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Best Of 2003: Reissues

Don't even want to talk about all the great 2003 reissues I haven't picked up yet--Bowie, Costello, the "No Thanks" punk box, etc.

For straight reissues of original albums, the criteria for selection are (a) sonic improvement, (b) packaging, (c) bonus material, and of course, (d) inherent quality of the music. For new compilations, the same standards apply, with the additional key factor of (e) choice of repertoire--in other words, did they pick the right tracks for the collection, or were important songs omitted?

If I were more honest with myself, there would probably be a lot more Dylan on this list.

1. THE BEATLES - Let It Be...Naked (Capitol/Apple)
Flawed, yes; doesn't matter, it's The Fucking Beatles.

2. BOB DYLAN - Highway 61 Revisited (Columbia/Legacy)
The best American album of the 1960s, lovingly rendered.

3. PETULA CLARK - Ultimate (BMG Heritage)
At long last, a definitive single-disc collection of the best of The Queen Of Pop, containing all 15 of her U.S. Top 40 hits and then some.

4. THE WHO - Who's Next (Deluxe Edition) (MCA/Universal)
Of all the grandiose, overplayed classic rock warhorses of the early '70s, none has stood the test of time better.

5. R.E.M. - In Time: The Best Of 1988-2003/B-Sides (Warner Bros.)
Not a scattershot collection of tracks spanning 15 years--an amazingly cohesive listen.

6. BOB DYLAN - Blonde On Blonde (Columbia/Legacy)
Splitting what was originally a double-LP onto two CDs, despite the fact that it fits on one disc, is both cute and annoying; it also happens that this is the best double-album of all time.

7. BOB DYLAN - Bringing It All Back Home (Columbia/Legacy)
Most dramatic sonic improvement on a reissue of a '60s rock recording I've ever heard, especially on "She Belongs To Me"--and I haven't even heard it in SACD yet.

8. VARIOUS ARTISTS, compiled by DJ SPINNA & BOBBITO - The Wonder Of Stevie (Harmless)
How to do a DJ compilation: take 15 mostly obscure Stevie Wonder covers, segue them into a seamless mix on one CD, and collect the unmixed originals on a separate disc--genius.

9. TALKING HEADS - Once In A Lifetime (Sire)
No surprises, just three CDs and one DVD of definitive semi-popular art-punk, with unique (read "impossible to file") packaging.

10. NEIL YOUNG - On The Beach (Warner Bros.)
Cool cult fave finally makes it to CD.

11. VARIOUS - Mullets Rock! (Epic/Legacy)
Classic rock that says what it means and means what it says.

12. THE ISLEY BROTHERS - 3+3 (Epic/Legacy)
The funk soul brothers, check it out now.

13. NO DOUBT - The Singles 1992-2003 (Interscope)
A great singles band struts its finest stuff.

14. JEFF BUCKLEY - Live At Sine (Columbia/Legacy)
A sprawling, imperfect, riveting portrait of the tortured artist.

15. SLY & THE FAMILY STONE - The Essential (Epic/Legacy)
Finally, properly remastered Sly on CD; too bad "Trip To Your Heart" was omitted.

16. UNCLE TUPELO - No Depression (Columbia/Legacy)
The record that started a movement.

17. ELVIS PRESLEY - 2nd To None (RCA/BMG Heritage)
More pristine-sounding King.

18. AC/DC - High Voltage (Epic/Legacy)

19. ELASTICA - The Radio One Sessions (Koch)
Where have you gone John Peel, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

20. VARIOUS - Verve Unmixed Vol. 2 (Verve)
There's a Mixed version too, which I haven't heard, but this disc is packed with choice slices of soul-jazz.

More lists...
50 Favorite Albums Of 2003
50 Favorite Singles Of 2003
25 Favorite Live Shows Of 2003