Best Reissues of 2015

2015 was packed full of excellent reissues, from well known box-sets to obscure one-off's, here's the best of the bunch.

There were a multitude of excellent reissues in 2015, and the year will go down as maybe the best year for reissues in recent memory. More popular bands who had reissues this year, like The Rolling Stones, Broadcast, and A Tribe Called Quest, were omitted from the list in favor of more obscure records that many people wouldn’t hear about otherwise. The quality and variety showcased this year was immense, so let’s dig in to some of the best, and let us know if there’s anything we missed that you think should be included. Without further ado, here are the best reissues of 2015.

CSEYSyBVEAA98JNGigi Masin – Wind
Gigi Masin’s 1986 record has proven elusive to collector’s for decades. Never actually released to a wide audience, but rather given away at small concerts, the small number of extra copies that did exist were destroyed when Masin’s Venice studio flooded. Finally this year, the long sought after record from the Italian ambient master saw a remastered reissue on the Masin’s own “The Bear on the Moon” record label, and it’s one of the most beautifully textured and dynamic projects of it’s time, or any time for that matter. It’s hard to believe something this forward looking could have been released in 1986, but after Amsterdam’s “Music From Memory” label reissued a retrospective compilation of Masin’s work last year, entitled Talk To The Sea, the electronic musician has come back into the limelight and his work can now be fully appreciated. On top of that, The Wind Collector / As Witness Our Hands compilation was recently reissued too, so check those out as well if you enjoy Wind. (Listen / Buy)

31QuH6ZRNSLNuna Canavarro – Plux Quba
Originally reissued, strangely enough, by Jim O’Rourke on his Moikai label in 1998, Plux Quba now comes to us by way of the Chicago based “Drag City” label, and the experimental record by mysterious Portuguese musician Nuna Canvarro is a wondrous journey of a listen. The tale of it’s discovery is almost as magical as the album, composed of 15 songs, many of which run under the 2 minute mark, Plux Quba sees Canavarro experimenting with electronic music in a way that was years ahead of his time. Though mostly known for composing music for Portuguese films and for being almost unknown in public, Plux Quba sounds like dreams and memories on wax. (Listen / Buy)

1400x1400srMariah – Utakata No Hibi
One of the most delightful reissues of the year comes to us from the “Palto Flats” label, and we should be thankful that Japanese band Mariah’s classic record is finally available for wider audiences. Utakata No Hibi is an anomaly of a record, hailing from Japan but sung in half Japanese and half Armenian, this record dabbles in Synth Pop/New Wave/Electronic/Jazz music with a deft hand that few musicians can rival. The fact that it was released in 1983 makes it all the more impressive. The Middle Eastern and East Asian instrumentation create a basis for refreshing tracks like “Hana Ga Saitara” and the excellent “Shinza No Tobira”. If you like bands like The Radio Dept. or Yellow Magic Orchestra, this will be right up your alley. (Listen / Buy)


Frankie Knuckles – House Masters
One of the more aptly titled reissues of the year, Frankie Knuckles was both the pioneer and master of house music. Though Knuckles unfortunately passed away last year, it gave many a chance to stop and appreciate the work of a prolific DJ and producer, and this compilation is an ambitious look at his influential career. There’s multiple versions and formats of the reissue, so be sure to get and listen to a complete version to get the real experience of all of Knuckles’ production work. Classics like “Sounds Of Blackness ‘The Pressure’ (Frankie Knuckles Classic Mix)” and “Lisa Stansfield ‘Change’ (Knuckles Mix)” are sequenced next to deep cuts and lesser known works, and the music is lovingly showcased, serving as a beautiful retrospective on the career of a giant. (Listen / Buy)

rervng07-savantSavant – Artificial Dance
Electronic music pioneer Kerry Leimer’s work as Savant has aged incredibly well, and Brooklyn based label RVNG Intl. wants everyone to know. After last years A Period Of Review (Original Recordings: 1975 – 1983), RVNG Intl. has doubled down and released Artifical Dance, a complete look at Leimer’s work under his alias Savant. Compiling his standalone album, 1983’s The Neo Realist (At Risk), with the Stationary Dance / Sensible Music 12″ and a handful of unreleased tracks, Artifical Dance is a treat for both electronic music enthusiasts and casual fans. Performing with a group of 80’s Seattle rockers, Leimer created a sound not unlike that of Brian Eno or David Byrne’s work, albeit with a heavier electronic touch. Artificial Dance remains a compelling and varied listen, and comes highly recommended to all fans of electronic and new wave music. (Listen / Buy)

REGRM014_CVR-700x700Michel Redolfi – Pacific Tubular Waves / Immersion
Editions Mego continues to bring the goods. French composer Michel Redolfi counts the likes of Four Tet, Demdike Stare, and Rene Hell among his fans, and for good reason. This album of field recordings translates Redolfi’s time by the waves and waters of San Diego and the Pacific Ocean into wildly experimental music across 9 movements on 2 distinct projects. The work here is emotionally diverse and technically interesting, with submerged recordings and synths from decades ago creating an expansive and claustrophobic sound, much like the ocean itself. It’s an interesting look at a composer who wasn’t afraid to think outside the box. Not to mention the vinyl comes with 3D glasses so you can look at the cover. Visionary. (Listen / Buy)

soichiSoichi Terada – Sounds from the Far East
Best known for his work on the Ape Escape video game series, Japanese electronic musician Soichi Terada has a wide array of works aside from the stuff featured in the popular monkey-catching simulator. Reissued on Hunee’s “Rush Hour Recordings” (whose album Hunch Music is one of the best electronic albums of the year in it’s own right), Sounds from the Far East sees a compilation of works from Terada’s own “Far East Recordings” label, from Terada himself and two tracks from collaborator Shinichiro Yokota. Excellent house music all the way from Japan, with a strong sense of melody and whimsy. (Listen / Buy)

CW1Y0P9WUAA1TcxSun City Girls – Torch Of The Mystics
Recorded in 1990, and reissued by Abduction Records, this long out-of-print record has been put on wax again for its 25th anniversary, and it’s cause for rock fans to celebrate. The product of brothers Alan and Richard Bishop, the Arizona band has a multitude of albums to their name but only one as revered as Torch of the Mystics. The band members’ Lebanese heritage in particular creates a soundscape that incorporates psychedelic rock, jazz, noise, and the aforementioned Middle Eastern instrumentation to create a cohesive and left-field record that is both confusing and exhilarating. (Listen / Buy)

SOJR300LPVarious Artists – Punk 45 Series
Now in it’s 3rd year, Soul Jazz Records’ “Punk 45” series has proven that attention to detail and communication with fans makes all the difference. Previous releases have focused on Proto-punk and punk in the UK, but this year’s 2 releases were entitled “The decline of the Mid-West” and focused on the early punk scenes of Akron & Cleveland, Ohio (Maybe LeBron James is a Pere Ubu fan?) The breadth and depth of these compilations are impressive, and are an exhaustive look at punk music in America and beyond. Well worth a listen for anyone interested in the evolution of punk music and the micro-genres within it. (Listen / Buy)

homepage_large.fd0db5bdLizzy Mercier Descloux – Press Color
Originally released in 1979 and reissued by Light In The Attic Records, a fantastic label known for their reissues, the likes of which include recent Françoise Hardy, Sly Stone, and Lewis reissues. Lizzy Mercier Descloux’s Press Color continues  in those footsteps, highlighting an under-appreciated album that was important in the formation of the no-wave and post-disco movements. Fans of Grace Jones and Patti Smith take note, Descloux, along with Didier Esteban, Erik Eliasson and Jimmy Young, created an identity all their own. Mutant disco is an apt genre description, as Descloux bleats and sings in a deep French accent over the beats, where Descloux’s interesting vocal tics takes command. (Listen / Buy)

The Pretty Things – Bouquets From A Cloudy Sky
To commemorate The Pretty Things’ 50th anniversary, this career spanning box set collects every Pretty Things album, from their 1965 self-titled to 2007’s Balboa Island, 2 CD’s of rarities, and a host of other bonuses. The seminal British band had their heyday around the same time as bands like The Rolling Stone & The Beatles, so they remain underappreciated (The band was actually founded by original Rolling Stones guitarist Dick Taylor), but the box set does justice in giving the band their time to shine. Fans of rock music in any form should not miss this box set from a band that pioneered so much and paved the way for other bands in punk, garage, psychedelic, and brit-pop. (Listen / Buy)

R-1725071-1239384769.jpegAta Kak – Obaa Sima
Awesome Tapes from Africa, the product of ethnomusicology student Brian Shimkovitz, has done wonders for broadening the appeal of music from the continent. Previous reissues of Hailu Mergia and SK Kakraba made waves, but Obaa Sima was the cassette that started Shimkovitz’s obsession in the first place. A frenetic mix of disco, hip-hop, and dance music, all before any of those genres had any real footing on the continent, creates a wonderfully weird journey through the mind of Ghanaian rapper Ata Kak, real name Yaw Atta-Owusu, who was part of Ghana’s Hiplife movement. Fans of William Onyeabor and Omar Souleyman will delight at the music showcased here, as will anyone looking to expand their musical palette. Previously only available digitally and in low bit-rate form, Obaa Sima’s reissue is long overdue. (Listen / Buy)

HC35-FRONT-ITUNESFrancis The Great – Ravissante, Baby (Negro Phasing)
24 minutes of ferocious afro-funk from 1977, done by a French-Cameroonian band on instrumentation and a 7 year old on vocals. That’s an insane, but amazing recipe for success. Hot Casa’s reissue of Ravissante, Baby showcases the best of the French-African diaspora, with Francis Mbarga on extremely danceable beats done by Michel Morose on synths, Victor Edimo on bass, and Toto Guillaume on guitar. Produced by Francis’ mother and father, the two tracks on display here are a charming look at the music of Africa. Of all the “world” music that has been reissued in recent years, this has to be some of the best and most crazy.  (Listen / Buy)



The Isley Brothers – RCA Victor and T-Neck Album Masters (1959-1983)
To call The Isley Brothers legendary would be a gross understatement. The wildly influential soul group has been in the industry for decades, and The RCA Victor & T-Neck box set is a thrilling, if not fully exhaustive look at the band that was foundational for Pop, Soul, R&B, Gospel, and Hip-Hop music. The DNA of black music for the next 50 years is in full effect, as multiple classic albums like 3+3, The Heat is On, and Brother, Brother, Brother are placed alongside some of the Isley’s most iconic singles. You’ll of course get “Twist & Shout” and “That Lady” alongside those classic albums, but you’ll also get thrilling deep cuts like “(At Your Best) You Are Love” and “Ohio/Machine Gun”. Fans of Bobby Womack, Marvin Gaye, and soul music in general will be at home, but any fan of music in the 21st century should be intrigued as well. You’ll hear a sample used in a familiar hip-hop song every other track, or a song that’s been covered to death by your favorite contemporaries. This isn’t a complete discography of the group, but it is some of their best work presented in one easy to consume box set. Bottom line is, no one does it better than the Isley’s. (Listen / Buy)

20884-black-bastardsKMD – Black Bastards
MF DOOM fans take note. Before Daniel Dumile donned his metal mask and embarked on his solo career, he was called Zev Love X and founded a hip-hop trio called KMD, consisting of Dumile, his younger brother (DJ Subroc), and another MC named Rodan. Recorded in 1993, Black Bastards coincided with the unexpected death of Daniel’s brother and the subsequent dropping of the group from their label, Elektra Records. The album art was too controversial, and after being put on the backburner, it would take Black Bastards till 2001 to be officially released. In that time the album would be bootlegged and the legend of Dumile would grow in New York, but Dumile would spiral into depression, travel the country homeless, and then rise from the ashes to become Metal Face DOOM. Black Bastards is an interesting look at the formative years of a rapper who would become one of hip-hop’s most recognizable figures. The album also serves as a look at the 90’s hip-hop scene, the time of MTV Raps! and tightly knit musical communities. Any fan of hip-hop or DOOM should give this super-villain origin story a look. (Listen / Buy)

SFW40201Lead Belly – The Smithsonian Folkways Collection
Huddie William Ledbetter is a godfather. A pioneer of American music in all genres, and a vanguard of blues and early rock music. But for all his importance, he, like many other formational black artists in rock, folk, and jazz, seem to be forgotten, or at least not as well known as they should be. The Smithsonian Folkways Collection sets out to rectify this injustice. Though he died in 1949, Lead Belly left behind a treasure trove of music, and the excursion through this 5-CD retrospective is both educational and highly enjoyable. Even if you think you don’t like folk or blues music, Lead Belly might just change your mind for good. (Listen / Buy)