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10 Best Reissues of 2013

David Fricke’s look back at the year in re-releases

Dylan reclaimed his weirdest record, Rock of Ages rocked even harder and Lou Reed's favorite Dixie New Wavers got their due.

by David Fricke

Sophisticated Boom Boom! The Shadow Morton Story

Courtesy of Ace Records

9

Various Artists, ‘Sophisticated Boom Boom! The Shadow Morton Story’

In the Sixties and Seventies, George "Shadow" Morton was a Phil Spector with sharp, wide aim, producing girl-group, folk and heavy-rock history for the Shangri-Las, Janis Ian, Vanilla Fudge and the New York Dolls. This set hits every high point.

The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records, Vol. 1

Courtesy of Third Man Records

8

Various Artists, ‘The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records, Vol. 1 (1917 -1927)’

Hear the second discovery of America as the dawn of recording charts the birth of modern blues and jazz, and immortalizes the songs and struggle of the underclass. Amid the extravagant craftsmanship here, there is true grit, sorrow and cheer.

Public Image Ltd. First Issue

Courtesy of Light in the Attic Records

7

Public Image Ltd., ‘First Issue’

PiL's 1978 debut LP was John Lydon's scabrous repudiation of punk's already calcifying remains. "Theme" and "Annalisa" are naked, barely riffing fury, scoured by Keith Levene's rusty-treble guitar, Lydon howling at the rear as if drowning in the tumult and echo.

Grateful Dead May 1977

Courtesy of Rhino Records

6

Grateful Dead, ‘May 1977’

Another year, another deep trip through a season of prime Dead. The five complete gigs in this exquisitely packaged set feature a hot, eager band, fresh from hiatus, debuting a new LP (Terrapin Station) and jamming with brio during a legendary month in live-Dead lore.

The Sun Rock Box 1954-1959

Courtesy of Bear Family Records

5

Various Artists, ‘The Sun Rock Box 1954-1959’

The fountain of youth and twang that ran through Sam Phillips' Memphis studio set the stage and standard for all that followed. Stars (Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison) and obscure wild men (Jack Earls) abound on eight CDs. Everything rocks

Nirvana In Utero: 20th Anniversary Edition

Courtesy of Geffen Records

4

Nirvana, ‘In Utero: 20th Anniversary Edition’

Nirvana's studio finale was leader Kurt Cobain's super-punk revenge on his celebrity. It wasn't enough; he was dead a few months later. But the demos and late-'93 concert here catch him in fighting trim, before he could fight no more.

The Band

Courtesy of Capitol/UMe

3

The Band, ‘Live at the Academy of Music 1971’

Bob Dylan's old combo was at its saloon-R&B frontier-parable apex for the New York shows first released as Rock of Ages. This five-disc set has all of New Year's Eve, a version of every song played during the run and a visit by Dylan: a momentous event recalled in greater glory.

Duane Allman Skydog

Courtesy of Rounder Records

2

Duane Allman, ‘Skydog’

Allman cut everything in this seven-CD anthology – rare demos; sessions for Wilson Pickett and Boz Scaggs, among others; vintage Allman Brothers work – from 1965 until his death in 1971. Thrilling and definitive, Skydog is a short life lived in full, each note charged with blues and ascension.

Bob Dylan Another Self Portrait

Courtesy of Columbia Records

1

Bob Dylan, ‘Another Self Portrait’

In March 1970, Bob Dylan recorded some of the most spare, exquisite and personal music of his career – mostly old folk tunes and country-comfort covers – with David Bromberg and Al Kooper. Dylan didn't release the tapes in that form. He sent them to Nashville, where, with overdubs, they became the foundation for the ornate, divisive Self Portrait. The original sessions comprise the heart of this vital, revealing collection, part of Dylan's Bootleg Series. Far from being lost and uncertain at the end of the Sixties, Dylan was at his most exploratory, testing directions on the way to his next, essential LPs, including New Morning and Blood on the Tracks. That extraordinary decade starts here.

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