Reissue Roundup: Winter Sets From Black Sabbath, Bob Dylan and More
The weeks following the big holiday rush are usually the slowest of the year. That's pretty much been the case over the past couple months, as you'll see in the below Reissue Roundup of recent winter sets.
There's a mix of box sets, deluxe reissues, archival recordings and vinyl remasters included. And artists include everyone from Bob Dylan (not a new entry in his popular "Bootleg Series" but a copyright-extension set), the Black Crowes and Creedence Clearwater Revival to Neil Young (an archive-sourced live set with Crazy Horse) and Dylan's onetime backing group the Band.
Even though the number of reissues and archival releases this winter expectedly dropped – spring and summer promise more sets – there's still plenty to dive into here. Check it out below.
The Band, Stage Fright (50th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition)
What It Is: The Band's third album, from 1970, wasn't met with the unanimous praise of its predecessors, but some great songs nonetheless stood out among the general fatigue. This remixed, remastered and expanded version rounds up the era.
What's on It: Two CDs collect alternate versions, hotel-room recordings and a 1971 concert from the Royal Albert Hall. The "Super Deluxe Edition" also includes hi-res and surround mixes plus a replica 7" single of "Time to Kill."
Best Song You Know: "The Shape I'm In" is the album's highlight, but the title track – a summation of the whirlwind years leading up to the LP – is almost as good. The song order is revised here to reflect the original LP's, strengthening the overall flow.
Best Song You Don't Know: Like the recent reissues of Music From Big Pink and The Band, this new Stage Fright boasts a cleaner and more revealing sound. The new "2020 Mix" of "The Shape I'm In" is particularly lively.
The Black Crowes, Shake Your Money Maker 30th Anniversary
What It Is: The band's 1990 debut was a much-needed blast of classic rock 'n' roll at the dawn of the decade. It still sounds visionary in its nostalgia all these years later. This box celebrates the LP with a newly remastered version and session leftovers.
What's on It: There's a concert from the band's hometown of Atlanta recorded in December 1990, but that's pretty routine. Better are the previously unreleased songs and B-sides, like early demos and acoustic takes on some favorites.
Best Song You Know: The Black Crowes' cover of Otis Redding's "Hard to Handle" hit No. 1 on the rock chart (their first of many to reach that spot) and almost cracked the Top 40. And for good reason: It's even better than the soul giant's original.
Best Song You Don't Know: "Charming Mess," an outtake from the Shake Your Money Maker sessions, was supposed to be the band's first single, but it was eventually pulled from the album altogether. It definitely belongs there.
Black Sabbath, Vol. 4 Super Deluxe Edition
What It Is: After the foundation-shifting magnitude of their first three LPs, Black Sabbath retreated to the studio, did a lot of coke and recorded their fourth album. In some ways it's heavier and harder than anything that came before it.
What's on It: In addition to a new remaster that beefs up the sound, this set adds discs of outtakes, alternate versions, a bunch of different takes and live tracks from the era. It's a near-complete document of the band's 1972 classic record.
Best Song You Know: The Side One closer, "Supernaut," includes one of guitarist Tony Iommi's all-time greatest riffs. The entire band, really, zeroes in on this LP-anchoring moment, locking into a zone for almost five lean minutes.
Best Song You Don't Know: While the tapes for various sessions yield some great fly-on-the-wall moments, including conversations and songs that end before they even get started, the full outtakes of "Supernaut" and "Changes" offer new sides to old faves.
Black Sabbath, Heaven and Hell: Deluxe Edition and Mob Rules: Deluxe Edition
What It Is: Even more deluxe editions of Black Sabbath albums, but this time from the Ronnie James Dio era instead of the original Ozzy Osbourne one. His two albums with the band – 1980's Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules from the next year – are remastered.
What's on It: Each album gets a bonus disc of previously unreleased or rare material, including B-sides, single edits and live versions, putting Sabbath's Dio era in perspective. The live tracks are highlights.
Best Song You Know: The title track from Heaven and Hell (as well as album opener "Neon Knights") heralded a revitalized Black Sabbath and remains the centerpiece of the band's time with Dio.
Best Song You Don't Know: Live versions of "Heaven and Hell" and "The Mob Rules" – the former was originally a B-side; the latter comes from a 1982 concert in Portland, Ore. – inject new life into a band that was on the verge of collapse at the end of the '70s.
Creedence Clearwater Revival, Pendulum and Mardi Gras
What It Is: The last two CCR albums get 50th-anniversary half-speed-mastered reissues on vinyl, joining the previous five LPs in their catalog. The entire packaging replicates the albums' original respective 1970 and 1972 pressings.
What's on It: After the band's 1969 output – three classic albums, including Green River and Willy and the Poor Boys – as well as mid-1970's Cosmo's Factory, Pendulum and Mardi Gras are often dismissed and overlooked. They shouldn't entirely be.
Best Song You Know: "Have You Ever Seen the Rain," from Pendulum, is one of John Fogerty's all-time greatest songs. "Hey Tonight" and "Sweet Hitch-Hiker" are also on these two albums.
Best Song You Don't Know: These are straight reissues, so there's nothing new here. But seeing how these LPs aren't as well known as their predecessors, plenty of gems are buried, including the wistful "Someday Never Comes" from Mardi Gras.
Bob Dylan, The 50th Anniversary Collection 1970
What It Is: This three-disc set originally came out last year in a limited edition to extend copyrights on these unreleased recordings. This wider release joins the Dylan archives as a chronicle of an often-troubling era for the legendary singer and songwriter.
What's on It: Self Portrait and New Morning, two easily dismissed Dylan albums from 1970, were being made around this time. The highlight of these outtakes is a nine-song session with George Harrison that yielded Everly Brothers and Carl Perkins covers.
Best Song You Know: "If Not for You" and "Went to See the Gypsy" are among Dylan's best songs from the era, and they're included here in various, previously unheard takes that take you inside his process.
Best Song You Don't Know: These previously unreleased takes have been in the vaults for decades, so technically everything is new. But it's the Harrison session from May 1, 1970, that highlights The 50th Anniversary Collection 1970.
Japan, Quiet Life: Deluxe Edition
What It Is: The British new wave band's third album, originally released in 1979, was its first to make any real impression. Two years later, Japan would create their masterpiece, Tin Drum. Quiet Life is the run-up to that album.
What's on It: This three-disc set includes B-sides, 7" and 12" remixes from back in the day, a live EP (recorded in Japan) from 1980 and the full concert recorded at Tokyo's famous Budokan that sourced the rare EP.
Best Song You Know: The title track, and the album's opening cut, remains one of their best songs. The new remaster highlights the glistening synths and David Sylvian's on-the-cusp-of-the-'80s vocals.
Best Song You Don't Know: A "Japanese 7" Mix" of "Quiet Life" is one of four versions of the song found on the "Deluxe Edition" – there's also an "Original German 7" Mix" – but this obscure 1980 version is a treat for fans.
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Way Down in the Rust Bucket
What It Is: Two months after Neil Young & Crazy Horse released their excellent Ragged Glory album in September 1990, they played a bar in Santa Cruz, Calif. For three hours and three sets, they tore through a career-spanning show.
What's on It: Ragged Glory songs like "Over and Over" and "Love and Only Love" are here, but so are "Cinnamon Girl," "Like a Hurricane" and "Cortez the Killer." The set is filled with raw, sprawling versions of old and new cuts, some making their live debut.
Best Song You Know: This is a previously unreleased record from Young's archives, so you haven't heard any of these particular versions before. But the set includes some of his greatest songs played by his greatest backing band during one of their best eras.
Best Song You Don't Know: "Country Home" opened the original Ragged Glory album, and it was the first song performed at the Catalyst on Nov. 13, 1990. There's no slow build for Young and the band: They start strong and don't let up at all.