Happy 2023! Welcome, friends, to The Second Disc's 13th Annual Gold Bonus Disc Awards!
A lot has happened in the last twelve months, but as we look to a new year with optimism and a hopeful spirit, we recognize the many roles music has played in our lives. With that spirit in mind, The Second Disc wishes to recognize 2022's cream of the catalogue music crop - those exemplary reissues and box sets, big and small, that proved to be truly outstanding for music lovers worldwide. Despite the many delays caused by the lingering effects of COVID-19, there was no shortage of worthy reissue titles in 2022.
After much deliberation, we're excited to unveil our favorites. This isn't your run-of-the-mill Top 10, however. To cover as much ground and spotlight as many titles as we can, we've organized 26 of our favorites from A to Z, and included some additional titles that were just too good to leave out. (And while our own Second Disc Records releases such as Liza Minnelli's Live in New York 1979 and Stoney and Meatloaf's Everything Under the Sun: The Motown Recordings) were, of course, ineligible, we hope those made your own personal best-of lists!) It was a very good year across multiple genres: we've got rock, pop, jazz, soul, hip-hop, classical, soundtracks, musicals, and more here.
As always, The Gold Bonus Disc Awards are dedicated to the artists, labels, and behind-the-scenes producers, engineers, and writers who continue to prove the value in physical releases of catalogue music. We also want to thank all the brick-and-mortar stores who still remain dedicated to bringing these fantastic titles to listeners everywhere. Most importantly, we want to recognize you, our readers, for your lasting support and good conversation year-round.
Without any further ado, here's Part One of TSD's A-to-Z list of our favorite reissues of the year, spanning A-M. Look for Part Two (covering N-Z) tomorrow!
- Joe, Mike, and Randy
Al Stewart, The Admiralty Lights (Snapper)
Folk-rock troubadour Al Stewart might not have been the most likely name to headline a lavish, 50-CD box, but Madfish/Snapper impressed with The Admiralty Lights, supplementing Stewart's studio album discography on 21 CDs with 18 discs of concerts, 3 discs of BBC performances, and 8 discs of demos and rarities spanning the near-entirety of Stewart's career. Two books, including a 160-page hardcover tome written and scrupulously researched by Neville Judd, put the expansive collection of the artist's compelling brand of folk, rock, and pop into perspective. Get more details here. - JM
Blondie, Against All Odds (Numero/Capitol/UMe)
This box set had been promised for several years but finally hit shelves in 2022 - and it was worth the wait. Available in several formats (LP, CD, etc.), the biggest versions of the set contains all the New Wave group's albums for Private Stock and Chrysalis between 1976 and 1982. Boasting 124 tracks, the box also presents numerous bonus cuts including single versions, rarities, demos, and more. If that wasn't enough, the included book features excellent essays covering the history of the group and many photos. Blondie's beginnings are fully explored here and it is well worth it for fans to check it out. Read more here. - RF
Culture Club reissues (Universal Japan)
These were just released a couple of weeks ago and we just got our copies, but these '80s flashbacks were good enough to make our list. Universal Japan has reissued the four 1980s album by Culture Club: Kissing To Be Clever (1982), Colour By Numbers (1983), Waking Up With The House on Fire (1984) and From Luxury to Heartache (1986) in newly expanded editions (also part of the campaign are a CD/DVD Japanese Singles Collection and reissues of Boy George's first two solo albums). Housed in paper sleeves and newly remastered from the U.K. master tapes and presented in MQA x UHQCD format (playable in all CD players), there are a total of 33 bonus tracks across the 4 albums. This marks their most expansive presentation yet. While they may be a bit trickier to find, these reissues are well worth seeking out to hear how Culture Club helped define the sound of the 1980s. Special note should be made of the Japanese Singles Collection entry; other artists represented in this lavish CD/DVD series include Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Chicago, Billy Joel, Kenny Loggins, Wham!, and many more.- RF
David Bowie, Divine Symmetry: An Alternative Journey Through 'Hunky Dory' (Parlophone)
While 2022 didn't bring a new volume of David Bowie's Eras series, the late artist was nonetheless the subject of two stellar box sets. Toy: Box arrived early in the year, presenting the long-lost album with a host of extras. Divine Symmetry, which arrived in time for the holidays, explores the period of prolific, fertile creativity that led to the writing and recording of 1971's Hunky Dory. Through richly varied demos, live recordings, alternate versions, and more - all packaged within a 100-page hardcover book containing detailed liner notes, memorabilia, and ever-striking photos of the young singer-songwriter - this set is a textbook example on how to do an archival release right; the material on Divine Symmetry mightily adds to one's appreciation and understanding of the original album on which it's based. Read Joe's full review here. - JM
Elton John, Madman Across the Water (Mercury/UMe)
In recent years, archival material from the Elton John camp has become a more frequent occurrence, which is a cause for celebration indeed. The 3CD/1BD deluxe edition of Madman Across the Water is a tight collection with little that's extraneous: just the original album, a disc of intimate piano demos, a period BBC concert at which almost the entire album was performed, and a handful of bonus singles and alternate versions on CD. The Blu-ray Disc reprised a previously available surround mix of the album and presented the BBC concert and an additional appearance in video form. With Elton retreating from live performances, now is the time to finally mine his remarkable back catalogue. The elegant and just-right package for Madman Across the Water shows how successfully it can be done. Read more here. - JM
Film soundtracks and cast recordings thrived in 2022!
So-called "niche" genres such as film soundtracks and cast recordings both happily thrived in 2022. On the film front, Intrada, La-La Land, and Quartet Records all released some of their finest titles to date. Many of the major names in film score history were represented including Henry Mancini with Quartet's first release of his unused score to Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy and Intrada's reissue of his sci-fi epic Lifeforce; and John Barry and Elmer Bernstein with Quartet's Mary, Queen of Scots and The Magnificent Seven Collection, respectively. Quartet even brought Marvin Hamlisch's delightful score to Bananas to vinyl for the first time. LLL recently paid homage to John Williams (Amistad), Nino Rota (The Godfather), and Danny Elfman (Spider-Man). On the cast album front, Stage Door Records kept the flame burning brightly with top-drawer deluxe expansions of titles from Broadway (I Can Get It for You Wholesale, Carnival!, Donnybrook!) and beyond (solo titles from Lorna Dallas, Sally Ann Howes; the Mexico City cast recording of The Fantasticks), while Kritzerland uncovered some surprises such as the rare London cast recording of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. - JM
Vince Guaraldi, A Charlie Brown Christmas (Craft)
A Charlie Brown Christmas is a holiday classic and so is Vince Guaraldi's soundtrack to the television special. Reissued numerous times over the years and never long out-of-print, it was thought there was not much left to explore with the album. But then the tapes to the original sessions were located and fans were in for a yuletide bonanza. If the three mixes of the album were not enough (original stereo mix and new stereo and surround remixes), the 4-CD/1-Blu-ray set contains 58 tracks of session outtakes tracing the recording's development. These varied versions are well worth the price of admission alone but the set also has a great essay by Guaraldi expert Derrick Bang. You make you think you know this album inside and out, but this box proves how much more there was to explore. Read Mike's in-depth review here! - RF
Freddie Hubbard, The Complete Freddie Hubbard Blue Note and Impulse Studio Sessions (Mosaic)
Trumpeter Freddie Hubbard is a jazz legend and one of the biggest names in the hard bop genre. This 7-CD set from Mosaic collects all of the nine studio albums he made for Blue Note and Impulse! between 1960 and 1965. These were his first recordings as a leader and it's deeply fascinating to trace his journey over these discs. Mosaic does their usual fine job on the booklet, with insightful text and a well-researched sessionography. Presenting albums from both records labels give listeners a full picture of Hubbard during this period which should not be missed by jazz aficionados. - RF
Iconoclassic Records is back!
2022 saw the relaunch of the Iconoclassic label, and fans of the classic CD album reissue had ample reason to rejoice. With stellar titles from diverse artists in the realms of rock (Jimi Jamison, John Cafferty and The Beaver Brown Band, Rocky Burnette, The Damned, The Fall, Peter Green, Graham Parker, Dwight Twilley) and funk/R&B (Slave and Steve Arrington, BT Express, Ohio Players), Iconoclassic more than delivered the goods: remastered audio from original tape sources and deluxe booklets stuffed with photos, memorabilia, and definitive liner notes. Next up in February is a deluxe expanded reissue of Carole Bayer Sager's star-studded Sometimes Late at Night, featuring contributions from Burt Bacharach, Michael Jackson, Neil Diamond, David Foster, Melissa Manchester, Steve Lukather, Jeff Porcaro, Peter Allen, Marvin Hamlisch, Richard Page, and more! (Full disclosure: I wrote the liner notes for Sometimes Late at Night.) We can't wait to see what else the label is cooking up for CD fans and collectors in 2023! - JM
Joni Mitchell, The Asylum Albums (1972-1975) (Rhino)
One of the happiest launches in recent memory is that of Joni Mitchell's Archives series. The two-pronged approach has resulted in beautiful boxes packed with previously unreleased tracks as well as simpler but no less impressive collections of the remastered original albums. 2022 saw the release of The Asylum Albums (1972-1975) comprising four of Mitchell's most beloved LPs, all in splendid sound. Though the box naturally stands on its own, it's whetted appetites for the third Archives box set due in 2023 which will present the accompanying "bonus tracks," if you will, to that quartet of albums. No doubt it will meet, or surpass, the high bar set by the first two volumes. Read our review of The Asylum Albums (1972-1975) here. - JM
The Monkees, Headquarters (Rhino) / Various releases (7a Records)
2022 was a great year for Monkees fans. Rhino reactivated its series of box sets helmed by producer-annotator Andrew Sandoval with a deluxe 4-CD/1-7" single expansion of Headquarters, the creatively groundbreaking album which chronicled the television band's "Great Revolt of '67." Watch this space for our full review of this set soon! And as if that box wasn't enough, 7a Records turned out some of its most impressive reissues and collections from the catalogues of all four Monkees. Davy Jones' Manchester Boy: Personal File offered a long-unavailable glimpse into his archives, culling 15 choice cuts from his long-unavailable Just for the Record series. Micky Dolenz's Demoiselle expanded and upgraded his 1998 album (which, like Just for the Record, was never widely available). Peter Tork's This Stuff Never Gets Old delightfully presented four rare cuts on an EP, while expanded editions of Michael Nesmith's And The Hits Just Keep On Comin' and Tantamount to Treason Volume One returned those essential albums to print. A 2-CD collection from Dolenz, Jones, Boyce, and Hart was yet another must-have from the 7a team. - JM
Various Artists, Life Moves Pretty Fast: The John Hughes Mixtapes (Edsel)
This one was a bit of surprise release. Director John Hughes became synonymous with the teen film in the 1980s but also tackled more mature topics. But no matter the subject, he always had a keen ear for pop music to place in his movies. This 4-CD set from Edsel gathers 74 tracks which were featured across 11 films during the 1980s, Hughes' peak period. Arranged thematically rather than chronologically, the set is an excellent trip through the decade (with some detours to other years) that reminds you how Hughes painted a vivid musical landscape in his movies. The excellent booklet has track-by-track notes exploring each song and its place in the filmography. All in all, a must for Hughes fans or fans of eighties music. Read more here. - RF
Eugene Ormandy with the Minneapolis Symphony, The Complete RCA Album Collection (Sony Classical)
Eugene Ormandy is famous for being the conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra for several decades but he had a much shorter, earlier stint as the conductor of The Minneapolis Symphony during the 1930s. This 11-CD box covers that period and is derived from just two recording periods for RCA in 1934 and 1935. These 19 days of recording somehow yielded 174 sides (!) for 78 RPM discs. Many of these might be unfamiliar to modern audiences as a lot weren't ever issued on LP, let alone CD. Highlights include the 1935 recording of Mahler's "Resurrection" Symphony and the U.S. recorded premiere of Rachmaninoff's Second and Sibelius's First. Also heard is Bruckner's Seventh, Ormandy's only recording of Schumann's Fourth Symphony, and his first recording of Beethoven's Fourth. Fans of Ormandy's later, more famous work would be well served to seek out these early recordings. Get more details here! - RF
Come back tomorrow for Part Two, covering N-Z!