You know the drill: Rolling Stone‘s 100 greatest albums of all time, as assessed by us in terms of their many reissues, to bring you the best-sounding and most thoroughly expanded editions for your buck. The Band literally plays on as we kick off this installment!
45. The Band, The Band (Capitol, 1969)
After the great debut Music from Big Pink the year before, The Band drew on concepts of Americana and rural history for their follow-up. There was no sophomore slump here; guitarist Robbie Robertson’s songwriting was becoming even more top-notch (he wrote or co-wrote every song on the album), and the band was sounding as flawlessly arranged as ever, particularly definitive folk tracks like “Up on Cripple Creek” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.”
Capitol first released The Band on CD in 1987 (CDP 7 46493 2) and expanded it in 2000 with seven bonus tracks, including a non-LP B-side, “Get Up Jake,” and six alternate takes. (Andrew Sandoval and Dan Hersch mastered this release – Capitol 72435 25389 2 8.) In 2009, Audio Fidelity released a Gold CD mastered by Steve Hoffman (AFZ 032) which featured “Get Up Jake” as a bonus track.
44. Patti Smith, Horses (Arista, 1975)
The New York singer/poet’s incendiary debut was an American forerunner of punk rock, an eclectic mix of jazz and rock that took forms short (straight-ahead rock songs “Redondo Beach” and “Free Money”) and long (the suites “Gloria,” “Birdland” and “Land”). If all you know is Smith’s still gorgeous Bruce Springsteen cover “Because the Night,” this is the one to pick up.
Horses‘ release history on CD is nice and neat. The first release on the format was in 1988 (Arista ARCD-8362), followed by a remaster by Vic Anesini in 1996 (Arista 07822 18827-2) which featured one bonus track, a live cover of The Who’s “My Generation.” In 2005, a Legacy Edition was released (Arista/Legacy 82876 71198-2); officially titled Horses/Horses, it features the same contents of the ’96 reissue (albeit remastered by Greg Calbi) and a bonus disc featuring a live performance of the whole album (and “My Generation”) from London’s Royal Festival Hall in 2005, with Television’s Tom Verlaine and the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea serving as part of the backing band.
After the jump, a trip to the dark side, the debut of an iconic ’60s band and the punk rock statement of the millennium!
43. Pink Floyd, The Dark Side of the Moon (Harvest, 1973)
Classic rock touchstone, fascinating psychedelic soundtrack, master course in studio trickery, perennial chart mainstay, bizarre soundtrack to The Wizard of Oz – The Dark Side of the Moon is many things to many people, which explains pretty succinctly why it’s been reissued quite a few times. The first CD (Harvest/Toshiba EMI CP35-3017) bowed in Japan in 1983; a British pressing followed a year later and another year later in the U.S. (Harvest CDP 7 46001 2) Doug Sax and James Guthrie remastered the album in 1992, with their work appearing on CD a year later. (This issue has the same catalogue number; the giveaway is the 1993 copyright date and different printing on the disc itself.) A 20th anniversary package containing that same remaster in a cardboard box with 3D artwork and postcard inserts (EMI 0777 7 81479 2 3) was released that year in the U.K.
For audiophiles and collectors, there were two Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab pressings (UDCD 517): one in 1988 and one in 1993 (the difference is the use of Ultradisc technology on the original and Ultradisc II on the reissue). Toshiba EMI in Japan released a gold CD in 1989 (CP43-5771) and a mini-LP replica with inserts (TOCP-65740) in 2001. In 2003, Sax and Guthrie remastered the album again for a 30th anniversary hybrid SACD release (Capitol CDP 7243 5 82136 2 1); a new remaster by Guthrie and Joel Plante was the centerpiece of a six-disc “Immersion Box Set” in 2011 (EMI 50999 029431 2), featuring unreleased tracks, the original quadrophonic mix of the album and a lot of crazy swag.
42. The Doors, The Doors (Elektra, 1967)
The Doors’ first album pretty accurately sets the template for the band’s short but influential discography: entertaining psychedelic jams augmented by Morrison’s oblique poetry. The formula works best on tracks like “Light My Fire,” “Crystal Ship,” “Break On Through (to the Other Side)” and “The End,” four of the band’s best songs, hands down.
The Doors was first released on CD in Japan (Warner-Pioneer 32XD-405, 1987) and a year later in the U.S., with mastering by original producer and engineer Paul A. Rothchild and Bruce Botnick (Elektra 74007-2). Steve Hoffman mastered a 24K gold disc in 1992 (DCC Compact Classics GZS-1023), and Botnick, along with Bernie Grundman, remastered the band’s entire catalogue again in 1999. (This version – which has the same Elektra catalogue number as the original U.S. CD, also featured in The Complete Studio Recordings box set – Elektra 62434-2.) Botnick oversaw a new remaster and remix for the band’s 40th anniversary in 2007 (Elektra/Rhino R2 101184). This disc, which also featured three unreleased studio bonus tracks, was also put into a box set, Perception (Elektra/Rhino R2 77645), which featured The Doors and its subsequent albums in 5.1 surround sound as well. Yet to be released on CD – and a likely candidate for next year’s “Year of The Doors” festivities – is the original mono mix of the album.
41. The Sex Pistols, Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols (Virgin, 1977)
The ultimate supernova explosion of the punk genre, Bollocks rolled everything wrong with British politics and homogenized culture and turned it into a forty-minute, mostly-tuneful middle finger. From then on, punk rock would be near the mainstream enough in some shape or form, and the Pistols would incinerate under the weight of their own creations mere months later.
Multiple CD versions of Bollocks have been released: Virgin’s first CD edition in the U.K. came out in 1985 (CDV 2086), and a U.S. counterpart would follow three years later (Warner Bros. 3147-2). Remasters would follow in the U.K. in 1992 (Virgin CDVX 2086) and 1998 (Virgin CDVP 2086), the latter a 21st anniversary edition cut specifically labeled as cut from the original analogue master. A Japanese reissue (Toshiba EMI VJCP-68050) replicated the original poster and inserts that came with LP pressings, while an American reissue (Warner Bros. R2 512151, 2008) put the disc in a digipak case.
But the most worthwhile purchase for fans and collectors would be an expanded double-disc set from 1996 (Virgin 7243 8 41937 2 0), which features a bonus disc of tracks that appeared on the noted bootleg album Spunk.
Tomorrow: Joe takes you through another five classics, including hits by Love, The Beatles and one of the best singer-songwriter albums of the 1970s!