive collection focusing on their first eight years, and the launch of a new Lou Reed archival series with an album of demos recorded in 1965, including a handful of songs that became classics for the legendary Velvet Underground.
The past three months of reissues also uncovered the first solo compilation from Christine McVie and an expanded version of a metal classic: Dio's debut album, which will celebrate its 40th anniversary next year. All this plus a disc of previously unreleased recordings by a '70s record executive who stashed away tapes for his private collection and more.
Brian Auger, Julie Driscoll & the Trinity, Far Horizons
What It Is: Organist Brian Auger came out of the same London scene that spawned so many rock giants in the '60s. His resume includes work with artists as diverse as Jimi Hendrix, Rod Stewart, Sonny Boy Williamson and Tony Williams. He brings it all here.
What's on It: He was at his best on the four albums he made with singer Julie Driscoll and backing band Trinity. Those records – including 1969's free-form Streetnoise – are included in this box. They grabbed inspiration from pop, rock, jazz and prog.
Best Song You Know: Their 1968 cover of the Bob Dylan/Rick Danko collaboration "This Wheel's on Fire" was never on an album, so that's missing. But Auger and Driscoll's versions of Donovan's "Season of the Witch" (from 1967's debut) and the Doors' "Light My Fire" (from Streetnoise) are.
Best Song You Don't Know: Auger was a master of the Hammond (that's him on the Yardbirds' "For Your Love"), and the four LPs he made with Driscoll and Trinity remain his strongest, most cohesive records. Nothing unreleased but all worth rediscovering.
Blondie, Blondie: Against the Odds 1974-1982
What It Is: Blondie's first box set highlights their initial decade, collecting B-sides, outtakes, remixes and demos, along with their first six albums in their entirety, in one of the year's best archival releases. The definitive word on one of the era's best bands.
What's on It: More than 120 tracks, including three dozen previously unreleased cuts, document the group's rise from '60s pop-loving New Yorkers to a key act in the punk, new wave and disco scenes. They even got to No. 1 with a rap song in 1981.
Best Song You Know: "Heart of Glass," "Call Me," "The Tide Is High" and "Rapture" all reached No. 1, and all of them are here. So are singles like "Dreaming" and "Atomic" (both from 1979's Eat to the Beat) that should have hit the top, too.
Best Song You Don't Know: Early demos and recordings reveal Blondie's raw roots: "Mr. Sightseer," with its girl-group warmth; "I Love You Honey, Give Me a Beer," an early version of Autoamerican's "Go Through It"; and a cover of the Doors' "Moonlight Drive."
Miles Davis, That's What Happened 1982-1985: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 7
What It Is: The latest volume of Miles Davis' Bootleg Series collects 28 tracks over three discs, a mix of studio recordings and live cuts. Only two of the studio songs have been released before; the live set was released as part of 2022's Record Store Day.
What's on It: The first disc includes tracks from 1983's Star People and 1984's Decoy sessions, while disc two features unreleased songs from 1985's You're Under Arrest and the final disc contains live recordings from July 1983 at Montreal's Theatre St. Denis.
Best Song You Know: The jazz great's take on Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" was celebrated upon its 1985 release, and the alternate and full-session versions on That's What Happened explore how Davis shaped the song to his style and genre.
Best Song You Don't Know: The same sessions that yielded the Lauper cover also included a cover of Tina Turner's "What's Love Got to Do With It," which didn't make it to the album. It's uncovered here and distinctly Davis in its spare approach and beauty.
Dio, Holy Diver Super Deluxe Edition
What It Is: This four-disc box celebrates the debut album from Ronnie James Dio's band and includes outtakes, live recordings and previously unreleased mixes. It still sounds like a pivotal moment in metal history, with new mixes and remasters pushing it along.
What's on It: Two different versions of the 1983 album are here: a 2022 Joe Barresi Mix and 2022 remaster. They're more for fans who want to dive into the corners of the metal classic. The "Outtakes, Singles and B-Sides" disc is the real draw.
Best Song You Know: The title track and "Rainbow in the Dark" were vindication for the 41-year-old Dio following his departure from Black Sabbath after two career-saving LPs. Holy Diver slammed against the currents of popular music in 1983. It still shakes.
Best Song You Don't Know: Producer Barresi went back to the original analog tapes for the new remix of Holy Diver. It all sounds more forceful now, but check out the title song, which emphasizes Vivian Campbell's guitars and Dio's demon-summoning voice.
The Kinks, Muswell Hillbillies/Everybody’s in Show-Biz - Everybody’s a Star
What It Is: A pair of albums from the Kinks' first years at RCA are remastered for their 50th anniversaries: 1971's Muswell Hillbillies and 1972's Everybody's in Show-Biz - Everybody's a Star. The former remains a highlight of their career.
What's on It: New and previously unreleased Ray Davies remixes are the attraction for collectors and fans, but the remastered albums are the real pull. The double Everybody's in Show-Biz's concert disc sheds new light on this neglected LP and era.
Best Song You Know: "Celluloid Heroes" is one of the Kinks' best later songs, and it caps the murky concept at the center of Everybody's in Show-Biz. Likewise, "Muswell Hillbilly" anchors its album, but is more of a piece with its often underrated record.
Best Song You Don't Know: A new version of "Celluloid Heroes" – referred to as "U.S. Single Version 2022 Edit" - pulls the melancholy from one of Davies' most reflective songs. It's an enticing sampling of these silver-anniversary remasters.
Christine McVie, Songbird (A Solo Collection)
What It Is: The first set to focus on the solo career of Fleetwood Mac's ace in the hole collects songs from just two of her solo albums, bypassing one made in 1970 as Christine Perfect and a collaboration LP with Lindsey Buckingham from 2017.
What's on It: Most tracks are from Christine McVie's 2004 album In the Meantime; a few were on 1984's self-titled record, made during a band hiatus. Two unreleased recordings plus a new orchestral version of Mac's classic "Songbird" round out the set.
Best Song You Know: Curiously, the two Top 30 hits – "Got a Hold on Me" and "Love Will Show Us How" – from the 1984 LP are missing. The reworked "Songbird," featuring McVie's original Rumours vocal with new lush backing music, is a highlight.
Best Song You Don't Know: "Slowdown" was written for the 1985 Kevin Costner film American Flyers but was rejected. It stands out on Songbird (A Solo Collection) as sweet, tuneful pop – the sort McVie has excelled at for the past 50 years.
Neu!, NEU! 50!
What It Is: Neu!'s 1972 self-titled debut is a cornerstone krautrock record. For its 50th anniversary, the band's four studio albums are collected in a box along with a new 10-track tribute LP featuring remixes by the National, Mogwai and others.
What's on It: The band's first three albums – 1972's Neu!, 1973's Neu! 2 and 1975's Neu! 75 – rank among the greatest krautrock records ever made. They've lost none of their influence or significance over the decades, as the tribute album attests.
Best Song You Know: "Hallogallo," the 10-minute opener from the first album, was a powerful introduction to Neu! It's the first thing you hear on this five-disc box, too, and it remains a world-shifting track capable of blowing minds all these years later.
Best Song You Don't Know: New Order's Stephen Morris, with Gabe Gurnsey, remixes "Hallogallo," trimming it by four minutes and giving it a modern-day coat. Neu!'s original work is a mere foundation for this propelling mix that spirals in new directions.
Lou Reed, Words & Music, May 1965
What It Is: Lou Reed recorded some songs in 1965 and mailed them to himself as a sort of copyright. The tapes sat untouched in his office for decades. After his 2013 death, they were discovered. The 11 tracks are a fascinating look at Reed's early years.
What's on It: Demo versions of Velvet Underground classics "I'm Waiting for the Man," "Heroin" and "Pale Blue Eyes" strip the songs to their core of just voice and guitar. Other early Velvets demos are available elsewhere; these are the most intimate.
Best Song You Know: None of these songs has been released before in this form. The three early Velvet Underground cuts are the most interesting because of the paths they eventually took. This is the first volume of a new Lou Reed Archive Series.
Best Song You Don't Know: A rough take on "I'm Waiting for the Man" from the May 1965 demo reveals just how far ahead Reed was as a songwriter during the pre-Summer of Love era when people weren't writing about meeting up with drug dealers.
The Sons of Adam, Saturday's Sons: The Complete Recordings 1964-1966
What It Is: The first anthology by Los Angeles garage rockers that included future members of Blue Cheer and Love collects everything they recorded, from their early surf records to the proto-psychedelic songs that the region would become known for.
What's on It: In addition to the Sons of Adam's brief recording catalog – a handful of singles, including a cover of the Yardbirds' "You're a Better Man Than I" – Saturday's Sons includes demos, outtakes and live performances from the Avalon Ballroom.
Best Song You Know: None of the band's three singles charted; neither did the pair released by the earlier group the Fender IV. But their final 45, "Feathered Fish," was written by Love's Arthur Lee as a way to convince Adam's drummer to join. He did.
Best Song You Don't Know: Most of the 24 songs were never released, and the half-century-old singles are rare. So, The Complete Recordings essentially serves as an introduction to these ragged garage rockers. Start with the galloping "Saturday's Son."
Tall Dwarfs, Unravelled: 1981-2002
What It Is: The New Zealand duo formed in 1981 with few expectations: They were supposed to record one record and break up. They've since made six albums and even more EPs, the last arriving in 2002 before a stroke sidelined one of them.
What's on It: The 55 songs on Unravelled offer substantive proof of their reputation as lo-fi pioneers. Their DIY approach to music – Tall Dwarfs banged on objects found around the house instead of using a drummer – has sparked indie artists for four decades.
Best Song You Know: "Nothing's Going to Happen," the opening track on their debut EP, 1981's Three Songs, is a good start: a four-track recording featuring just Chris Knox, Alec Bathgate, a guitar and some homemade weirdness.
Best Song You Don't Know: Tall Dwarfs' reputation grew in the '90s when bands from the Elephant 6 collective like Neutral Milk Hotel and the Olivia Tremor Control began praising them. There's nothing new on this two-disc set, but it's all ripe for rediscovering.
Neil Young With Crazy Horse, Toast
What It Is: In 2001, Neil Young and Crazy Horse recorded an album called Toast. Like many Young albums over the decades, it was scrapped and replaced by another record. Now, the original seven-song collection finally sees the light of the day.
What's on It: Young has said that Toast was too sad to release at the time, so he replaced it with Are You Passionate?, recorded with Booker T. & the MG's and featuring a couple of songs originally slated for Toast. Several songs run Crazy Horse long.
Best Song You Know: "Quit" and "Goin' Home" ended up on 2002's Are You Passionate? in more soulful takes. Crazy Horse gives them a new bite, revealing the scars of Young's deteriorating relationship with his wife Pegi. It's not easy listening.
Best Song You Don't Know: "Standing in the Light of Love" clocks in at less than four-and-a-half compact minutes, signaling Toast as one of the most intriguing albums of Young's continually updating archives series. And it's better than Are You Passionate?
Various, Earl’s Closet: The Lost Archive of Earl McGrath, 1970-1980
What It Is: Earl McGrath was a record executive credited with discovering Daryl Hall & John Oates and running the Rolling Stones' record label in the later part of the '70s. These 22 previously unreleased recordings come from his private collection.
What's on It: A writer found boxes of tapes in an apartment closet after McGrath died in 2016. Hall and Oates and David Johansen are the most famous names on Earl's Closet, but almost all of these songs are worth hearing for their shag-carpet nostalgia.
Best Song You Know: A different version of former New York Dolls singer Johansen's "Funky but Chic," from his first solo album, is here. But most of these artists are obscure, so there are plenty of unheard gems in this "Lost Archive of Earl McGrath."
Best Song You Don't Know: Hall and Oates' song "Dry in the Sun" – one of two previously unreleased tracks by them on Earl's Closet – comes from their earliest days, before they became superstars. Its sprightly pop owes much to the duo's Philly roots.
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