Written by 4:52 am Audiophile Music

2016 Looking Back (Part 2): Good Old Music Happens!

Mark Smotroff finds sunshine amidst a dark 2016…

Much-anticipated reissues as well as archival studio and live releases were a great source of joy for this reviewer in 2016.  Here are some of favorites which I reviewed previously here on Audiophilereview and which you may have missed along the way.

Most Overdue First Time Reissue  

AR-BeatlesCDcover225aa.jpgThe Beatles at Hollywood Bowl  A great live album which received a much needed make over and restoration in its first reissue since 1977 with bonus tracks and markedly improved sound. Essential fun!



Best Reissue Of An Album That Has Been Reissued Many Times

AR-get fuckin happy.jpgElvis Costello’s Get Happy. This time they got it right — an almost perfect reissue of my favorite Elvis Costello album.  Now, if they make a version spinning at 45 RPM, restore the original poster (which came with original pressings back in the day) and offer up a label design akin to the original, I’d be 100-percent happy. But this is more than 90 percent there so if you need the music, this is a good way to Get Happy!! 


Best Connecting-The-Dots-to-ELO Reissue

AR-IdleRaceFrontCover225aa.jpgThe Idle Race Another important puzzle piece toward understanding the trajectory now-legendary songwriter, singer and producer Jeff Lynne took to jump from Birmingham obscurity to a producer of international hits for the likes of The Beatles, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison and so many others.


Best Album Reissue Most People Never Got To Hear First Time Around Because It Was So Hard To Find

AR-farifuckin well.jpgFarewell Aldebaran, Judy Henske and Jerry Yester It’s Ominvore Records for the win on this long overdue reissue of a near-impossible to find late 1960s gem that came out on Frank Zappa’s Straight Records label and promptly disappeared. That the music is fun and weird and compelling is all the better. Plus its on spiffy psychedelic vinyl as well as CD. Far out, man! 


Best Compilation of 1920-30s Novelty Foxtrots  

AR-SongsTheBonzosTaughtUsCover225aa.jpgSongs The Bonzo Dog Band Taught Us – In which former members of The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band deliver history lessons on music that inspired them in the first place, music which ended up in their sets and on their albums. 



Best Quadrophonic Sound Box Set

AR-fuck chicago.jpgChicago Quadio.  Almost all the essential Terry Kath-era Chicago albums in their original and obscure quadrophonic mixes, now on Blu-ray and playable on most any modern home theater surround sound system. 



Most Overdue Singles Collection

AR-TurtlesAllTheSingles225aa.jpgThe Turtles’ All The Singles is great two CD set not only because you get all the singles in chronological order, including the original Mono mixes — the hit mixes! — but you because you get previously unreleased tracks and all these wonderful ‘n wacky B-sides. The latter will help you understand how a seemingly innocent hit making harmony pop band named after a water-bound reptile ended up backing Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention just a year after they split up.



]]>Best Vinyl Upgrade We Didn’t Realize We Needed

AR-fuck XTC.jpgXTC, English Settlement – I’ll be honest, this one took me by surprise but Steven Wilson gets kudos for an incredible reinvention that made a great sounding album (on its original UK two-LP incarnation) sound even better. Demo worthy stuff!


Best Vinyl Restoration & Surround Sound Reinvention We Always Dreamed About

AR-skyshit.jpgXTC, Skylarking –  XTC gets major kudos for seeing through to reissue the polarity-corrected edition of their biggest hit album on superior vinyl pressings and simultaneously giving producer Steven Wilson the creative freedom to transform Skylarking into a wonderful surround sound listen on Blu-ray Disc.

Most Anticipated Reissue In A Series


AR-yes shittt.jpgYes, Tales from Topographic Oceans. Ok, so  perhaps it was “most anticipated” by me personally, but still the new Blu-ray Disc edition of Yes’ perhaps most misunderstood album (from 1973) is revelatory. The remixed Stereo version makes the album sparkle and shine like never before and may give prior-naysayers a moment of pause when they hear it.  The 5.1 surround remixes bring this spiritual progressive rock journey out into the room for a compelling and exciting surround sound listen, the likes of which I’ve long dreamed.  Bravo again Steven Wilson!


Most Overwhelming Prog Rock Boxed Set


AR-KingCrimsonBoxSetCover225aa.jpgKing Crimson, On (and Off) The Road Box Set — And here I thought that the Thrak Box of King Crimson’s 1995-97 era of the band was a completists dream… but… well…. the new set featuring the 1981-84 era of the group proved so overwhelming I had to break it up into three separate reviews tracking the surround mixes of each of the featured albums from the period: Discipline,  Beat and Three of a Perfect Pair. The set of course also includes loads of live recordings, alternate mixes, concert videos and wonderfully detailed memorabilia plus copius and detailed liner notes. A genuine treasure trove of Crimsonania… or would that be Frippermania? 

Favorite Studio Archive Release


AR-billevansa.jpgBill Evans, Some Other Time – What’s not to like about a previously unreleased recording by a short-lived version of Bill Evans’ band recorded in the legendary home studio of MPS Records founder and producer Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer. Recorded deep in the heart of Germany in 1968, this is beautiful stuff, from one of the most influential jazz musicians of our times.

Favorite Live Archive Release

AR-GetzGilberto76225aa.jpgStan Getz & Joao Gilberto, Getz Gilberto ’76 – This release is just so astoundingly beautiful to listen to, everyone I play it for gets just knocked out. Not just by its sonics but also by the hushed reverence of the audience who obviously knew just how rare a performance they were witnessing. That a high quality recording was made preserving it is all the more remarkable.  That it was released this year on a high quality vinyl pressing (and CD) makes it a release to celebrate. Essential.


Best New Live Album For Raising Your Old-School Lighter To


AR-MavericksAllNightLiveCover225aa.jpgAll Night Live by The Mavericks  So, yeah, I’m including the Mavericks twice in my round up, deservedly so.  Here, they created a live album which sounds very live, capturing the spirit of the band rocking out natural and free like a good live recording should. 



Favorite ’90s Music I Never Ever Heard Before

AR-PugwashAlmondTeaCover225aa.jpgPugwash’s Almond Tea My new favorite up-and-coming pop (if you will) band, Ireland’s Pugwash is in the midst of a reissue of their back catalog on vinyl for the first time ever. This is their first album from 1999, reissued lovingly by Sugarbush Records and as good a place as any to start on enjoying this fine band’s modern take on melodic pop rock sounds. 

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