JC Mosquito’s Top Reissues for 2014: Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, CSNY, others

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Once again, that time of the year is upon us when the holiday shopping season ramps up into overdrive. Soon will begin the usual post-Thanksgiving ritual of frantic consumers racing from one big box store to another, trying to find those perfect gifts at the tops of their loved ones’ holiday wish lists.

Perhaps of less importance, it’s also the time of year when columnists of both hard copy and electronic persuasions start compiling their own particular lists: the annual retrospective ranking of all things significant in their particular corner of the modern cultural jungle.

Of course, it’s possible to cut the workload in half by combining the two, and so here’s a list of top reissues of 2014, which could serve as the perfect gift or at least a stocking stuffer, depending upon tastes and/or budget:

CROSBY STILLS NASH AND YOUNG – CSNY 1974: Not technically a reissue (unless you count the appearance of “Pushed It Over the End” on an Italian B-side once upon a time), but still a multi-CD/DVD box set celebrating the stadium triumph of one of rock’s most enduring supergroups. There are more than a few live versions of hard to find CSNY rarities, but other than that, it’s like an expanded version of that original CSNY live document from 1971, Four Way Street. Ultimately, it’s a case of if more of the same is OK, then this one’s for you.

LED ZEPPELIN – IV AND HOUSE OF THE HOLY: All of the Zeppelin remasters were highly anticipated, but in the end, who really needs instrumental versions or studio rough mixes of songs that sounded pretty good already? For completeists only.

BOB DYLAN AND THE BAND – THE BASEMENT TAPES COMPLETE: Long held as a glimpse of the Holy Grail in its original bootleg versions and the tracks that turned up on the official 1975 release, for some listeners this 6-CD version might be a case of more is less. There’ll be definitely less in your wallet; if that’s a concern, try for the 2-CD edited version called The Basement Tapes Raw.

THE VELVET UNDERGROUND – THE VELVET UNDERGROUND: 45th ANNIVERSARY SUPER DELUXE EDITION: Here are 6 CDs from the era of the Velvets’ third album, including the third album’s “normal” stereo mix; Lou Reed’s infamous “closet” mix; the mono mix; some VU and ‘Another View’ session remixes; and a live performance at the Matrix in San Francisco that would form part of the posthumous band release 1969: The Velvet Underground Live. Most tracks have been previously released, but the Matrix recording contains a nearly 37-minute version of “Sister Ray” that never did fit onto one side of vinyl.

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART AND THE MAGIC BAND – SUN ZOOM SPARK 1970 TO 72: Although chiefly remembered for the ground breaking and challenging Trout Mask Replica, it’s often forgotten that Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band subsequently released much more commercially accessible albums of their art/blues rock. This is a 4-CD set that remasters the three albums released through in the early 1970s as well as one disc of alternates and outtakes, some of which eventually saw release as different versions on subsequent albums. This is definitely one of the best reissues of the year. Just be careful: if you’re thinking this would make a great surprise gift for someone this holiday season, make sure they aren’t the sort of music fan that thinks the Magic Band has a real name, and that name is Pilot.

JC Mosquito

JC Mosquito

JC Mosquito spends most of his day keeping the wolves from the door. When he's not occupied with this pastime, he's interested in all things rock and roll -- which may or may not have died back in the late 1950s, the late 1970s, or the early '90s, depending on who you believe. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
JC Mosquito
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  • fasterhorses

    What a bizarre blurb about the LZ remasters. Perhaps their music isn’t for you.

    • JC Mosquito

      I bought ’em all so far – I do like the remasters albums, but the “bonus” discs have mostly left me (and my wallet) unimpressed. There’s lots of examples out there in youtubeland that would have been far more appreciated – for instance, an alternate version/mix of “Levee” that starts out with some tape weirdness, and opens with the “Mean ol’ lady, taught me to weep and moan” verse. And don’t forget – some tracks from Physical Graffiti came from these sessions originally, so why aren’t they here? And where’s the rest of How the West was Won? That was from a tour somewhere about this time period as well. Not that we really need Zep’s live version of Louie Louie, but you get my point – there’s lots of other stuff out there.

      The Physical Graffiti reissue will be most revealing – will the original
      Midnight Moonlight finally turn up, or will it be just more of the same
      incomplete or working mixes presented so far?

  • Craig

    Bought the Captain Beefheart re-issue and it is worth every penny. Fantastic box set .. and naturally .. some of the best American music of the century.