Rumours of the imminent demise of physical formats have proved premature. The advent of downloading and streaming has, of course, made a difference to how people now listen to music, but, for many, events such as Record Store Day have rebalanced the scales and reminded music lovers that part of the excitement of purchasing a classic album is also investing in the tactile stuff, such as a great sleeve, detailed liner notes and all the extras and rarities that bonus discs can offer. With all that in mind, those who spend their time rifling through racks and digging through crates would do well to discover the best reissues of 2023.
10: Booker T & The MGs: ‘Green Onions’ (2LP, translucent green vinyl)
Is there another instrumental in rock and pop history which carries the clout of Booker T & The MGs’ Green Onions? This snappy, soul-imbued workout (which, remarkably, emerged from a spontaneous studio jam) has been covered by everyone from Count Basie to Deep Purple – and, 60 years on from selling its initial million copies, it remains as fresh as ever.
This seemingly ageless piece of music headed up The MGs’ equally potent debut album, also titled Green Onions, which was issued in October 1962 through Stax Records, the legendary Tennessee label that shaped the sound of Southern soul in the 60s. To celebrate its diamond anniversary, Green Onions returned earlier this year in remastered form and on translucent green vinyl, cooking up a soul stew all over again as one of the best reissues of 2023.
Must hear: Green Onions
9: Twenty One Pilots: ‘Vessel: 10th Anniversary Edition’ (2LP)
Twenty One Pilots’ first album for Fueled By Ramen, Vessel proved to be the Columbus, Ohio, duo’s breakout release. Eventually moving over two million copies, the record contains an inspired mélange of styles, with its signature hits, Holding On To You, Guns For Hands, House Of Gold and Car Radio, adroitly blending elements of hip-hop, electronica and rock into an oddball, yet often highly accessible pop sound. One of best reissues of 2023, Vessel comes back into land as a double vinyl set featuring the original album, four live tracks from a hometown gig, and assorted merch including a series of faux Polaroids.
Must hear: Car Radio
8: Linkin Park: ‘Meteora: 20th Anniversary Edition’ (4LP/3CD box set)
Linkin Park emerged fully formed as one of the best bands of the 2000s. But while the Californian nu-metal icons’ debut album, Hybrid Theory, was a big deal, its follow-up, 2003’s Meteora, was simply gargantuan, moving around 20 million copies and spawning five hit singles, including one of the best Linkin Park songs of all time, Numb. To celebrate its 20th anniversary, this classic album is returning in super-deluxe form, boosted with a host of rarities including the suitably-titled Lost: a long-forgotten gem from the album sessions which features an impassioned vocal from the band’s much-missed frontman, Chester Bennington. A sign of Linkin Park’s continued relevance, Lost immediately became one of the best songs of 2023 following its belated release.
Must Hear: Numb
7: Whitesnake: ‘Still Good To Be Bad’ (4CD + Blu-ray box set)
As its title strongly hints, Still Good To Be Bad is effectively the super-deluxe edition of Whitesnake’s Good To Be Bad album: a UK Top 10 success when it was first released in 2008. The long-awaited follow-up to 1997’s acclaimed Restless Heart, the record went on to win Classic Rock’s Album Of The Year award, and it still impresses today. This generous expanded edition features two new versions of the original album (one remastered and the other newly remixed), plus a CD called Evolutions, which guides listeners through the genesis of each song on the record. To seal its place among the best reissues of 2023, there’s also an additional Blu-ray disc that delivers live tracks from the band’s 2008 European tour, along with acoustic performances from the era and additional interviews.
Must hear: Can You Hear The Wind Blow
6: Eric Clapton: ‘The Complete Reprise Studio Albums: Volume 2’ (10LP box set)
2022’s 12LP The Complete Reprise Studio Albums: Volume 1 effectively boxed up Eric Clapton’s 80s and 90s output, and this equally opulent, 10LP follow-up focuses on Slowhand’s hot streak during the first decade of the 21st century. Accordingly, the box contains newly remastered versions of Reptile (2001), the feted Robert Johnson tribute Me & Mr Johnson and its sister disc, Sessions For Robert J (both 2004), the Grammy Award-winning Back Home (2005) and 2010’s Clapton. All five are essentials but the clincher is arguably the additional disc, Rarities (2001-2010), which gathers together eight hard-to-source recordings from Clapton’s Reprise years. Highlights include the B-side Johnny Guitar and a former Japan-only bonus track, Losing Hand.
Must hear: Me And The Devil Blues
5: The Flaming Lips: ‘Flight Test’, ‘Ego Tripping At The Gates Of Hell’ (coloured vinyl EPs)
Featuring its fair share of the best Flaming Lips songs, the Oklahomans’ groundbreaking, gold-certified Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots album has enjoyed a second season in the sun thanks to its recent 20th-anniversary edition. And it’s a gift that keeps on giving, courtesy of the reissue of the album’s two highly-prized spin-off EPs, Flight Test and Ego Tripping At The Gates Of Hell.
Headed up by its heartfelt title track, the Flight Test EP was included in last year’s 6CD box set reissue of Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, but it made its vinyl debut this year, on ruby-red wax. Ingenious covers of Kylie Minogue’s Can’t Get You Out Of My Head and Radiohead’s Knives Out ensure it’s a firm fan favourite, as is the immortally-titled Ego Tripping At The Gates of Hell: a generous curio now on glow-in-the-dark green vinyl which includes two versions of the title cut, plus The Postal Services’ remix of the Yoshimi… classic Do You Realize?? and a further four non-album cuts.
Must hear: Flight Test
4: Green Day: ‘Nimrod: 25th Anniversary Edition’ (5LP/3CD box set)
Though it was a multi-platinum success at the time of its release, Green Day’s fifth album, Nimrod, didn’t have the same impact as the Californian punks’ all-conquering Dookie or its immediate successor, Insomniac. That’s a shame, for Nimrod is at least the equal of those records and it’s certainly the most adventurous of the three. There was still plenty of the trio’s patented pop-punk ramalama on display, but as tracks as disparate as the shimmering psych-tinged Redundant, the hazy surf-pop of Last Ride In and the mutant rockabilly of Hitchin’ A Ride all proved, Billie Joe Armstrong and co were keen to stretch sonically.
With hindsight, the group were right to stick their necks out, for it was Nimrod’s least Green Day-sounding track – the plaintive, acoustic Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life) – which rewarded them with a surprise, multi-platinum US hit that was immediately embraced as one of the very best Green Day songs of all time. Kerrang! magazine referred to Nimrod as “a multi-faceted spreading of wings”, and the album’s tasty smorgasbord can again be enjoyed in multiple formats, all of which include stacks of rarities and an electrifying live set from a Philadelphia gig in November 1997.
Must hear: Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)
3: The Velvet Underground: ‘Loaded: Fully Re-Loaded’ (9LP + 4 x 7” box set)
The Velvet Underground’s last proper studio album, Loaded, never had the hip cachet of their seminal earlier releases such as The Velvet Underground & Nico and the abrasive yet influential White Light/White Heat. It’s easy to understand why – John Cale was long gone; drummer Moe Tucker was pregnant, so didn’t play on the record; and a disgruntled Lou Reed left before it was released, complaining that the tracks were edited behind his back.
Despite all that, Loaded is no slouch. Though deliberately ambiguous, the album’s title related primarily to the band’s hope that it would be “loaded with hits”, and it contained plenty of shoulda-been contenders, with Who Loves The Sun, Sweet Jane, Rock And Roll, New Age and Head Held High all standing shoulder to shoulder with the best of the Velvets’ esteemed catalogue. The album’s time finally came when it received an extensive CD reissue in 2015, and it now gets the same deluxe vinyl treatment in a seriously cool 9LP box set featuring mono and stereo mixes of the record, plus a galaxy of rarities – all of which makes it a shoo-in among the best reissues of 2023.
Must hear: Sweet Jane
2: New Order: ‘Low-Life: Definitive Edition’ (LP + 2CD + 2DVD + book box set)
New Order stepped out of Joy Division’s shadow on their excellent second album, Power, Corruption & Lies, but they really hit their stride on 1985’s Low-Life, hands-down one of the best New Order albums and the record on which they seamlessly integrated electronica into their angular rock sound and emerged with a confident, bold work which went Top 10 in the UK and introduced the band to the US mainstream for the first time.
One of best reissues of 2023, Low-Life: Definitive Edition revisits evergreen classics among the best New Order songs, ranging from the narrative-style pop classic Love Vigilantes to the searing, guitar-based rocker Sunrise and the atmospheric, Ennio Morricone-inspired Elegia. In the spirit of the band’s Movement and Power, Corruption & Lies reissues, Low-Life returns in a beautiful box set, with the original album joined by a host of rarities, a beautiful coffee-table book featuring new interviews and rare photographs, plus two DVDs’ worth of TV and in-concert footage, including a full-length live show filmed on home turf at The Haçienda for the BBC’s Old Grey Whistle Test.
Must hear: Sunrise
1: Pink Floyd: ‘The Dark Side Of The Moon: 50th Anniversary Box Set’ (2CD + 2LP + 2 x Blu-ray + DVD + 2 x 7”s + 2 x books)
Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side Of The Moon has been such a monolithic presence on the rock landscape that it often feel as though there was never a time before its existence. In real terms, one of the best 70s albums is actually turning 50 this year, but its main themes (madness, consumerism, loneliness and death) remain so universally relevant that songs such as Time, Money, Any Colour You Like and Brain Damage could easily have been written this week. The Dark Side Of The Moon’s re-emergence has already inspired numerous spin-off events, among them playbacks in planetariums around the world, and its weighty 50th-anniversary reissue, featuring the remastered album, an array of mixes, an additional Live At Wembley concert, replica 7” singles and a lavish, Hipgnosis-endorsed book, easily enters orbit alongside the best reissues of 2023.
Must hear: Money
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