By Chris Gavin
Year after year, the best albums get reissued with a new mastering or added bonuses and features. These editions often enrich the sound of each with fuller bass and boosted vocals, among other variations. Reissued material is also an honor in itself for the artist, highlighting what is worthy to be revisited and what has continued to stay in ears and hearts of the masses. This year saw some much needed releases by musicians such as Bruce Springsteen and Led Zeppelin, but also some surprises by Bob Dylan and The Band and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, with the added extra of a revamped Beatles collection. Here are some of the Top Five of 2014, which you may—or may not—hear on a classic rock station near you.
- Bruce Springsteen: The Album Collection Vol. 1 1973-1984, Bruce Springsteen— For years, Springsteen fans have long awaited remastered editions of The Boss’s most iconic albums. Although Born To Run and Darkness On The Edge Of Town received such treatment, others in Springsteen’s catalog, such as the popular Born In The USA and The River, had remained untouched. This set breathes new life to his first seven albums. Springsteen’s work was transferred to CDs in the early 1980s when that technology came out, but the levels were kept the same as the records back then. In most cases, old-school mastering left the bass low so the needle on the turntable didn’t skip. But in 2014, Springsteen’s music can once again reach depths that replicate the intensity of his lyrics and characters.
- The Bootleg Series Vol. 11: The Basement Tapes Complete, Bob Dylan and The Band— The Basement Tapes, recordings made by Dylan and The Band in 1967 and 1968 in a house in upstate New York, have long been the bootleg of all bootlegs. Columbia Records gave into fans desires in 1975 with an authorized album after unofficial releases made their way into record shops. But the compilation was not complete until this year when additional, unreleased tapes were remastered and put into this collection. The box set includes Tapes favorites like “Million Dollar Bash” and also new gems, such as an alternative take on the Dylan classic “Blowin’ In the Wind.” Volume 11 in The Bootleg Series gives fans further insight into a mysterious but important time in Dylan history.
- CSNY 1974, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young— The hardships of David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and Neil Young are well known in the music community ranging from battles over egos to creative differences. But in the summer of 1974, the foursome reunited for a tour with 30 American shows and one in England, some totaling for four hours or more in length. Nine of the performances were professionally recorded, and the best were remastered for the collection. Among them are group staples like “Love The One You’re With,” “Ohio,” and “Helpless,” as well as The Beatles classic “Blackbird.” According to Rolling Stone, Graham Nash and producer Joel Bernstein said they wanted the set to be structured like one of the shows would be, despite the fact tracks were taken from many different shows. This group of songs provides fans with live renditions of CSNY’s best-known material along with a soundtrack to a very unique string of shows for the group.
- The Beatles In Mono, The Beatles—Although The Beatles have released mono recordings in the past, this new exclusively vinyl release is different. The collection includes the group’s first nine U.K. albums—Please, Please Me through The Beatles (White Album). Mastering for the project followed techniques from the 1960s and even the original engineer’s notes, according to Rolling Stone. No digital technology was used, creating a fantastic and rich sound out of a labor of love, and critics praised the rerelease of the White Album for the exposure of new elements in the music. This was the way The Beatles should be heard.
- Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II, and Led Zeppelin III, Led Zeppelin— The English heavy-rock band rereleased its legendary first three albums under the direction of guitarist, songwriter, and producer, Jimmy Page. Even though the three records are not in a collection together, each contains unheard and familiar but different takes on classic tracks. Page told Rolling Stone the bonus material shows how the albums came to be through the raw mixes and rough cuts included in each record. Two compilations of remastered material were released in the 1990s, but this time, each album received the full treatment they rightfully deserve instead of being lumped together into one of the two box sets.