We’re nearing the Top 20 of our 100 Greatest Reissues list, taking Rolling Stone‘s list of the greatest albums of all time and investigating their many pressings and expansions as the catalogue industry has grown. Today, journey to the past with a quintet of California rock heroes, one of rock-and-roll’s early pioneers and the once-and-always Mr. Dynamite! Plus: a Beatle and a star of the Motown stable make intensely personal statements on their own!
25. Fleetwood Mac, Rumours (Warner Bros., 1977)
If any one record could be said to encapsulate an entire era, it might be Fleetwood Mac’s towering 1977 Rumours. This is the album that turned a solid blues-rock band into the biggest pop giant of the decade, immortalizing the group’s internal strife and romantic intrigues in one made-for-radio package. Rumours established Lindsey Buckingham as a writing and production force, although Rumours was very much a group effort for Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood, as well. Its four singles (Nicks’ “Dreams,” Christine McVie’s “Don’t Stop” and “You Make Loving Fun,” Buckingham’s “Go Your Own Way”) are as immortal today as the album itself, which sold over 40 million copies. Taking in sex, drugs, and rock and roll with the idyllic California sun as the backdrop, Rumours remains one of the most successful LPs of all time.
Rumours was, of course, issued early in the CD age, arriving in 1984 (Warner Bros. 3010-2). The label’s 2001 DVD-Audio issue “(9 48083-9) featured the album in advanced resolution surround sound as well as stereo, and added one track to the original 11-song line-up. “Silver Springs,” a B-side of “Go Your Own Way,” replaced “Songbird” as the album’s sixth track, and “Songbird” was relegated to the 12th slot. In 2004, Warner Bros. and Rhino reissued Rumours as a remastered 2-CD set (R2 73882). Disc 1 was dedicated to the album, with “Silver Springs” again added, this time in the slot between the reinstated “Songbird” (Track 6) and “The Chain” (Track 8). Disc 2 premiered 11 roughs and outtakes, five demos and two jam sessions, making the most comprehensive edition yet of the album. After a 2008 SHM-CD (Super High Material CD) edition from Warner Japan (WPCR-13249), that country’s label issued Rumours as an SHM-SACD in 2011 (WPCR-14171), making the long out-of-print surround mix available once again.
24. James Brown, Live at the Apollo (King, 1963)
Nobody could accuse James Brown of not having faith in himself. When Brown approached King Records’ Syd Nathan about recording his upcoming October 1962 stand at the Apollo, Nathan balked. Brown went ahead anyway, funding the record out of his own pocket. Mr. Dynamite intuitively knew that his live performances transcended anything he was capable of turning out in the studio, thanks to the unbreakable, palpable rapport between performers and audience. The vocal interplay is part and parcel of the magic of Live at the Apollo, as exciting a document of musical pandemonium as you’ll ever hear. And Brown’s faith paid off; his performance with the Famous Flames was inducted into the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry in 2004.
Live at the Apollo didn’t arrive on CD until 1990 (Polydor 843-479-2), and three years later it arrived as a Mobile Fidelity gold disc (UDCD 583, 1993). In 2004, Universal revisited the album as B0001715-02, expanding it with four additional single alternates (“Think,” a shortened medley of “I Found Someone/Why Do You Do Me/I Want You So Bad,” “Lost Someone” and “I’ll Go Crazy”) and a deluxe 20-page booklet with new essays and photos. For Brown and the Flames at their frenetic, electrifying best, this is the place to start.
Hit the jump for three shots of raw rock and soul!
23. Stevie Wonder, Innervisions (Motown, 1973)
It’s no, well, wonder that Stevie has such a major presence on this list. Following Talking Book (1972) and prior to Fulfillingness’ First Finale (1974), the amazingly prolific singer/songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist turned out this entry in his string of masterworks. It’s marked by the most pronounced appearance yet of Wonder’s social conscience, a product of the hard-won freedom he gained from Berry Gordy’s Motown empire. He frankly addressed urban struggles such as drug abuse and exploitation on songs like “Too High” and “Living for the City,” and did so mainly by himself; armed with his ARP synthesizer, Wonder played virtually every instrument on a full two-thirds of the album, in addition to writing, arranging and co-producing the entire LP.
Innervisions appeared on CD in 1986 (Motown R32M-1013) and again in 1990 (Motown 3746303262), both in standard editions. A Mobile Fidelity gold CD followed in 1992 (UDCD 554) and the album was finally remastered for wide release in 2000 (Motown 012 157 355-2) in both standard and digipak versions. A mini-sleeve replica appeared in Japan in 2006 (Universal UICY-9252) and an SHM-CD was issued there in 2009 (UICY-93934) Innervisions made its high-resolution debut in 2011 as a stereo-only SHM-SACD (UIGY-9068).
22. John Lennon, Plastic Ono Band (Apple, 1970)
The July 1969 single release of John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance” marked the first time that the name of the Plastic Ono Band appeared on a record label. Lennon and Yoko Ono resolved to use the flexible band handle for whichever group happened to be playing with them; the onstage document Live Peace in Toronto 1969 was credited to the band, as was the harrowing single “Cold Turkey.” “Instant Karma!” modified the name slightly to “John Lennon and Yoko Ono with the Plastic Ono Band,” and then the Lennons decided to each release an album titled, simply, after the malleable band name.
When the twin Plastic Ono albums arrived on December 11, 1970, with complementary cover photos and shared musicians including Lennon, Ono, Ringo Starr and Klaus Voormann, it was clear that The Beatles was, finally, over. Lennon’s first proper solo album of music (though still more accessible than his wife’s) made explciit his split from Paul, George and Ringo. His songwriting was heavily influenced by the primal scream therapy of Dr. Arthur Janov, and filled with painful confessions, including the shocking proclamation of the song “God”: “I don’t believe in Beatles.” Listeners didn’t turn their back on Lennon, however, and the album reached No. 8 on the U.K. album chart and No. 6 in the U.S., where it spent eighteen weeks in the Top 10. The album’s songs were uniformly bracing, but “Working Class Hero” became somewhat of an anthem, and the haunting “Mother” is today a touchstone of Lennon’s confessional songwriting.
The original Capitol/Parlophone CD of Plastic Ono Band (CDP 7 46770-2, 1988) retained the original track listing of the LP. In 2000, Capitol issued a remixed version of the album (CDP 7 28740-2), supervised by Yoko Ono, which added the bonus tracks “Power to the People” and “Do the Oz.” This remix was utilized by Mobile Fidelity for its Gold CD edition (Mobile Fidelity UDCD 760, 2000). A mini-LP replica was created for the Japanese market in 2007 (TOCP-70391) but the next major iteration of the Plastic Ono Band album came in 2010 with the release of the original mix, once again, in an Abbey Road Studios-remastered edition available both individually (Capitol 50999906505-2) and as part of the John Lennon Signature Box (Capitol 50999906509-2).
21. Chuck Berry, The Great Twenty-Eight (Chess, 1982)
Among The Great Twenty-Eight: “Maybellene,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Rock and Roll Music,” “Sweet Little Sixteen,” “Johnny B. Goode,” “No Particular Place to Go.” If you ever have to explain rock and roll to an alien, you might as well hand the little green man a copy of The Great Twenty-Eight and go to town. The otherworldly creature would get it right away.
Ironically, The Great Twenty-Eight began life as a two-LP compilation from Sugar Hill Records in the brief period when that disco giant held rights to the storied Chess catalogue. Sugar Hill lost Chess to MCA Records (now part of the Universal Music Group) and MCA gained this compilation, still perfectly pitched between“casual-fans-only” greatest hits sets, and more comprehensive multiple-disc affairs. No track is more recent than 1965, with the earliest dating from 1955, so you’re spared “My Ding-a-Ling” (ironically, Berry’s only No. 1 hit) but get all of the music on which the legend was built.
In 1984, The Great Twenty-Eight was issued on CD (Chess/MCA CHD-92500) but it’s since been deleted from the catalogue and replaced with countless compilations, most with superior sound quality. Completists will wish to seek out Hip-o Select’s three-volume box set series collecting Berry’s Chess recordings from the 1950s through 1974. For those looking for an analogue to The Great Twenty-Eight, the answer might be 2006’s The Definitive Collection (Geffen/Chess 0004417, 2006) with 30 tracks basically following the running order of the earlier set and eliminating only “Bye Bye Johnny” from those 28 classics. (The single edit of “My Ding-a-Ling” does appear here!) Unless you’re willing to seek out the earlier set in used condition, The Definitive Collection is the best way to go for a fix of Berry’s wild best.
Tomorrow, in Part 17: Mike enters the Top 20 with some of the most iconic albums of all time! I’d tell you that this upcoming batch is quite a thriller, but oh…nevermind.