fb-pixelSeven of the year’s most rewarding reissues and box sets - The Boston Globe Skip to main content

Seven of the year’s most rewarding reissues and box sets

The Beatles' "Revolver" Special EditionApple/Capitol/UMe

“Revolver” Special Edition (Super Deluxe), The Beatles

Last year’s gargantuan deluxe edition of “Let It Be” had the advantage of a cultural event — Disney+’s nearly eight-hour “The Beatles: Get Back” — to draw interest to its outtakes and mess-arounds. There’s no such hook for the similarly stuffed “Revolver” reissue, so all it has going for it is a snapshot of arguably the single most fertile, creative, and experimental period in the band’s history. Songwriting work tapes, unprocessed takes (like “Rain” minus backwards effects and at its original tempo and pitch), alternate versions of songs that sometimes ended up wildly different: It’s holy grail after holy grail for Beatlemaniacs. (Marc Hirsh)


"Joe Strummer 002"Dark Horse Records

“Joe Strummer 002,″ Joe Strummer

While perhaps not as revelatory as its “001″ predecessor, which provided the first taste of the archives that Joe Strummer accumulated through his inveterate tendency to preserve pretty much everything musical that he ever did, “Joe Strummer 002″ heads in a different direction. It collects the three albums he made in his post-Clash guise with the Mescaleros when, more than a decade after “the only band that matters” broke up, he finally gave full expression to the proclivity to move beyond punk rock per se that he had displayed in the Clash. The set provides context for those albums with a disc’s worth of significant B-sides, unreleased tracks, demos, and home recordings. (Stuart Munro)

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' "Live at the Fillmore, 1997”Associated Press

“Live at the Fillmore, 1997,″ Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Two years after Tom Petty and his band played a historic 20-date residency at San Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium, they returned for another week-long run. “It was a very successful experiment for us,” Petty recalled of the earlier visit. “I think we enjoyed it more than anything we’ve ever done with the Heartbreakers.” That comes through loud and clear on this four-disc (or six-LP), 72-track set, from the opening take on Chuck Berry’s “Around and Around” to the lullaby closer, “Alright for Now.” (For the budget conscious, there’s a pared-down version with 33 tracks.) In between the bookends, Petty and his mates make like the world’s greatest house band, digging into a slew of joyful covers, among them JJ Cale’s “Call Me the Breeze,” Booker T. and the MG’s “Hip Hugger,” and “a song I learned at camp,” the Louisiana state song, “You Are My Sunshine.” (James Sullivan)


"The Complete Freddie Hubbard Blue Note & Impulse ‘60s Studio Sessions”Mosaic Records

“The Complete Blue Note & Impulse ‘60s Studio Sessions,” Freddie Hubbard

Freddie Hubbard was arguably the finest post-bop trumpeter of the 1960s, the possessor of a gleaming, immaculate tone and chops to school all comers. Between 1960 and 1966 he made 10 recordings as a leader, eight for Blue Note and the remaining two for Impulse. All are collected in this seven-CD set from Mosaic, the standard bearer in archival jazz releases. In the company of many of the era’s jazz luminaries, Hubbard showcases not just brilliant sound and killer technique but a musicality that makes these sessions still fresh and vital six decades on. (David Weininger)

David Bowie's "Divine Symmetry"Parlophone

“Divine Symmetry,” David Bowie

Pinpointing an artist’s maturity is always a dicey proposition, but there’s reasonably broad agreement that David Bowie became, well, David Bowie with the 1971 release of “Hunky Dory.” This gorgeously packaged set — including a slipcase, hardcover book, and four CDs of demos, alternate mixes, and live tracks — documents in exhaustive detail his journey to that landmark. “Divine Symmetry” captures Bowie in a moment of crisis, cycling through folk, pop, cabaret, and R&B, struggling to find his authentic self and sound. As if by magic, “Changes” and “Life on Mars?” appear, and suddenly he’s David Bowie, embarking on a career of ceaseless transformation. (David Weininger)


Guns N’ Roses' “Use Your Illusion I & II” Super DeluxeGeffen Records

“Use Your Illusion I & II” Super Deluxe, Guns N’ Roses

Unlike similar megabox re-releases, there are no outtakes, alternate versions, or demos; as if the heft (and the wobbly landing at the end of “II”) didn’t make it clear, Gn’R didn’t really leave anything on the table when they went into the studio determined to outdo “Appetite For Destruction” on every front. Instead, there are two complete concerts here: a warm-up show featuring guitarist/songwriter Izzy Stradlin from when the albums were still a mystery, one a year later with his replacement Gilby Clarke from before the “November Rain” video that vaulted them — again — into legend. No matter; we’ll always have “Coma.” (Marc Hirsh)

"When Do We Get Paid" by the Staples Jr. SingersLuaka Bop Records

“When Do We Get Paid,” The Staples Jr. Singers

The Staples Jr. Singers weren’t Staples; they were three of the kids — Edward, Annie, and A.R.C — from an Aberdeen, Miss., family named Brown. But they were so thoroughly influenced by the deep soul gospel sound of the formidable Staple Singers that they decided to name themselves after their idols. This 1975 record is the only full-length they made under that name (before going on to long and successful gospel careers), and if it’s a little rough around the edges, that is part of its charm. (Stuart Munro)