Reissue Tuesday

Since the early 1990s, there have been CD reissues, expanded versions of successful and not-so-successful albums.  David Bowie, Elvis Costello, Frank Zappa, U2, Depeche Mode, Joy Division, New Order, The Jam, The Who, The Replacements, Michael Jackson and R.E.M. are among the many, many acts who have re-offered their back catalogue to the public with varying amounts of bonus material.  You can now add Radiohead and Pearl Jam to this always growing list.
Updated editions of four of their studio albums have just been released and personally, I’m eager to own them all.
Let’s start with Pearl Jam.  In mid-February, the band announced plans to re-release their past triumphs over the next few years.  First out of the gate, naturally, is Ten, their blockbuster debut from 1991.
The basic reissue (called the Legacy Edition) is a two-disc set that offers two mixes of the original album plus six extra songs.  (The same material, minus the added tracks, is available in a separate double vinyl release.)  Another version (the Deluxe Edition) offers the same plus a DVD which includes the band’s 1992 MTV Unplugged special plus the rarely seen video for Oceans, the last clip they would make for seven years.  If that’s not enough, you can buy the massive Super Deluxe Edition.  Brace yourself.  Besides the two CDs, the two LPs and one DVD, you get an additional double-vinyl set called Drop In The Park which is nothing but live material from an outdoor Seattle gig in September 1992 plus an audio cassette copy of the original three-song demo ("Momma-Son") that got the band their record deal with Sony.  (Click the above link for all the details.)
A few questions:  Why is the bonus live material in the Super Deluxe Edition not on CD?  And why aren’t the three songs from the demo tape part of the Legacy Edition?  It would be nice to have those songs on disc with the original album.  Finally, why not offer all the B-sides and rarities from that era of the band’s career instead of just six?  (Some are on the Lost Dogs double compilation and not all in their original form, either.)  U2 got it mostly right with their most recent reissues.  The original album remastered on disc one, all the bonus material on disc two.  I’ll reserve judgment on producer Brendan O’Brien’s Ten remix but given a choice between two versions of the same album and one version plus all the extras, not just a smattering, I’ll take the latter any day.  Still, despite its flaws, I want the Legacy Edition.  (I’m a CD guy, thank you.)
Moving on to Radiohead.  Their former label, Parlophone (through parent company, EMI), have just reissued all three albums they released in the 1990s.  First up is Pablo Honey, their 1993 debut.  The basic reissue is a two-CD set.  The original album on disc one and all the B-sides and rarities on disc two.  Among the notable inclusions:  the non-album single, Pop Is Dead; an acoustic version of Creep (which also appeared on the My Iron Lung EP); the remixed single version of Stop Whispering (originally intended for American audiences) and the Drill EP which features early demos.  The Special Collector’s Edition offers the same material plus a DVD of videos and live performances from that period.
The Bends, the band’s crucial second record from 1995, follows the same formula.  Disc two highlights:  all the remaining cuts from the My Iron Lung EP; Talk Show Host and a few BBC Radio One performances.  The DVD in The Special Collector’s Edition offers both versions of the High & Dry video (and all the others from the period) and a whole slew of TV appearances.
Finally, there’s OK Computer from 1997.  Like the other Radiohead reissues, you get complete B-sides and live material appropriate to the era.  However, the DVD in The Special Collector’s Edition only has three videos and three live performances.
Start saving your pennies.
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
4:39 p.m. 
Published in: on March 24, 2009 at 4:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

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