They say those who ignore history are bound to repeat it. In music, however, those who pay attention to history seem just as likely to repeat it. So here's a bunch of new versions of things that are worth ripping off. The percentage of previously unreleased material (as well as packaging, liner notes, etc) certainly factored into what made this list as much as the quality of the original work.
1. Dolly Mixture – Everything and More [Dolly Mixture] | BUY
For the first time in on place this three-disc collection brings together UK cult band's singles, demos, live cuts and, well, more…all in one place. Most of this has never been on CD before. Add to this great liner notes from Saint Etienne's Bob Stanley, you've got an indie pop fan's dream come true.
MP3: Dolly Mixture – Everything and More
2. Orange Juice – Coals to Newcastle [Domino] | BUY
Most of what makes up this 99.9% complete collected works of Glasgow greats Orange Juice has been available before — Polydor UK released some nice reissues in 1997 that went out of print almost immediately. But this marks the first time EVER that most of this has ever been available in America. And for those that did get the '90s reissues, there's even more here — Peel Sessions, live cuts, 12" mixes, alternate takes — that it justifies repurchasing. No vinyl and no 7" version of "Rip it Up" help keep it out of the top spot.
MP3: Orange Juice – What Presence?! (12" version)
3. The Fall – The Wonderful and Frightening World of the Fall: Omnibus Edition [Beggars Banquet] | BUY
My personal favorite Fall album gets the four-disc Omibus Edition treatment. The 1984 record was the first fully made with Mark E. Smith's then-wife Brix, who brought pop smarts to the Mancunian band's somewhat difficult sound, and their first produced by the great John Leckie. The Omnibus Edition restores the album's original running order, putting singles from the same time — "Oh Brother!," "C.R.E.E.P." and "No Bulbs" — on the second disc with their b-sides and rough mixes of album tracks. The third collects radio sessions, and the fourth is a live recording from their performance at the 1984 Pandora's Music Box Festival in Norway (set time 3:15AM) that shows what a powerhouse live band the Fall were at the time.
MP3: The Fall – Lay of the Land (Live at Pandor's Music Box Festival)
4. The T.A.M.I. Show [Shout Factory!] | BUY
The first ever home video release of this legendary 1964 concert film, given a first-class DVD courtesy the good folks at Shout Factory. The talent here is staggering — The Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, Marvin Gaye, Smoke Robinson & the Miracles, Chuck Berry, The Supremes — and the performances even better. But nothing tops the footage of James Brown that is worth buying this for alone and shows that Eddie Murphy's famous imitation wasn't really that far off from the real thing. Incredible.
VIDEO: James Brown & the Famous Flames on the T.A.M.I. Show
5. The Method Actors – This is Still It [Acute] | BUY
Big thanks to Acute for putting the spotlight on obscure '80s Athens, Georgia duo who pounded out nervy post punk, a bit like Pylon's weird younger brothers.This best-of will have you scouring auction sites and used bins for more.
MP3: The Method Actors – Do the Method
MP3: The Method Actors – Bleeding
6. Jim Sullivan – U.F.O. [Light in the Attic] BUY
Whenever you think you've heard every lost classic, LIght in the Attic comes along to prove you wrong. In this case, it's Jim Sullivan, whose 1969 debut only known by writers at MOJO and employees at Aquarius. Now we get it too: expansive folk/country that should excite anyone who's ever loved "Wichita Lineman."
7. Jane Birkin at Serge Gainsbourg – Je T’aime… Moi, Non Plus [Light in the Attic] | BUY
This one's a little better known, the first pairing of Parisian power-couple Serge Gainsbourg and muse Jane Birkin. The infamous title track is only the beginning, so many great songs — so many killer grooves — on this album, from the foreplay to the afterglow. The vinyl version comes with a bonus 7" and a comic book!
MP3: Jane Birkin et Serge Gainsbourg – Jane B
8. Alan Hawkshaw – Mo’Hawk: The Essential Vibes & Grooves 1967 – 1975 [RPM] | BUY
In a similar if much more superficial vein is this compilation of early recordings of Alan Hawkshaw, a British composer and session man whose work can be heard all over British TV in the late '60s and early '70s, be it theme songs or jingles. All of it was groovy. (If you bought those Sound Gallery compilations from the mid-'90s you've heard his work.) I don't know that you'd want to listen to this as a whole, but it's always fun to throw Hawkshaw's tracks on a mix (or while DJing) and he seems an untapped resource for sampling.
MP3: Alan Hawkshaw – Dr. Jeckyl and Hyde Park
9. Saint Etienne - Good Humor [UMC] | BUY
Consummate '90s Londoners decamp to Sweden to work with Cardigans producer Tore Johansson and try something new: a concept album about America made with live musicians. It turned out to be a genius move, and the 1997 album is arguably the band's best. This deluxe edition gives us a second disc that expands the Fairfax High bonus disc that came with it's American release on Sub Pop.
MP3: Saint Etienne – Swim Swan Swim
10. The Cure – Disintigration [Elektra] | BUY
One of the mopiest records ever to become a (deserved) worldwide hit, the Cure's 1989 uberwork gets the three-disc deluxe treatment. In addition to a slightly-punched up remastering (not too egregious) we get a discs worth of demos, as well as the entire Etreat live album which originally only came out in France.
MP3: The Cure – Plainsong (demo)
11. Black Tambourine – S/T [Slumberland] | BUY
What with every band in Brooklyn (and elsewhere) naming this band as an influence, as well as Slumberland's resurgence as a label, it only makes sense that we'd get a deluxe version of Black Tambourine's entire output, including six new tracks, three of which were recorded specifically for this release. I'm not sure it really betters Slumberland's previous BT compilation (which was always available), but the packaging and liner notes are real nice.