Home Music Music Lists

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.

phil spector

Sony Legacy

6

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.

Related
Rolling Stone's Best of 2011

the bristol sessions

Bear Family

4

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.

Related
Rolling Stone's Best of 2011

some girls rolling stones

Atlantic Records

3

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."

Related
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

2

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.

Related
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

1

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.

Related
David Fricke's Original Review: The Beach Boys' 'The Smile Sessions Box Set'
• The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time: The Beach Boys