We continue our look at the many reissues of the 100 greatest albums of all time, as selected by Rolling Stone in 2003! We’ll explore the various versions of these classic albums on disc, letting you know which audio treasures can be found on which releases. It’s a marvelous night for a “Moondance” before we go “Back to Mono,” roll with the Stones and then take in latter-day classics from the 1980s and 1990s!
65. Moondance, Van Morrison (Warner Bros., 1970)
Van Morrison’s 1968 Warner Bros. debut, Astral Weeks, was a creation like no other, blending rock, jazz, folk and classical styles into a nearly indescribable tour de force. With only eight tracks, some of them quite lengthy, Astral Weeks indicated that a major new player had arrived on the music scene. He didn’t disappoint with 1970’s Moondance, although the album was every bit as light as Astral Weeks was bleak, and every bit as commercial as Astral Weeks was esoteric.
The soulful, jazzy title track has become a modern standard, although it wasn’t released as a single until 1977 (!) when it barely eked into the Hot 100. “Come Running,” the original selection for a single, did manage to crack the Top 40 while the album itself managed a respectable No. 39 chart placement. “Crazy Love” has also received its share of cover versions over the years (recently by neo-pop crooner Michael Buble) while “Into the Mystic” could be the Irish rocker’s ultimate statement. Morrison’s ode to the power of radio, “Caravan,” is no less powerful, while album opener “And It Stoned Me” is a fan favorite to this day.
Morrison and Warner Bros. Records have reportedly been unable to come to terms over the years for a reissue of Moondance. A bare-bones CD (Warner Bros. 3103) remains in print to this day. A 2008 Japanese edition (Warner Japan WPCR-75420) boasted of first-ever remastering for the title, though it wasn’t made available elsewhere. Moondance has, of course, been reissued on vinyl, and fans of the iconoclastic artist still hold out hope that an expanded, remastered Moondance will one day come to light.
64. Various Artists, Phil Spector: Back to Mono 1958-1969 (ABKCO, 1991)
I wrote of Legacy’s 2011 Phil Spector: The Philles Album Collection:
Think of The Ronettes’ wail, every bit as iconic a cry as a-whop-bop-a-loo-a-whop-bam-boom. Doesn’t rock and roll have a way of elevating onomatopoeia to poetry? And no label made sweeter poetry in the first half of the 1960s than Philles Records. The voices of Ronnie Spector, Darlene Love, La La Brooks, Barbara Alston and the rest spoke directly to America’s teenagers. These women, alternately vulnerable and defiant, were little more than girls when they began putting their voices to the “little symphonies” being crafted by producer Phil Spector and his house arrangers, most notably Jack Nitzsche. Tom Wolfe once famously deemed Spector “America’s first teen-age tycoon.” Why? Spector recognized the paradigm shift in the late 1950s, when teenagers began accruing disposable income and exercising newfound spending power. He tapped into uncharted territory. Cole Porter and Irving Berlin weren’t writing songs about teenagers. Carole King, Gerry Goffin, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil were. Like Spector, they were barely out of their teen years themselves. The songs they created at Philles remain both of a distinct time, and timeless.
Those timeless recordings were first compiled for the CD era by Allen Klein’s ABKCO Records for the 1991 box set Back to Mono (7118-2). The set brought together Spector’s earliest productions for The Teddy Bears, The Paris Sisters and Gene Pitney as well as his Philles heyday of The Ronettes, The Crystals and the Righteous Brothers, and concluded with his post-Philles productions for Ike and Tina Turner and Sonny Charles and the Checkmates, Ltd. A number of rare tracks were released for the first time on Back to Mono, and the original A Christmas Gift to You from Phil Spector was included in its entirety. Since acquiring the Spector catalogue, Legacy has released one impressive albums box set as well as five compilation discs, with hopefully more to come, such as a definitive singles collection. But the original, now out-of-print Back to Mono remains one of the most impressive box sets of all time, and a reminder of a time when thunderous “little symphonies for the kiddies” ruled the AM airwaves.
You might want to hit the jump now, but be forewarned: your fingers might get Sticky!
63. The Rolling Stones, Sticky Fingers (Rolling Stones Records, 1971)
The Rolling Stones expressed their creative freedom from the clutches of manager Allen Klein with the 1971 release of Sticky Fingers, their ninth British studio album and first of the new decade. Sticky Fingers marked a number of firsts, as it was Mick Taylor’s debut with the band, the first album to feature no contributions from Brian Jones, and the premiere release on Rolling Stones Records.
The album is a, well, Stone-cold classic, with such now-iconic songs as “Brown Sugar,” “Wild Horses,” “Bitch,” “Sister Morphine” and “Moonlight Mile” among its ten tracks. It welcomed a number of guest musicians to the studio, including Bobby Keys, Ian Stewart, Nicky Hopkins, Billy Preston, Ry Cooder, Jack Nitzsche, Pete Townshend and Ronnie Lane. Sticky Fingers handily topped both the U.S. and U.K. album charts, and “Brown Sugar” topped the Billboard Hot 100.
Sticky Fingers saw its initial CD release in the U.S. under the auspices of Rolling Stones Records’ then-distributor, CBS (CK 40488, 1986). When the Rolling Stones Records catalogue changed hands, a remastered edition was released on Virgin Records in 1994 (7243-8-39525-2-6). Various vinyl-replica editions have followed, some including an operable zipper on the suggestive album cover! Sticky Fingers was remastered again in 2009 when Universal Music acquired the Stones’ catalogue (B0012799-02) and most recently for the SHM-SACD format in Japan (Universal Japan UICY-94571, 2010). Based on the success of super-deluxe remastered editions of Exile on Main St. (1972) and Some Girls (1978), it’s not inconceivable that a deluxe Sticky Fingers might be in the cards!
62. U2, Achtung Baby (Island, 1991)
The seventh studio album from U2, Achtung Baby teamed the Irish band with producers Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno, and remains one of the group’s most beloved and successful albums. It debuted atop the U.S. Billboard album chart, and spawned five singles, including the massively successful “One” and “Mysterious Ways.” In the Los Angeles Times, critic Robert Hilburn asserted that the album was the band’s “descent into darkness,” but the heavier sound and somber themes didn’t keep the album from catching on with worldwide audiences. It also netted the band a Grammy Award.
As Achtung Baby debuted in the CD era, the original 1991 Island Records CD remained the standard edition for nearly twenty years (314-510 347-2). In 2011, however, the band more than made up for the lack of reissues over the past years! Achtung Baby was re-released in five different formats, enough to suit every taste and price point: of course there was the standard single-disc remaster of the original album sequence. It was joined by a two-disc edition featuring B-sides and remixes, as well as a quadruple-vinyl set featuring Achtung Baby and its remixes and B-sides. Lastly, a Super Deluxe Edition hit stores in two unique formats itself. Ten discs are featured on each (six CDs and four DVDs) incorporating Achtung Baby, its 1993 follow-up Zooropa, B-sides, remixes and outtakes from each record, an alternate version of Achtung Baby entitled Kindergarten on the sixth CD, plus music videos, a new documentary Achtung (From the Sky Down), the Zoo TV concert from Sydney and more. The “basic” Super Deluxe edition offers an 84-page hardback book and 16 art prints, while the Uber Deluxe edition throws in stickers, badges, a copy of the band’s official magazine Propaganda, the Achtung Baby album and selected singles on vinyl and (are you ready for this?) a pair of Bono’s trademark “Fly” sunglasses. Needless to say, these should be the final words on Achtung Baby for quite some time.
61. Guns N’ Roses, Appetite for Destruction (Geffen, 1987)
Welcome to the jungle! When Guns N’ Roses burst onto the Los Angeles music scene in 1987, the success of lead vocalist Axl Rose, lead guitarist Slash, rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin, bassist Duff McKagan and drummer Steven Adler was far from assured. The band’s debut album, Appetite for Destruction, landed at No. 182 when it premiered on the Billboard chart in August 1987. But its blend of hard rock attitude and well-crafted, melodic songs (self-written by the band members in various permutations) proved irresistible, and positive buzz helped it climb straight to the top. Some 50 weeks after its debut, Appetite hit pole position, where it remained for four weeks, solidifying Guns N’ Roses’ place as one of the most important rock bands of the pop-dominated 1980s. “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Paradise City” and “Sweet Child O’Mine” all were successful singles, too, hitting No. 7, No. 5 and No. 1, respectively, on the Hot 100.
Barry Diament mastered the original CD, which arrived at the same time as the LP and cassette editions (Geffen WPCD-3690, 1987). When Geffen shifted distribution from Warner Bros. to Universal Music, a new standard CD edition was pressed. (A “clean,” censored version also exists.) Geffen issued a gold disc in 1995 (9 24148-2) and Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab gave Appetite its own trademark Gold CD treatment in 1997 (UDCD 699). Like many other MFSL titles of the era, it’s rather rare today. The album has also received numerous Japanese CD reissues, most recently an SHM-CD edition (UICY-91203, 2009). Internal politics between the notoriously fractious band members and Geffen Records (now part of Universal) have likely led to the lack of any major domestic reissues for Appetite for Destruction. But with its 25th anniversary rapidly approaching, “anything goes!”
Tomorrow: Mike pays return visits to Stevie Wonder and The Beatles, along with the Stones (Sly and Rolling)! Plus: what might be the wildest album on this Top 100!