Sunday, May 1, 2011

Too Much Ain't Enough - "Deluxe" Reissues Worth Grabbing

In the last two or three years it seems that, more and more often, record collectors are tempted with re-reissued, re-remastered "deluxe" or "anniversary" editions of classic records we've already purchased more than once. And, even as a completist, I have to admit that, more often than not, these are simply not worth the repurchase. Much like all the touted extras on DVD double-dips, the bonus contents on these new packages drive us toward an impulse purchase and leave us with, basically, another copy of a record we already had and a coaster full of b-sides and lame DVD promos that don't merit a second look. That said, there are some deluxe packages out there that really are worth the upgrade. A few I regularly return to in my collection:

The Eternal Idol - Black Sabbath - 1987 (Deluxe Expanded Edition - 2010)
Sabbath's Eternal Idol has long been of interest to collectors due to its history as an album they recorded twice. The official release served as the debut of Tony Martin while the shelved version featured the vocals of Ray Gillen, infamous as the Sabbath vocalist no one ever got to hear, excepting, of course, the leaked copies that followed almost immediately. Sanctuary rectified twenty years of shoddy bootleg trading with a 2010 double-disc re-release of this record with two nice b-sides, "Black Moon" and "Some Kind of Woman," tacked onto the end of the original album and a second disc consisting of the Ray Gillen session. It's a nice one-stop shop for collectors looking to dive further into the Sabbath legacy and compare the two records without sacrificing audio quality to a multi-generational dubious bootleg. 
Eternal Idol 

Slide It In - Whitesnake - 1984 (25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition - 2009)
Much like Eternal Idol, Whitesnake's Slide It In has also existed in two versions, though both were commercially released (and, as of this writing, are still in print and available separately). Following a UK release in January, 1984, the band's US label, Geffen, insisted on a remix to liven up its sound. Guitarist Micky Moody and bassist Colin Hodgkinson had departed the band since the recording of the album and newcomer John Sykes, one of Thin Lizzy's last guitarists, jumped on board along with a returning Neil Murray (who had left the band following Saints & Sinners and missed the original Slide It In sessions) to re-record guitar and bass for a US release in April, 1984. Both versions of the album were chart successes in the UK and the US, with Slide It In serving as Whitesnake's breakout in the States.

Geffen/Universal's 25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of Slide It In features the US remix as the first 10 tracks followed by the 45 b-side, "Need Your Love So Bad," and the the UK mix as tracks 12-19 - all on the first disc. The tack-on of a 20th track, a live "Love Ain't No Stranger" from the already available Starkers in Tokyo, is quizzical. The second disc of the Slide It In deluxe package is a mish-mash of live material related to the release, drawn from random promo videos, TV and concert performances as well as selected tracks from the Starkers in Tokyo video release as well as Live...In the Still of the Night. Not bad, but the same type of chopped-up compilations exist on the Deluxe Anniversary editions of Whitesnake/1987 and Slip of the Tongue. This collector would have been just as happy with single-disc remasters and a couple nice blu-ray reissues of the concert films and promo videos in their entirety. That said, this edition of Slide It In presents two great versions of one great record on a single disc, making it an essential addition to this Whitesnake fan's collection.
 Slide It in (W/Dvd) (Aniv)

Once Sent from the Golden Hall (1998), The Avenger (1999), The Crusher (2001), Versus the World (2002) - Amon Amarth  (Reissues - 2009)
After Viking metallers Amon Amarth broke through big-time with 2008's Twilight of the Thunder God, Metal Blade Records gave their fans an embarassment of riches with deluxe reissues of the band's backcatalogue. Each record features lush digipacks with bonus second discs featuring each album in its entirety live, recorded on different nights in Zeche Borum, Germany in late 2008 (early purchasers of the Versus the World got instead a second disc containing the band's first EP, Sorrow Throughout the Nine Worlds, and two early demos, Thor Arise and The Arrival of the Fimbul Winter). What's nicest is that these editions have become the standard on the shelf for their titles and cost the same as a single disc. Amon Amarth and Metal Blade continue to treat their fans very well as the last two studio releases, Twilight of the Thunder God (2008) and Surtur Rising (2011), both add on full-length concert DVDs, Surtur Rising giving us 33 selections from the Bloodshed over Bochum recordings featured in audio on these other reissues.
Once Sent From Golden HallThe AvengerThe CrusherVersus the World

Pyromania - Def Leppard - 1983 (Deluxe Expanded Edition - 2009)
Pyromania is a stone-cold classic. Very few music fans, regardless of their current feelings regarding Def Leppard, will argue with that. And most hard rock fans probably already have the record in their libraries. Mercury/Universal's 2009 Deluxe Edition makes this an essential re-purchase as it keeps it simple.  We get a gorgeous, no-frills remaster of the original album on the first disc and the second provides a real gold nugget, Live at the L.A. Forum from 1983. This concert was originally broadcast on FM radio and also features a guest spot from Brian May on the final track, "Travelin' Band." This has been heavily bootlegged in the past and between-song banter and a Steve Clark solo have been cut from the original broadcast with a few tracks also edited slightly. That said, it's a gem - and, until we see Mirrorball released, the sole official full-length live recording available from Def Leppard.
Pyromania [Deluxe Edition]

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