The Year That Was: Best Reissues of 2019

Like so many other aspects of the music business, the reissue industry appeared to be somewhat in flux during 2019. Apart from Greatest Hits albums, which have largely disappeared thanks to the rise of streaming playlists, variations of all the usual reissue suspects remain: handsome, expensive box sets, super deluxe editions of classic records, anniversary editions of beloved albums, vinyl revivals and various artists collections spotlighting certain eras, labels or scenes. There just seemed to be just a little fewer titles than in year's past. 

Some of that feeling is due to how some of the major labels aren't digging deep into their vaults, preferring to concentrate on superstars. Some of these releases paid back great dividends: the Bob Dylan Bootleg Series continues to surprise, it remains a delight that the Beatles are finally offering expanded editions of their albums, and it's a wonder that there still is terrific Elvis Presley material being unearthed in 2019. It's also true that it's likely that only a major could fund my pick for favorite/best reissue of the year, the extraordinary set Woodstock: Back To The Garden, which is a triumph of archival work and historic preservation.

In either its extensive (and limited) The Definitive 50th Anniversary Archive edition--which contains virtually the entire festival over the course of 38 CDs--or in its slimmed-down, affordable 50th Anniversary Experience edition, Woodstock: Back To The Garden reveals that commonly-held perceptions about the festival were wrong. Bands who were cut out of the 1970 Michael Wadleigh documentary are restored and often sound much better than their reputation; listen to the Creedence Clearwater Revival set, released separately by Craft, or the Band concert added as a bonus to the 50th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition of The Band for proof. 

To me, this is what an archival release should do: it should offer a sense of discovery and surprise, challenging or offering new dimensions to an existing catalog or perhaps expanding it as well. Needless to say, it's also good if they're fun to hear, as well. Most of the following 2019 reissues hit these marks and I recommend seeking them out.

(Editor's Note: I'm well aware that a list of 100 reissues kind of undercuts my central thesis that there were fewer reissues this year, but I still stand by that assessment. There is definitely a slowing of physical reissues across the board.)

  1. Woodstock: Back To The Garden [Archive Editon]

  2. The Bakersfield Sound

  3. Jobcentre Rejects: Ultra Rare New Wave Of British Heavy Metal 1978-1982

  4. Nat King Cole—Hittin' The Ramp: The Early Years (1936-1943)

  5. Ronnie Lane—Just for a Moment: Music 1973-1997

  6. Stereolab Deluxe Edition Reissue Series: Transient Random-Noise Bursts With Announcements, Mars Audiac Quintet, Emperor Tomato Ketchup, Dots and Loops, Cobra and Phases Group Play Voltage In The Milky Night, Sound-Dust, Margerine Eclipse

  7. Jon Savage's 1969-1971: Rock Dreams On 45

  8. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood [Original Soundtrack]

  9. Bob Dylan—Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings

  10. Prince—1999 [Super Deluxe Edition]

  11. Three Day Week: When The Lights Went out 1972-1975

  12. Roger C. Reale & Rue Morgue—The Collection

  13. The Daisy Age

  14. The Replacements—Dead Man’s Pop

  15. Cadillac Baby’s Bea & Baby Records

  16. All the Young Droogs: 60 Juvenile Delinquent Wrecks

  17. Peter Laughner—Peter Laughner

  18. Bob Dylan—Travelin' Thru, 1967-1969: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 15

  19. Elvis Presley—Live 1969

  20. World Spirituality Classics 2: The Time For Peace Is Now

  21. The Beatles—Abbey Road [50th Anniversary]

  22. Mike McGear—McGear [deluxe]

  23. Gong—Love from the Planet Gong

  24. John Coltrane—Blue World

  25. James Brown—Live at Home With His Bad Self

  26. Neil Young & Stray Gators—Tuscaloosa

  27. Chick Corea—Now He Sings, Now He Sobs

  28. Prince—Originals

  29. Harry Nilsson—Losst and Founnd

  30. Across The Great Divide: Getting It Together In The Country 1968-1974

  31. Tangerine Dream—In Search of Hades: The Virgin Recordings 1973-1979

  32. Bill Evans—Evans in England

  33. Land of 1000 Dances: The Rampart Records 58th Anniversary Complete Singles Collection 

  34. Jimi Hendrix—Songs for Groovy Children

  35. Ann Arbor Blues Festival 1969, Vols. 1 & 2

  36. Eric Dolphy—Musical Prophet: The Expanded 1963 New York Studio Sessions

  37. Wes Montgomery—Back on Indiana Avenue

  38. David Bowie—Conversation Piece

  39. R.E.M.—Monster [25thAnniversary Edition]

  40. New Moon’s In The Sky: The British Progressive Pop Sounds of 1970

  41. Music from Jarvis Cocker's Sunday Service

  42. Holding Things Together: The Merle Haggard Songbook

  43. Grateful Dead—Ready Or Not

  44. If You’re Not Part Of The Solution: Soul, Politics and Spirituality in Jazz 1967-1975

  45. Reggie Young: Session Guitar Super Star

  46. The Kinks—Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) [50th Anniversary]

  47. The Pop Genius of Mickie Most

  48. Grateful Dead—Saint of Circumstance

  49. Super Furry Animals—Guerilla [20thAnniversary]

  50. Mick Ronson—Only After Dark: The Complete Mainman Recordings

  51. Pink Floyd—The Later Years

  52. Marvin Gaye—You’re the Man

  53. Paul McCartney—Amoeba Gig

  54. Gene Clark—No Other [Super Deluxe]

  55. The Band—The Band [50th Anniversary]

  56. American Tunes: Songs By Paul Simon

  57. Dukes of Stratosphear—Psurroundabout Ride

  58. The White Stripes—The White Stripes XX

  59. Alex Chilton—From Memphis to New Orleans/Songs from Robin Hood Lane

  60. Curtis Mayfield—Keep On Keeping On: Studio Albums 1970-1974

  61. Soul Explosion

  62. Mercury Rev—All Is Dream [Deluxe Edition]

  63. Miles Davis—Rubberband

  64. Waiting: The Van Duren Story

  65. Steve Miller Band—Welcome to the Vault

  66. Booker T. & The MG's—The Complete Stax Singles, Vol. 1 (1962-1967)

  67. Pacific Northwest Fuzzbox/Pacific Northwest Stashbox

  68. Atlanta Rhythm Section—The Polydor Years

  69. Patrice Rushen—Remind Me: The Classic Elektra Recordings 1978-1984

  70. Johnny Mathis—I Love My Lady

  71. Jobcentre Rejects: Ultra Rare New Wave Of British Heavy Metal 1980-1985

  72. Come On Let's Go! Powerpop Gems from the 70's and 80’s

  73. Mighty Baby—At A Point Between Fate And Destiny: The Complete Recordings

  74. Creedence Clearwater Revival—Live At Woodstock

  75. Big Star—Live on WLIR

  76. The Electric Banana—The Complete De Wolfe Sessions

  77. Country Music—A Film By Ken Burns: The Soundtrack

  78. Hootie & The Blowfish—Cracked Rear View [25thAnniversary]

  79. Linda Ronstadt—Live in Hollywood

  80. Ray Charles—Modern Sounds In Country & Western. Music, Vol.s 1 & 2

  81. Glen Campbell—Legacy 1961-2017

  82. James Taylor—The Warner Bros. Albums: 1970-1976

  83. Van Morrison—The Healing Game

  84. Gordon Lightfoot—Complete Singles 1970-1980

  85. Jazz Fest: The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

  86. John Coltrane—Coltrane '58: The Prestige Recordings

  87. Miles Davis—The Legendary Prestige Quintet Sessions

  88. Traffic — The Studio Albums

  89. Miles Davis—The Complete Birth Of The Cool

  90. America—Classic Album Collection

  91. Horn Rock

  92. The Beatles—Singles Collection

  93. Gerry Rafferty—Who Knows What The Day Will Bring? The Complete Transatlantic Recordings

  94. Poppies: Assorted Finery from the First Psychedelic Age

  95. Buck Owens & The Buckaroos—The Complete Capitol Singles: 1971-1975

  96. Janie Fricke—It Ain’t Easy: The Complete Hits

  97. The Ramones—It's Alive [40thAnniversary Deluxe Edition]

  98. The Doors—Soft Parade [50thAnniversary Edition]

  99. Keith Richards—Talk Is Cheap [Deluxe Edition]

  100. The Prime Movers—The Prime Movers Blues Band

Editor's Note: I feel like I can't rank The Prime Movers album because two of my uncles were in the band alongside a young Iggy Pop. I did want to note that a Prime Movers record has finally hit the market after a decades-long wait, since I think that's pretty cool. (I may write about this release in detail for my newsletter later.