Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Top Reissues and Box Sets of 2011

There wasn't a 'Coals to Newcastle' like last year, but 2011 did have quite a few keepers. To keep things simple, I'm going to list my favorite at these three price points:

1. Reasonable
2. A sacrifice
3. Who needs to eat?

1. Reasonable
The Left Banke
'Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina'

Usually, the best thing about a reissue is the addition of B-sides, bonus tracks and other bells and whistles. This pick has none of that. Sometimes it's just enough when a little label takes the time to bring an old out-of-print album out of moth balls. Thanks to Sundazed for bringing back this perfect piece of baroque pop from 1967. For you slightly younger readers, think the Clientele. ($14.98)

The Left Banke - She May Call You Up Tonight (mp3)

2. A Sacrifice
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
'Live in Berlin'

The cost is awfully high for a single disc from the synthpop pioneers, but it has always been tough to find a good live collection of OMD songs that span their entire career... bootleg or otherwise. Kudos to the band for releasing this set on their own. The show was recorded in 2010 on the 'History of Modern Tour,' the first time the classic lineup of Andy McCluskey, Paul Humphreys, Martin Cooper and Malcolm Holmes had played together since 1986. Not only is the sound quality top notch, but the hard-cover book that houses the disc includes some nice art and written remembrances from the fellas. ($40.47)

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark - Messages (Live) (mp3)

3. Who Needs to Eat?
The Beach Boys
'The SMiLE Sessions' Box Set

I never planned to own this box set. Too decadent. I asked for the double-album version for my birthday from Mrs. Linear Tracking Lives! She knows of my affinity for Brian Wilson and went the extra mile for the five CD, two LP, two 7" single edition. The box also includes a 60-page hard-cover book and huge poster of the Frank Holmes cover art. Even the box itself is a sight to behold. In short, this is a monster. I got this in mid-November, and I still haven't heard and read everything. No, this is obviously not for everybody... unless you need 35 separate takes of "Heroes and Villains," for example, but it's a fascinating history lesson. If you can't shell out the big bucks, choose the vinyl version over CD. The sound is better. ($133.85)

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