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Forthcoming archival classic rock releases

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Never-before-heard music from pivotal moments in the respective careers of Bob Dylan, The Band, Frank Zappa, Neil Young, and The Who, will be the drawing card for a number of forthcoming archival classic rock box sets. Designed for the super-fan looking for a deeper dive, these sets can be pricey, but they’re usually manufactured in limited quantities, which could turn some into sought-after collectibles on the secondary market when they’re gone.

The Band – Stage Fright (50th Anniversary Edition) (Capitol/UMe; Feb. 12)

The Band’s third album, originally released in the summer of 1970, will be out this week in a variety of formats, all overseen by Robbie Robertson, and each offering a new stereo mix. The five-disc super deluxe version will include a Blu-ray disc containing a new 5.1 surround mix, along with a high-resolution version of the new stereo mix, both by Bob Clearmountain. Two CDs will offer the album in its originally intended sequence, while adding a series of fly-on-the-wall recordings captured in a Calgary hotel room during the historic summer ’70 ‘Festival Express’ Canadian-rail tour, and an unreleased 20-song set recorded in 1971 at London’s Royal Albert Hall. The set includes a 180-gram LP and a seven-inch single.

Frank Zappa – Zappa (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (Frank Zappa Catalog; UMe; Feb. 19)

I was blown away by Alex Winter’s intimate and revealing “Zappa” documentary (see my interview with Ahmet Zappa in the December 16 issue). The three-CD soundtrack out next week (a five-LP version is set for May 7) will offer 12 previously unreleased recordings from the Zappa vault, including cuts from the Mothers of Invention at the Whiskey A Go Go in 1968, and the Fillmore West in 1970. Also included: unissued cuts from Saturday Night Live (“Dancin’ Fool” from a 1978 show that resulted in a ban when he famously mocked SNL as it was happening), “Mo’s Vacation” from Munich ‘78, and a stunning version of “Apostrophe’” from 1974.

Bob Dylan – 1970 (Columbia Legacy; Feb. 26)

Dylan’s 16th installment of his ‘Bootleg Series’ continues with this set culled from the sessions that gave us “Self Portrait” and “New Morning.” Its release was originally designed as a way to extend the copyright on the material within when made available in extremely limited quantities last fall in Europe. When that version sold out in a matter of seconds (literally), fans bombarded Columbia with demands for a more widespread release. This three-disc set contains 74 cuts recorded in March, May and June of 1970, and represents Bob’s last unreleased material from that year, including a legendary nine-song session with George Harrison.

Neil Young with Crazy Horse – Way Down in the Rust Bucket (Reprise; Feb. 26)

This warm-up show for Neil and Crazy Horse’s now legendary Ragged Glory tour of 1991 (not sure my ears ever fully recovered from the staggering performance they gave at the old Cumberland County Civic Center on February 10) is officially slated as volume 11.5 in the performance series of Neil Young Archives. An inspired performance recorded in an intimate room, this show features most of “Ragged Glory,” along with classics like “Cinnamon Girl” and deep cuts like “Roll Another Number” and “T Bone.” The box set includes four LPs, two CDs and a DVD of the show. Each of those formats will be available individually, with the DVD expected later this year. On March 5, Neil will give his 10-CD “Archives Vol. II” box a more widespread release to satisfy fans crushed last year when a limited-edition version sold out in minutes.

The Who – The Who Sell Out (Super Deluxe) (MCA; April 23)

News of this release leaked prematurely last month. This five-CD version of The Who’s classic 1967 power pop album, first expanded in 1995 and later in a two-CD deluxe version in 2009, promises to be the last word on the band’s pop-art period. Originally designed as a tribute to Britain’s pirate radio stations of the 1960s, “The Who Sell Out” represented a new peak for the band. They recorded a series of funny commercials, and public service announcements, and added some actual radio jingles to insert between the songs, which ran the gamut from psychedelia to novelty. This edition promises the album’s original mono mix, the original stereo mix, outtakes, unreleased mixes, early takes from the sessions, 14 of Pete Townshend’s original demos, and a roundup of material recorded in 1968 that serves as the missing link between this album and “Tommy.” Also included are two seven-inch singles, and a book with essays, liner notes and photos.

(Note: This date was just changed. The initial release was scheduled for March 26; we have updated the story accordingly.)

Last modified on Wednesday, 10 February 2021 08:01

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