As with every year’s awards, our goals are simple: to recognize as many of the year’s most essential reissues and catalogue titles as possible, and to celebrate as many of those labels, producers and artists who make these releases happen in an increasingly-challenging retail landscape. The labels you’ll read about below have, by and large, bucked the trends to prove that there’s still a demand for physical catalogue music that you can purchase in brick-and-mortar stores. And from our vantage point, there’s still great strength and health in our corner of the music industry. By my estimate, The Second Disc covered roughly 500 compact disc releases in 2014 – and we have no reason to believe that number will decrease in the year ahead. We dedicate The Gold Bonus Disc Awards to the creators of the music and releases we cover, to the dedicated retailers who continue to support catalogue titles, and most importantly, to you, our readers. After all, your interest is ultimately what keeps great music of the past – this site’s raison d’etre – alive and well.
Which releases take home the gold this year? Hit the jump below to find out!
All winners are in bold, and we’ve linked to our original reviews and features in the body of each category’s text.
Bryan Adams, Reckless: Super Deluxe Edition (Blu-ray Audio) (A&M/UMe)
Jethro Tull, WarChild: 40th Anniversary Edition (DVD) (Rhino)
Al Kooper, Mike Bloomfield and Stephen Stills, Super Session (SACD) (Audio Fidelity)
Blood, Sweat and Tears, Child is Father to the Man (SACD) (Audio Fidelity)
XTC, Drums and Wires (Blu-ray Audio, DVD Audio) Ape House)
Tears for Fears, Songs from the Big Chair: Super Deluxe Edition (Blu-ray Audio, DVD Audio) (Universal U.K.)
Yes, Relayer (Blu-ray Audio, DVD Audio) (Panegyric)
In 2013, Blu-ray Audio really took off, and the format continued as the 5.1 surround-sound medium of choice in 2014 for releases including Bob Clearmountain’s stellar remix of Bryan Adams’ Reckless and many of Steven Wilson’s superb remixes (XTC, Yes, Tears for Fears – all of which are also available on DVD and/or DVD-A). But SACD isn’t dead yet, either, thanks in great part to Audio Fidelity and Mobile Fidelity’s audiophile-aimed releases. Though MoFi has generally steered clear of surround, Audio Fidelity has launched an exciting new series of surround releases including two remixes by producer Al Kooper: Blood, Sweat and Tears’ Child is Father to the Man and our winner, Kooper, Bloomfield and Stills’ Super Session. AF is continuing its SACD series with some long-awaited 4.0 quadraphonic reissues from BS&T and The Guess Who, and the label has also announced a partnership with the Grammy-winning surround engineer Elliot Scheiner. May 2015 bring many more titles in the immersive world of surround.
The Allman Brothers Band, The 1971 Fillmore East Recordings (Universal)
Billy Joel, A Matter of Trust: The Bridge to Russia (Columbia/Legacy)
Johnny Mathis, The Global Albums Collection (Legacy)
Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner, Just Between You and Me: 1967-1976 (Bear Family)
Various Artists, Troubadours: Folk and the Roots of American Music (Bear Family)
The Beatles, The U.S. Albums / The Japan Box (Capitol/Apple/UMe)
Bobby Darin, The Milk Shows (Edsel)
Todd Rundgren, Todd Rundgren at the BBC (Esoteric)
Various Artists, Truckers, Kickers, Cowboy Angels: The Blissed Out Birth of Country Rock (Bear Family)
The titles in this field all painted comprehensive portraits of their diverse subjects in music, text and packaging (and in the case of our winner, even video), making clear the subject’s cultural impact for a modern-day audience. Universal’s recent complete accounting of the 1971 Fillmore East recordings of The Allman Brothers was a particularly affecting snapshot of a moment in time considering the band’s retirement this year. Legacy’s collection of Johnny Mathis’ Global/Mercury albums shed light on a criminally-unknown period of experimentation for the legendary singer, while Bear Family continued to do what it does best with definitive collections dedicated to both artists (Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner) and genres (folk music, country-rock, etc.). The Beatles celebrated the 50th anniversary of the British Invasion with box sets compiling the group’s American and Japanese albums, though the otherwise-impressive American set was marred by confusion and frustration over the mixes utilized. Our winner, A Matter of Trust: The Bridge to Russia, not only granted redemption for a maligned album with its expansion of Billy Joel’s KOHUEPT, but placed Joel’s remarkable 1987 trip to the Soviet Union into thrilling historical perspective.
Blood, Sweat and Tears, The Complete Columbia Singles (Real Gone Music)
Eric Carmen, The Essential Eric Carmen (Arista/Legacy)
Loleatta Holloway, Dreamin’ – The Loleatta Holloway Anthology (1976-1982) (Big Break)
Wilco, What’s Your 20? Essential Tracks 1994-2014 / Alpha Mike Foxtrot: Rare Tracks 1994-2014 (Nonesuch)
Johnny Winter, True to the Blues: The Johnny Winter Story (Columbia/Legacy)
The Grass Roots, The Complete Original Dunhill/ABC Hit Singles (Real Gone Music)
Joni Mitchell, Love Has Many Faces (Reprise/Rhino)
Spanky and Our Gang, The Complete Mercury Singles (Real Gone Music)
Every one of the above-mentioned sets was so expertly curated that the anthology in question cast its subject in a new light. The Gold Bonus Disc goes to Real Gone Music for its first-ever complete survey of Blood, Sweat and Tears’ Columbia singles. The pioneering horn-rock band sometimes gets a bad rap, in part because of the radical personnel shift that saw Al Kooper out and David Clayton-Thomas in, and partially because the band never topped the success of its sophomore effort. But this collection proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that BS&T had much to offer throughout its entire tenure at Columbia Records, even if the public wasn’t always quick to catch on. As such, it allows for a reappraisal of the band’s oeuvre and a new appreciation of the group’s quintessential musicianship. With similar sets for artists like The Grass Roots and Spanky and Our Gang (just to name a couple), Real Gone is a true leader of the pack.
Audio with a G: Sounds of a Jersey Boy –The Music of Bob Gaudio (Rhino)
Chicago Hit Factory: The Vee-Jay Story 1953-1966 (Charly)
Colour My World: The Songs of Tony Hatch (Ace)
Lou Adler: A Musical History (Ace)
Purple Snow: Forecasting the Minneapolis Sound (Numero Group)
John Coltrane and Friends, Sideman: Trane’s Blue Note Sessions (Blue Note)
The London American Label series (Ace)
Many of 2014’s best various-artists anthologies were dedicated to composers, producers, or composer-producers such as Rhino’s 2-CD tribute to The Four Seasons’ Bob Gaudio (Audio with a G) and Ace’s impressive celebration of the career of impresario Lou Adler (A Musical History). Blue Note’s 75th anniversary series offered many treasures including a compendium of John Coltrane as a sideman. Chicago Hit Factory and The London American Label anthologized labels, and the lavish 2-CD/hardcover book set Purple Snow immersed listeners into the Minneapolis of young Prince Rogers Nelson. But our winner is Ace’s Colour My World: The Songs of Tony Hatch, quite simply one of the most euphoric, effervescent compilations of unabashedly tuneful, musically exciting pop songs we’ve heard in ages. Bring on Volume Two!
The Brothers and Sisters, Dylan’s Gospel (Light in the Attic)
Hazell Dean, The Sound of Bacharach and David (Cherry Pop)
Paul Parrish, The Forest of My Mind (Now Sounds)
Sid Selvidge, The Cold of the Morning (Omnivore)
Carol Williams and the Salsoul Orchestra, ‘Lectric Lady: Expanded Edition (Big Break)
Cock Robin, Cock Robin (Cherry Pop)
Ruthann Friedman, The Complete Constant Companion Sessions (Now Sounds)
How to compare the hidden treasures released in 2014? Light in the Attic rescued Dylan’s Gospel from Lou Adler’s Ode Records archive, finding the deep spirituality in the Bard of Hibbing’s remarkable first decade of songs. Cherry Pop rescued a rare promotional tribute from Hazell Dean to one of the greatest songwriting teams of all time and gave the deluxe treatment to the underrated band Cock Robin. Now Sounds unearthed a psychedelic gem unlike any other in Detroit’s musical history with Paul Parrish’s The Forest of My Mind, and Omnivore feted Sid Selvidge, a songwriter whose singularly soulful style nearly defies description. But the Gold Bonus Disc goes to Big Break Records for its reappraisal of the volcanic vocal talent of Carol Williams. Melding Williams’ powerful pipes with the sweet soul, disco and R&B stylings of Vince Montana Jr.’s Salsoul Orchestra, ‘Lectric Lady was positively ‘lectrifying in BBR’s expanded edition.
Michael Bloomfield, From His Head to His Heart to His Hands (Legacy)
Nils Lofgren, Face the Music (Concord)
Pugwash, A Rose in a Garden of Weeds (Omnivore)
Stories, Stories Untold: The Very Best of Stories (Real Gone Music)
Various Artists, Warfaring Strangers: Darkscorch Canticles (Numero)
Captain Beefheart, SUN ZOOM SPARK 1970-1972 (Rhino)
Posies, Failure: Expanded Edition (Omnivore)
Dee Dee Warwick, The Complete Atco Recordings (SoulMusic/Real Gone)
Hidden treasures come in many sizes, from box sets (the massive 9-CD/1-DVD Face the Music, revealing the solo talent of E Street Band and Crazy Horse guitarist Nils Lofgren; the occult-blues-rock collection Darkscorch Canticles featuring bands with names like Triton Warrior, Stone Axe, Stoned Mace, Hellstorm, and Gorgon Medusa in an edition with an actual role playing game; Legacy’s dynamic career retrospective for guitar legend Michael Bloomfield; Rhino’s survey of Captain Beefheart’s most “commercial” period) to single-disc sets (Real Gone’s superb Stories Untold from the “Brother Louie” band, Omnivore’s packed expansion of The Posies’ perfect power-pop debut). It’s the latter category that fits our winner, Pugwash’s A Rose in a Garden of Weeds. Though its songs were recorded between 1999 and 2011, this Garden is deliciously out-of-time, with references to the Beach Boys, The Beatles, XTC and especially ELO – all rendered so originally as to transcend mere pastiche. Omnivore’s beautifully produced anthology is sure to earn Pugwash more than a few fans.
Sheldon Harnick, Hidden Treasures 1949-2013 (Harbinger)
Shirley Jones and Jack Cassidy, Marriage Type Love (Masterworks Broadway)
Diana Ross and the Supremes, Sing and Perform Funny Girl (Motown Select, digital only)
Andy Capp: Original London Cast Recording (Stage Door)
On the Town: Original London Cast Recording (Masterworks Broadway)
Funny Girl – Original Broadway Cast Recording: 50th Anniversary Edition (Capitol/UMe)
“Quality” won out over “quantity” when it came to 2014’s theatre-related catalogue releases. Despite a general dearth of activity, Stage Door U.K. stepped up to the plate with a number of rare British musical treats including Andy Capp, Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Worzel Gummidge, while Masterworks Broadway continued its CD-R/DD program with rarities like the Original London Cast Recording of Bernstein, Comden and Green’s On the Town and a never-before-heard album of romantic melodies from Shirley Jones and Jack Cassidy. Though it sadly has been denied a CD release (hopefully for now), Motown Select offered another thrilling treat with its expanded reissue of Diana Ross and the Supremes’ rendering of the Styne/Merrill score to Funny Girl. (Honorable mention goes to Capitol’s 50th anniversary CD/LP edition of the Funny Girl original cast album. As this set neglected to include the mono version of the album, with its alternate takes, or any other supplemental material, it was a missed opportunity. Its hefty, $100-price price tag was also eye-opening. But now, available from Amazon at roughly $35, this set can be appreciated for its attractive packaging and remastered sound.) The Gold Bonus Disc, however, goes to Harbinger’s altogether stunning 2-CD tribute to Sheldon Harnick (Fiddler on the Roof, She Loves Me), one of the musical theatre’s greatest lyricists and storytellers. With 52 rarities on two CDs and a 56-page booklet with Harnick’s own illuminating track-by-track liner notes, a foreword from Hal Prince and an introduction from producers Ken Bloom and Bill Rudman, this handsome, slipcased set may have been the ultimate Broadway stocking stuffer this year – and a historical treasure that belongs on any theatre fan or music lover’s shelf.
Leonard Bernstein, On the Waterfront (Intrada)
Jerome Kern, Centennial Summer (Kritzerland)
Henry Mancini, The Classic Soundtrack Collection (RCA/Legacy)
Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, Mary Poppins: The Legacy Collection (Disney)
Dimitri Tiomkin, It’s a Wonderful Life (Kritzerland)
John Barry, Peggy Sue Got Married (Varese Sarabande)
Elmer Bernstein, The Ava Collection (Intrada)
Henry Mancini, The Pink Panther Strikes Again (Quartet)
Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, The Little Mermaid: The Legacy Collection (Disney)
Ira Newborn, The Naked Gun Trilogy (La La Land)
Stalwart film score labels Intrada, Kritzerland, La-La Land and Quartet Records all continued to amaze with a variety of world premiere soundtrack releases in 2015; Walt Disney Records upped its game, as well, with the launch of The Legacy Collection, a new series expanding key titles from Disney’s vast library as 2-, 3-, or even 4-CD sets. A different Legacy – Legacy Recordings – paid homage to Henry Mancini with an essential collection of his soundtrack recordings as originally released on RCA Victor, Columbia and Epic. The Gold Bonus Disc goes to Kritzerland this year, though, for its first-time release of the score to one of the most beloved motion pictures of all time. The label’s presentation of Dimitri Tiomkin’s score to Frank Capra’s holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life, with top-notch sound, proved that anything is truly possible and good things do come to those who wait!
John Coltrane, Offering: Live at Temple University (Impulse!/Resonance)
Miles Davis, Miles at the Fillmore – Miles Davis 1970: The Bootleg Series Vol. 3 (Columbia/Legacy)
Doris Day, Music, Movies and Memories (Real Gone Music)
Judy Garland, The Garland Variations: Songs She Recorded More Than Once (JSP)
Frank Sinatra, London (UMe)
Bayeté, Worlds Around the Sun (Omnivore)
Clifford Brown, Brownie Speaks: The Complete Blue Note Recordings (Blue Note)
Herbie Hancock, The Warner Bros. Years 1969-1972 (Warner Bros./Rhino)
Charles Lloyd, Manhattan Stories (Resonance)
Legends of popular song (Doris Day, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra) and jazz (Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock) received a lot of love this past year, as well as some under-the-radar names deserving of recognition (Todd Cochran, a.k.a. Bayeté). The Gold Bonus Disc goes to London, the 3-CD/1-DVD box set from Frank Sinatra which hopefully will prove the kickoff of the Chairman of the Board’s centennial. Among its studio and live recordings, London notably included an entire disc of session outtakes and alternates from the album Great Songs from Great Britain, exactly the kind of bonus material fans have hoped might one day see official release. This box could prove an auspicious start to a celebration worthy of Ol’ Blue Eyes.
Ned Doheny, Separate Oceans (Numero)
Donna Loren, These Are the Good Times: The Complete Capitol Recordings (Now Sounds)
The Moody Blues, The Magnificent Moodies: 50th Anniversary Edition (Esoteric)
Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, Riding Your Way: The Lost Transcriptions for Tiffany Music 1946-1947 (Real Gone Music)
Hank Williams, The Garden Spot Programs 1950 (Omnivore)
Big Star, Live in Memphis (Omnivore)
Cass Elliot, Don’t Call Me Mama Anymore: Her Final Recordings (Real Gone Music)
Diana Ross, Swept Away: Expanded Edition (Funky Town Grooves)
Todd Rundgren, Runt/The Alternate Runt (Edsel)
Dionne Warwick, Finder of Lost Loves: Expanded Edition (Funky Town Grooves)
Size isn’t everything. Every one of the above-mentioned titles is either a 1-CD or 2-CD set, but each was packed with enough riches to allow for hours and hours of compelling listening, whether via quirky SoCal soft rock (the richly rewarding Separate Oceans, from Ned Doheny), vintage country-and-western (Bob Wills, Hank Williams), Memphis power-pop (Big Star), and British Invasion-style pop/R&B (The Moody Blues). That wasn’t all; Funky Town Grooves unearthed numerous rare tracks from the Sony vaults on expanded reissues from Diana Ross and Dionne Warwick, Real Gone captured a snapshot of “Mama” Cass Elliot in her prime, just one year before her tragic death, and Edsel granted the alternate version of Todd Rundgren’s pop feast Runt its own disc as part of a deluxe edition of the original album. Yet Now Sounds takes the Gold Bonus Disc for a release that lives up to its title: Donna Loren’s These Are the Good Times. Featuring the cream of the crop of L.A.’s Wrecking Crew (including Hal Blaine, Carol Kaye, Glen Campbell and Leon Russell) and some of pop’s greatest talents (Goffin and King, Mann and Weil, Jack Nitzsche, Randy Newman, Jackie DeShannon), These Are the Good Times is an ingenious album that never was – with period-perfect design, excellent liner notes and crisp remastering. Though Loren only had one Capitol album to her name (Beach Blanket Bingo, which is also included in full on this disc), it wasn’t a true indicator of her talents. This creative, cleverly-compiled and beautifully-presented to her discography makes for an invigorating discovery.
Chuck Berry, Rock and Roll Music, Any Old Way You Choose It (Bear Family)
Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, CSNY 1974 (Atlantic/Rhino)
Holland-Dozier-Holland: The Complete 45s Collection: Invictus/Hot Wax/Music Merchant 1969-1977 (Harmless)
Suzi Quatro, The Girl from Detroit City (Cherry Red)
Donna Summer, The CD Collection (Driven by the Music/Demon)
George Harrison, The Apple Years (Apple/UMe)
The Kinks, Anthology 1964-1971 (BMG/InGrooves)
Ronnie Milsap, The Complete RCA Albums Collection (RCA/Legacy)
Bruce Springsteen, The Album Collection Volume One (Columbia/Legacy)
Lisa Stansfield, The Collection 1989-2003 (Edsel)
Any old way you choose it, the winner of the Gold Bonus Disc has got to be Rock and Roll Music, Bear Family’s colossal tribute to Chuck Berry. With 16 CDs dedicated to an influential artist who might well embody the essence of rock and roll, this compendium will be a cornerstone of many a collection. But other, smaller boxes were no less impressive, including CSNY’s long-delayed, still-exhilarating account of the band’s 1974 “Doom Tour,” Harmless’ definitive anthology of Holland-Dozier-Holland’s post-Motown productions on 45, Cherry Red’s career retrospective for Suzi Quatro, and Driven by the Music’s comprehensive look at some of Donna Summer’s least well-known and most misunderstood albums.
Bob Dylan and The Band, The Bootleg Series Volume 11: The Basement Tapes Complete (Columbia/Legacy)
Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin III (Atlantic/Rhino)
Paul McCartney and Wings, The Paul McCartney Archive Collection: Venus and Mars (MPL/Hear Music)
The Monkees, The Monkees: Super Deluxe Edition (Rhino)
Elvis Presley, Elvis: That’s the Way It Is (RCA/Legacy)
Tears for Fears, Songs from the Big Chair: Super Deluxe Edition (Universal U.K.)
The Velvet Underground, The Velvet Underground: Super Deluxe Edition (UMe)
It’s not at all atypical today for an album that was once was 40 minutes or so in length to be expanded to 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6-plus discs; such expansions were granted this year to the first six albums from Led Zeppelin (including our nominee, the seminal III), two more from Paul McCartney as part of his exemplary Archive Collection, and more from The Monkees and Elvis Presley. But no title caused as much excitement this year – and rightfully so – as the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink edition of Bob Dylan and The Band’s historic Basement Tapes. Recorded in 1967 and 1968 and first issued in heavily truncated and even re-recorded form in 1975, these original tapes became the stuff of legend. But with this release, Legacy Recordings did the bootleggers one better and gave the fans everything they could have wanted – and more. The Basement Tapes Complete, with 138 songs on 6 CDs, is not just one of the most fascinating and important releases of 2014, but of the entire compact disc era. It takes the final Gold Bonus Disc Award of 2014. See you next year!