Reissue Roundup: Summer Sets From Allman Brothers, Creedence Clearwater Revival and More
Anniversary sets are the big news of the past few months' archival releases.
The summer of 1969 marked the 50th anniversary of perhaps rock's greatest festival, as well as the golden celebration of the King of Rock 'n' Roll's comeback after a tease the previous year. Plus, some astronauts went to outer space.
Two new Woodstock sets, one including Creedence Clearwater Revival's entire performance, and a pair of 50th-anniversary releases from Elvis Presley, are the highlights of the summer sets found in our Reissue Roundup. But new collections by a pioneer of electronic music, one of the '70s' greatest punk bands, one of the '80s' best post-punk bands and a proto-punk band from the '60s also celebrate anniversaries.
There's also a new live Allman Brothers Band album that serves as a run-up to their career-making concert LP, an expanded reissue that sorta marks the Moon landing's 50th anniversary and seven remastered '70s albums by one of the decade's most forward-thinking groups, complete with bonus tracks.
The Allman Brothers Band, Fillmore West '71
What It Is: Recorded less than two months before and on the other side of the country where the Allmans' career-making At Fillmore East happened, this four-disc set includes many of the same songs found on the classic 1971 LP.
What's on It: The sets performed over a period of three days in late January 1971 featured many of the band's road-tested material, like "Statesboro Blues," "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" and the epic "Whipping Post."
Best Song You Know: The Allmans didn't have much in their live repertoire at the time, so you probably know everything here, though the tapes for these shows have been packed away for decades. "Whipping Post" always kills.
Best Song You Don't Know: Nothing new as far as track listing goes, but these shows are getting their first official release. Quality varies from song to song, but "Trouble No More" from the first night may be the highlight of the entire run.
Glen Campbell, Glen Campbell - The Legacy (1961-2017)
What It Is: This new edition of 2003's out-of-print four-disc box that spans Campbell's debut single from 1961, "Turn Around, Look at Me," through "Adios," the title track to his final album, released two months before his August 2017 death.
What's on It: Even though Campbell, a prolific session guitarist before his solo career took off, played on records by the Beach Boys, Elvis Presley and Phil Spector, the 78 songs on The Legacy were all released under his own name.
Best Song You Know: All of the big hits from the '60s and '70s are here, including "Wichita Lineman," one of several great Jimmy Webb songs Campbell defined, and the No. 1s "Rhinestone Cowboy" and "Southern Nights."
Best Song You Don't Know: "Ghost on the Canvas" is the title track to the 2011 album that was recorded soon after Campbell was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Written by the Replacements' Paul Westerberg, the song strikes a poignant note.
Creedence Clearwater Revival, Live at Woodstock
What It Is: The entirety of Creedence Clearwater Revival's set at the 1969 music festival that defined a generation is finally available. John Fogerty wasn't happy with his band's performance, so it wasn't included in the hit movie or soundtrack album.
What's on It: The 11-song set includes eight cuts from the two albums Creedence had released in 1969 at the time of Woodstock (a third followed less than three months later). Their popular covers of "I Put a Spell on You" and "Suzie Q' are here too.
Best Song You Know: Three songs were included on a 2009 box commemorating the festival's 40th anniversary: "Green River," "Bad Moon Rising" and "I Put a Spell on You," all good.
Best Song You Don't Know: You know everything here, but the searing take of "Born on the Bayou" -- tougher than the studio version -- makes you wonder why Fogerty wanted their set shelved. Their hour-long show ranks as one of Woodstock's best.
Brian Eno, Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks - Extended Edition
What It Is: Back in 1983, Brian Eno recorded music for a documentary about the Apollo Moon missions. By the time the movie, For All Mankind, came out in 1989, both the film and the soundtrack were restructured.
What's on It: This two-disc set includes a remastered version of the 1983 LP plus a CD of new music featuring Roger Eno and Daniel Lanois, the album's original collaborators, playing together for the first time since the initial 1983 sessions.
Best Song You Know: Frankly, Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks always worked better as a soundtrack than as a standalone ambient album. The closing eight-minute piece "Stars," though, is moving on its own.
Best Song You Don't Know: The opening "The End of a Thin Cord" from the 11-track CD of new material makes a fitting introduction to the updated music. Best of all, it serves as a bridge between the decades.
Elvis Presley, American Sound 1969, Elvis Live 1969
What It Is: Two new sets mark the 50th anniversary of Elvis Presley's comeback year -- one studio, one live. A TV special in 1968 heralded a new-and-improved Elvis, who'd spent too many years making forgettable movies and music, but 1969 sealed it.
What's on It: American Sound features nearly 100 tracks recorded at the Memphis studio that yielded "Suspicious Minds" and other late-era classics; Elvis Live includes 11 CDs collecting performances from Las Vegas' International Hotel.
Best Song You Know: The sessions that ended up on various singles and albums at the end of the '60s, including the essential From Elvis in Memphis, rival his pioneering '50s work. The original master recordings are included here.
Best Song You Don't Know: A multi-take exploration of "Suspicious Minds," Presley's last No. 1 hit, is a fascinating look at one of his greatest songs. Without the backing singers, the focus here is on Presley's strong voice and the air-tight band.
Ramones, It's Alive (40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)
What It Is: The Ramones' first live album from 1979 gets expanded to four discs for its 40th anniversary. Three previously unreleased shows from their British tour at the tail end of 1977 round out the box.
What's on It: The original 28-song set, recorded in London on New Year's Eve, makes up the first disc. And it's still the keeper here. The three concerts leading up to it don't vary much, but the turn-of-the-year charge drives the band.
Best Song You Know: "Rockaway Beach" opens all the concerts, and "We're a Happy Family" ends them. In between are favorites "Blitzkrieg Bop,” “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue” and “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker." Take your pick.
Best Song You Don't Know: The version of "Blitzkrieg Bop" on Disc Two's Dec. 28 show from Birmingham's Top Rank sounds a lot like the other three live ones found on the deluxe It's Alive, but there's extra bite to Joey's bark here.
The Replacements, Dead Man's Pop
What It Is: Back in 1988, the Replacements once again tried to expand their audience, this time by enlisting Matt Wallace to co-produce 1989's Don't Tell a Soul. They hated the way it sounded. This four-disc box includes a new mix of the album plus more.
What's on It: The remixed Don't Tell a Soul is a revelation, more stripped-down and looser than the original LP. A disc of outtakes, demos and a session with Tom Waits is a great supplement. There's also two live CDs.
Best Song You Know: The Don't Tell a Soul Redux version of "Talent Show" restores the album's opening track to the band's intentions. It's a fitting intro to a re-evaluation of the Replacements' penultimate record.
Best Song You Don't Know: The six-song set the band recorded with Waits yielded a B-side back in the day, "Date to Church." But the whole thing is a loose, boozy hoot, with Waits' growl complementing Paul Westerberg's punky rasp.
Tangerine Dream, Phaedra, Rubycon, others
What It Is: Seven classic albums recorded between 1973-79 by the German electronic pioneers have been remastered and augmented with bonus tracks: Phaedra, Rubycon, Ricochet, Stratosfear, Encore, Cyclone and Force Majeure.
What's on It: In addition to the stellar new sound from the first-generation master tapes, the albums come with new Steven Wilson stereo mixes, unreleased tracks, single versions and more.
Best Song You Know: Phaedra, from 1974, is their best album; its shortest track, "Sequent C," clocks in at less than two and a half minutes. It's not very representative of the band or LP (the title track runs 17 minutes), but it's a grand summation of both.
Best Song You Don't Know: Rubycon, Tangerine Dream's great second album, from 1975, is made up of two 17-minute pieces. The sole bonus track here is a 15-minute take with an extended introduction that goes deeper.
The Velvet Underground, The Complete Matrix Tapes
What It Is: Originally released on CD in 2015, the Velvet Underground's two-night stint at San Francisco's Matrix club finally comes to vinyl in an eight-record set that includes 43 songs.
What's on It: The band played two shows on Nov. 26 and 27, 1969, spanning songs from the three albums that were out at the time, as well as some new ones from Loaded, which was released the next year and was Lou Reed's last record with them.
Best Song You Know: Some of this material has surfaced on other albums over the years, most notably on the 1974 LP 1969: The Velvet Underground Live. The nearly 11-minute "Ocean" was a highlight there and also here.
Best Song You Don't Know: Unless you own the 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition of 1969's The Velvet Underground, you probably haven't heard the epic 37-minute version of "Sister Ray" included here. You'll need to flip over the vinyl.
Various Artists, Woodstock: Back to the Garden (The 50th Anniversary Experience)
What It Is: Ten CDs feature at least one track by all the artists who performed at the three-day Woodstock festival in 1969. There's also a 38-disc edition (now sold out) that includes almost everything heard that weekend, and a three-CD highlights set.
What's on It: Classic performances by Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Santana, Sly and the Family Stone and the Who -- some that appeared on past albums, some that haven't -- stand out.
Best Song You Know: Breakout sets from Santana and Sly and the Family Stone are highlights of the 1970 movie and soundtrack, and they still sound exhilarating now. So does Hendrix's early-morning "Star Spangled Banner" freak-out.