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Remastered, reissued, reimagined

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The music industry is cranking out archival releases in shelf-busting numbers during the fourth quarter of 2011. There seems to be a sense of 'now or never' for some of this material, as labels continue to tighten their belts while spiffing up old tapes and raiding the vaults for previously unreleased recordings.

These releases are largely designed for the music consumer who prefers a 'tangible' product: boxes, booklets, shiny discs, vinyl, posters, notes and trinkets that some might call excessive ephemera. The idea is to take a previously released title that sold well, improve it with (hopefully) superior mastering, add some relevant previously unheard material with new notes and put it out as the 'ultimate' version.

I've scouted the shelves at Bull Moose in Bangor and online at Amazon for a reissue roundup to let you know what's inside and (approximately) how much you can expect to pay.

The Beach Boys - 'SMiLE Sessions' - The word 'genius' is frequently bandied about in association with the name Brian Wilson, and that is largely because of the music of SMiLE. Forty-four years after Brian abandoned SMiLE in a haze of paranoia and fear, it has been officially released in a huge way. Just as Pet Sounds (1966) had been a huge departure from what fans expected from The Beach Boys, SMiLE took another quantum leap from the sandbox. Despite the knowledge that he was in the midst of crafting his masterpiece, Brian allowed some (*cough* Mike Love*cough*) to shake his confidence, which led him to believe that the world wasn't ready for SMiLE. The drugs didn't help. When Paul McCartney visited Brian in April, 1967 and shared 'A Day In The Life' six weeks before the rest of the world heard it, Wilson was convinced he had been beaten at his own game. Just eight months earlier, Brian had created 'Good Vibrations.' Now, in the midst of a nervous breakdown, he gave up and went to bed for years. The SMiLE Sessions box set (a 3D specimen of beauty) contains 5 CDs, 2 vinyl LPs and 2 7' 45s along with a detailed book and a poster of the pop-art cover by artist Frank Holmes. Note for vinyl fans, side 4 of the LP version contains material not included on any of the CDs. For those who prefer a more concise SMiLE experience, a 2-disc version is available and the vinyl is available separately. Look, listen, vibrate, SMiLE.

Box set price at the time of writing: Bull Moose - $126.97 Amazon - $136.37

Pink Floyd - The Discovery studio album box set - For the third time in less than 20 years, Pink Floyd's complete output sees a sonic overhaul. Each of the band's 14 albums has been remastered from the original tapes by longtime Pink Floyd recording engineer James Guthrie with revelatory results. Each title is available separately or as part of this box that includes a 60 page booklet designed by legendary Floydian graphic designer Storm Thorgerson.

Price: Expect to pay about $180. Money; it's a gas.

Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon (Immersion Box) - How much is too much? If you are a fan who craves the total 'Dark Side of the Moon' experience, Pink Floyd is only too happy to sell it to you.

This limited edition box contains eight discs: the regular album proper (2011 remaster), a previously unreleased complete 1974 performance of the album recorded live at Wembley in London, a 5.1 surround sound mix (previously issued in 2003, this is my preferred version of the album - mind blowing) Alan Parsons's original 1973 Quad mix previously available only on vinyl and 8-track tapes in 1973, 1972 live performances from Brighton, a documentary on the making of the record, a high resolution Blu-Ray disc of the music and visuals and early mixes and rejected experiments. 

A simultaneously thrilling and exhausting experience, this box will set you back about $108. Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash. 

Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here (Immersion Box) - Similar in design to the new 'Dark Side of the Moon' box set, this collection is designed for fans of the follow-up album who want it all. This five-disc box contains the new remaster, a disc of unreleased live and studio recordings related to 'Wish You Were Here,' a DVD audio disc containing a new 5.1 surround mix and the original 1975 Quad mix. A DVD of screen films used by Pink Floyd during live performances at the time, a Hi-Res Blu-Ray disc, two books, an art print, collector's cards, a scarf, marbles, coasters and replica tickets and backstage passes.

Expect to pay about $120. Released on Nov. 8, 2011. Wish You Were Here? More like wish you weren't broke. Shine on you crazy diamond.

Next week, I'll have details on new archival releases from The Who, U2, The Smiths, Nirvana, Elvis Presley, Rush, Jethro Tull, Smashing Pumpkins, Frank Zappa and Phil Spector. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to write a snappy and descriptive ad for Craig's List. 'For sale, one shiny, slightly used kidney. Has been exposed to lots of rock and roll but is in surprisingly good condition. Serious inquiries only. It's reissue time.'

Mike Dow can be heard each morning as part of The Mike and Mike Show' on Kiss 94.5. Check him out at www.Facebook.com/MikeandMike and www.MikeDow.net.

Last modified on Thursday, 05 January 2012 11:45

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