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10 Best Reissues of the Year

David Fricke's picks for the year's best reissues include the Beach Boys' finally-completed mosiac-pop symphony, U2's rebirth as future-pop subversives and the Smashing Pumpkins' psychedelic debut.

American, indie, rock, band, Archers of Loaf, bassist, Matt Gentling, guitarist, Eric Johnson, drummer, Marc Price, vocalist, Eric Bachmann

American indie rock band Archers of Loaf (L - R) bassist Matt Gentling, guitarist Eric Johnson, drummer Marc Price, and lead vocalist/guitarist Eric Bachmann New York City in April of 1995.

Bob Berg/Getty


Archers of Loaf, ‘Icky Mettle’

The spiked-guitar chaos and pop-wise confrontation are so fluid and bracing, it’s still hard to believe that this 1993 release was the Archers’ debut album. Remember alt-rock this way, and learn from it.

Jon Dolan's Original Review: Archers of Loaf's 'Icky Mettle' Reissue

beau brummels

Warner Bros. Records


The Beau Brummels, ‘Bradley’s Barn’

This 1968 masterpiece – now two CDs with orphaned tracks and non-LP singles – was alternative roots rock way ahead of schedule. The delicate blend of earthy yearning and Sixties adventurism is still a land awaiting discovery.

Rolling Stone's Best of 2011

phil spector

Sony Legacy


Various Artists, ‘Phil Spector Presents the Philles Album Collection’

This is the Wall of Sound at its Top 40 height, 1962-64, and the closest the producer ever came to happy endings: opulent teenage melodramas built around the vocal elation of the Ronettes, Darlene Love and La La Brooks. A disc of instrumental B sides is pure chops – Spector's session cats, the so-called Wrecking Crew, at play.

Rolling Stone's Best of 2011

the bristol sessions

Bear Family


Various Artists, ‘The Bristol Sessions 1927-1928: The Big Bang of Country Music’

Country music, as an industry and nationally shared poetic voice, started in Bristol, Tennessee – the raw, exciting parade of balladeers, storytellers and hillbilly party bands who came from the hills and off the farms to play in Ralph Peer's makeshift studio. The 1927 recordings include the first ever by Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family – history enough for one week.

Rolling Stone's Best of 2011

some girls rolling stones

Atlantic Records


The Rolling Stones, ‘Some Girls: Deluxe Edition’

The 1978 original's gnarly decadence is doubled with outtakes, some with recent buffing. But that leaves no undue shine on the true-crime gallop "Claudine," or Keith Richards' pining in the bittersweet country downer "We Had It All."

Rob Sheffield's Original Review: The Rolling Stones' 'Some Girls: Deluxe Edition'
Rolling Stones Unearth Material for 'Some Girls' Reissue
Photos: Rare and Intimate Shots of the Rolling Stones

achtung baby

Island Records


U2, ‘Achtung Baby’ (20th Anniversary Edition)

U2’s 1991 transformation from earnest seekers in pilgrim black to gaudy future-pop subversives is one of rock’s great acts of rebirth. The blanket coverage in remixes, B sides and embryonic demos is uniquely instructive – a lust for change recounted step by step, even the wrong ones.

Andy Greene's Original Review: U2's 'Achtung Baby (20th Anniversary Edition)'
U2 Revisit 'Achtung Baby' and Question Their Future
U2 Go Back to the Nineties with Massive 'Achtung Baby' Reissue

beach boys smile

Capitol Records


The Beach Boys, ‘The Smile Sessions Box Set’

The greatest rock album never finished receives lavish closure: five CDs of deep studio detail from 1966 and 1967 – with sunbursts of vocal and instrumental eccentricity – as Brian Wilson builds his mosaic-pop symphony about America’s pioneer history. One disc is the best of it all – Smile as it might have been. The outtakes take you into Wilson’s imagination, before it shut down in disappointment.

David Fricke's Original Review: The Beach Boys' 'The Smile Sessions Box Set'
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