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The Best Reissues of 2014

A frequently updated round-up of our favorite deluxe box-sets, lovingly curated compilations and recently unearthed treasures

July 2, 2014 11:30 AM ET
Elton John Led zeppelin Oasis Johnny cash
Elton John, Goodbye 'Yellow Brick Road: 40th Anniversary Box Set'; Led Zeppelin, 'Led Zeppelin III (Deluxe Edition)'; Oasis, 'Definitely Maybe'; Johnny Cash, 'Out Among the Stars'
Courtesy of Island Records; Atlantic Records; Big Brother; Columbia/Legacy

5 Stars:

Elton John, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road: 40th Anniversary Box Set
At times, Elton John's diverse but filler-free 1973 double album's vivid Technicolor tunes – from the mournful prog-rock of opener "Funeral for a Friend" to the sunny, symphonic pop finale "Harmony" – suggest what the Beatles might have created had they stuck together a few more years. This welcome five-CD-plus-DVD expansion adds several non-LP singles; a new, nine-cut tribute set featuring contemporary fans from Miguel to Fall Out Boy; a vintage documentary about the album's creation; and, best of all, an explosive London concert that demonstrates how hard John and his kickass band could rock between eloquent ballads like "Your Song. By Will Hermes

Read our full review.

Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin III (Deluxe Edition)
It's easy to forget at this distance that Led Zeppelin's first three albums, the foundation of their titanic legacy, were the most divisive hit records of their day. III shook fans and enemies alike with its dedicated swerve into acoustic textures and restraint. The music is now beyond reproach. III was a masterful union of ballads and bruising, and a giant step in the songwriting ascent toward, later, "No Quarter" and "Kashmir." A bonus disc adds nine tracks that help expose that maturation. "Jennings Farm Blues," an electric run at the folk gallop "Bron-Y-Aur Stomp," shows Zeppelin exploring options, and the medley "Keys to the Highway/Trouble in Mind," by Page and Plant, feels like a deep-blues breath before the next rush forward. By David Fricke

Read our full review.

4.5 Stars:

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, CSNY 1974
Forty summers ago, North America's greatest dysfunctional supergroup patched things up for a while, filled stadiums and left behind tales of backstage excess and shaky vocal harmonies. The first-ever set of recordings from those shows is fittingly over-the-top – three discs and one DVD with footage of eight songs. The two electric-set discs have a crackling, wired-on-something energy: Check how Stephen Stills and Neil Young trade unhinged solos on Young's "Revolution Blues." The often exquisite acoustic disc finds all four lending harmonies to solo songs like Stills' "Change Partners" and reveling in a compatibility that often escaped them offstage. By David Browne

John Coltrane, Offering: Live at Temple University Resonance
This official, cleaned-up release of Trane's frequently bootlegged November 11, 1966 show is 90 minutes that pushes free-jazz expression to its furthest: There are points where the sax swami drops his instrument and simply begins hollering, mirroring his horn phrases, pounding on his chest to modulate the tones. The band includes Pharaoh Sanders, playing 2nd tenor and piccolo with butane-torch intensity; wife Alice Coltrane on piano; bassist Sonny Johnson; Jimmy Garrison on bass; Trane's latter-day musical soulmate Rashied Ali on drums; and a handful of guests, some invited, some not. By Will Hermes

Miles Davis, Miles at the Fillmore - Miles Davis 1970: The Bootleg Series Vol. 3
In June 1970, with the Joshua Light Show melting colors behind them, Miles Davis's septet played four sets in as many nights at New York's Fillmore East. Originally edited down by producer Teo Macero to 20-minute medleys (released as the Miles Davis at Fillmore double album in August), these thrilling spelunking sessions into the heart of electric Miles are heard here in their crisp eight-track entirety. A masterful editor tasked with tough choices, Macero naturally emphasized the trumpeter's titanium-terse phrases and leaping epiphanies at the expense of Steve Grossman's Coltrane-inspired saxophones or the gnarled electronic interplay of keyboardists Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett. Listening intently to one another, the septet bridge the gap between Davis's earlier acoustic quintet and the big electric group that recorded his 1970 masterpiece Bitches Brew. By Richard Gehr

Oasis, Definitely Maybe
Twenty years on, Oasis' debut remains one of the most gloriously loutish odes to cigarettes, alcohol and dumb guitar solos that the British Isles have ever coughed up. This deluxe three-disc reissue includes unreleased demos and live treasures, along with essential 1994 singles and B sides like "Fade Away" and "Listen Up," where Oasis first hinted at the dreamy depths behind all the lager-swilling bravado. By Rob Sheffield

Read our full review.

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Song Stories

“Hungry Like the Wolf”

Duran Duran | 1982

This indulgent New Romantic group generated their first U.S. hit with the help of what was at the time new technology. "Simon [Le Bon] and I, I think, had been out the night before and had this terrible hangover," said keyboardist Nick Rhodes. "For some reason we were feeling guilty about it and decided to go and do some work." Rhodes started playing with his Jupiter-8 synth, and then "Simon had an idea for a lyric, and by lunchtime when everyone else turned up, we pretty much had the song." The Simmons drumbeat was equally important to the sound of "Hungry Like the Wolf," as Duran Duran drummer Roger Taylor stated it "kind of defined the drum sound for the Eighties."

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