Some of the best reissues of 2019. Click the titles to find full reviews and music samples.
Various Artists: The Bakersfield Sound
A towering achievement in musical archaeology, even when measured against Bear Familyâ€™s stratospherically high standard. Reissue producer Scott B. Bomar digs deeply into Bakersfieldâ€™s musical soil to explore the migrant roots that coalesced into the history, connections, influences and circumstances that forged the Bakersfield Sound. Ten discs, nearly three-hundred tracks, and a 224-page hardcover book essay the scenes development, how lesser-known players contributed to those who would become stars, and how the stars blossomed from their roots. Reissue of the year.
Various Artists: Cadillac Babyâ€™s Bea & Baby Records â€“ The Definitive Collection
Triple-disc set cataloging the riches of Narvel â€œCadillac Babyâ€ Eatmonâ€™s Chicago-based labels, including Bea & Baby, Key, Keyhole, Ronald and Miss. Competing with Chess, Vee-Jay, Brunswick and Delmark in the early â€˜60s, the entrepreneurial Eatmon sourced acts through his Show Lounge nightclub, and built a small, but artistically important catalog that includes blues, soul, R&B doo-wop and Latin-tinged numbers. The accompanying 128-page hardbound book includes a lengthy interview with Eatmon, alongside producerâ€™s notes, liners, and artist profiles.
Blinky: Heart Full of Soul â€“ The Motown Anthology
Sondra â€œBlinkyâ€ Williams may be Motownâ€™s most widely heard unsung singer. She recorded dozens of sides for the Detroit powerhouse, but only a few ever made it to market. At the same time, she was heard weekly by millions of television viewers as Jim Gilstrapâ€™s duet partner on the theme song to Good Times. Her many fans have lobbied for years to â€œfree Blinky from the vaults,â€ and with Real Goneâ€™s two-CD set, their wish has finally been granted.
Buck Owens and the Buckaroos: The Complete Capitol Singles 1971-1975
The third of three double-disc sets cataloging Buck Owensâ€™ singles on Capitol. Though he didnâ€™t have the same level of commercial success in the early 1970s that heâ€™d had throughout the 1960s, his artistry was undimmed, and his omnivorous musical appetite was still unsated. Recording primarily in his own Bakersfield studio, he covered material from outside the country realm, and stretched out from his classic Telecaster-and-steel sound to incorporate pop, bluegrass and gospel. A strong and fulfilling chapter of the Buck Owens legacy.
Hank Williams: The Complete Health & Happiness Recordings
Third try is the charm. Williamsâ€™ 1949 radio transcriptions for patent medicine sponsor Hadacol have slowly been resuscitated and restored over a series of releases, culminating in this best-yet edition. In a year that saw Williams transition from the Hayride to the Opry, and evolve his material from a cover of â€œLove Sick Bluesâ€ to the iconic original â€œIâ€™m So Lonesome I Could Cry,â€ these eight shows capture Williams on a fast-moving train to stardom. This new restoration attends to both the physical issues of the source transcriptions and the aural issues of earlier remasters.
Van Duren: Waiting â€“ The Van Duren Story
Following Big Star by a few years, Van Duren suffered the same lack of renown as his fellow Memphians. Though Big Starâ€™s public renown grew over the decades, Duren has remained obscure. A limited edition Japanese reissue of his 1977 debut failed to spread the word, and his follow-up album remained vaulted for decades. But with this documentary soundtrack sampling the rich Badfinger/Rundgren sounds of his late-70s power-pop, Durenâ€™s music may finally reach the sympathetic ears it deserves.
Uncle Waltâ€™s Band: Uncle Waltâ€™s Band
This springboard for Walter Hyatt, Champ Hood and David Ball was well-known in their adopted Austin, and among in-the-know music fans; but their instrumental finesse and joyous mix of country, jazz, folk, blues, bluegrass and swing was too sophisticated for reduction to a commercial concern. Omnivoreâ€™s reissue of the groupâ€™s 1974 debut polishes the brilliant gem by doubling the original track count with eleven bonus demos and live recordings.
The conflagration of criticism and meta-criticism that burned this release to a crisp two years after its release is one of the stranger chapters in pop critic history. Yum Yumâ€™s Chris Holmes was, according to his former roommate Thomas Frank, a prankster faking out his record company in a quixotic bid to supplant corporate Alternative Rock with finely crafted orchestral pop. Absurd on its face, Frankâ€™s critique caught fire in an escalating war of meta-criticism. More than twenty years later, Holmesâ€™ creation remains sweetly satisfying to those with a taste for candy.
Robin Lane & The Chartbusters: Many Years Ago
Triple-disc set pulling together the great Boston bandâ€™s entire first-run catalog, including pre-signing demos and an indie single, two albums and a live EP for Warner Brothers, a post-Warner EP, demos, session tracks, and live material. The music rings with the passion of its author and the intensity of the bandâ€™s playing.
The Strangeloves: I Want Candy
Three Australian sheep-farming brothers turned out to be a trio of New York songwriter-producers coping with the British Invasion. The authors of the Angelsâ€™ â€œMy Boyfriendâ€™s Backâ€ turned themselves into a beat group with the earworms â€œI Want Candy,â€ â€œCara-Linâ€ and â€œNight Time,â€ and waxed a full album of catchy Bo Diddley beats. Reissued on red vinyl, the original mono mix delivers an AM radio gut punch and an object lesson in the power of mid-60s mono vs. stereo.
Various Artists: Thatâ€™ll Flat Git It! Vol. 32
Twenty-eight years and thirty-two volumes in, there is still life in Bear Familyâ€™s rockabilly anthology series. This latest edition takes a fourth trip into the vaults of Decca, Brunswick and Coral, and turns up a surprising number of worthy sides. The labelâ€™s typical attention to detail fills out a 39-page booklet with period photos, label reproductions, and knowledgeable liner notes by Bill Dahl.