It’s tradition here at SDE to take a peak into the future and examine what the next 12 months might hold for music fans who enjoy reissues and box sets.
On the face of it, re-releasing an old album or some kind of box set might seem straight forward – record company owns music, record company releases music – but in reality these releases are a tricky business, with many, many parties often involved in the process, including the artist, lawyers, disgruntled ex-band members, record label, managers (sometimes more than one), accountants, PR firms and management companies that have their own strategy about what their artist should be doing. Another shadowy figure plays a part too, especially in recent times; I refer, of course, to the Grim Reaper…
On a whim, a box set can be redefined, reshaped (not literally, although that might have happened to Screamadelica), diluted, or even cancelled because someone is not happy, for some reason or another. Box sets project often tweak the nose of schedules and drop ice cubes down the vest of fan expectations. Let’s not forget that it’s taken five years for the Roxy Music box to move from its ‘chrysalis’ stage and take flight and – whisper it – I was working on Tears For Fears‘ The Seeds Of Love super deluxe in late 2014!
So while it’s fair game to constructively criticise these releases once they emerge, the fact that they exist at all is normally something worth celebrating (normally). What follows – SPOILER ALERT – is a look at reissues-yet-to-come. Both confirmed releases for the early part of 2018 and then a look at what is likely to happen or what might happen later on. Enjoy!
Five years ago Warners kicked off their Fleetwood Mac reissue campaign with Rumours and since then we’ve enjoyed super deluxe editions of Tusk, Mirage and Tango in the Night (plus associated RSD specials). The label are now going back to 1975 and will reissue the Fleetwood Mac album, completing all the studio albums that feature all members of the current line-up.
Reissues, box sets and albums of interest in January include:
- Fleetwood Mac / super deluxe edition
- Ten Years After / 1967-74
- Propaganda / A Secret Wish
- Ringo Starr / vinyl reissues
- David Bowie / Beauty and the Beast (7″ picture disc)
- Leo Sayer / The Gold Collection (3CD)
- Bert Jansch / A Man I’d Rather Be
- Andrew Ridgeley / Son of Albert
- Neil Young / The Visitor vinyl
- Martika / Martika’s Kitchen 2CD deluxe
The long awaited and now mildly controversial Roxy Music box is reissued in Feb. The price is still the biggest talking point along with the use of the 1999 remaster (not rated amongst aficionados) but there are a lot of positives: early demos, BBC sessions, and Steven Wilson’s 5.1 mix and what looks like an amazing book.
Reissues, box sets and albums of interest in February include:
- Roxy Music / super deluxe edition
- Ramones / vinyl reissues
- Felt / CD & vinyl reissues
- Belinda Carlisle / vinyl box sets
- Average White Band / vinyl box
- Tony Banks / Five
- Jethro Tull / Heavy Horses
- Simple Minds / Walk Between Worlds
- Altered Images / Epic Years box set
- Culture Club / Live at Wembley 2LP coloured vinyl
Pet Shop Boys continue with their ‘Catalogue’ reissue campaign, this month with Please, Actually and Introspective. Presumably they will also re-reissue Behaviour, Very and Bilingual later in the year. These ‘Further Listening’ reissues have been good, but because the PSBs passed up the opportunity to issue a 30th anniversary Please box set, I really feel the future looks bleak in terms of back catalogue and box sets. One ‘Catalogue’ is finished, that will be it for ages.
Reissues, box sets and albums of interest in February include:
- Rick Parfitt / Over and Out
- Pet Shop Boys / Please, Actually, Introspective ‘Further Listening’
- Lisa Stansfield / Deeper (new album)
- The Levellers / We The Collective (new album)
- The Courteeners / St Jude: Rewired
APRIL 2018 & BEYOND
The rumours are that Apple and Universal will reissue a 50th anniversary edition of ‘The Beatles‘ aka The White Album this year. The 50th anniversary is in November so if this happens, it won’t be a summer release like last year’s Sgt. Pepper. Expect ‘Esher demos’, outtakes and more, although a 5.1 mix of the entire double album doesn’t seem very likely…
Talking of the Fab Four, late last year when asked of his plans for for this year, Paul McCartney told fans: “I’ll probably be putting out a new album.” Good news, although whether that means there won’t be a archive collection reissue is unknown. In 2013, Paul’s last studio album New was issued in October and Wings Over America was reissued in May of that same year. SDE would like to see a similar timeline this year, although Paul won’t want either a new album or a reissue to clash with any Beatles product. I would personally love Wild Life, London Town or Back To The Egg, but I’m expecting 1997’s Flaming Pie to be the next reissue, although that’s gut instinct more than anything else. It’s only 20 years old and therefore lacks some of the ‘mystery’ of those much earlier album. I do wish Macca would put the 1970s ‘to bed’ in terms of his archive reissues. The other album outstanding from that decade is Red Rose Speedway.
David Bowie‘s official twitter feed hinted at a Let’s Dance related Bowie product on Christmas Day but yesterday we saw that this relates to a digital only release of the original demo to Let’s Dance. A full blown reissue of the 1983 album would never have tied in with Parlophone’s strategy and we aren’t expecting anything this year. Here at SDE we are expecting a fourth box set (in the series that started with 2015’s Five Years) to feature a remastered Let’s Dance and relevant bonus tracks to be included within that on Re:Call 4. The box will probably include Let’s Dance, Tonight, Never Let Me Down, the Labyrinth soundtrack and other associated work (Absolute Beginners, When The Wind Blows etc) with an outside chance of the first Tin Machine album. That would by ‘tidy’ if nothing else. There are loads of remixes in the 1980s and not all of them good. Someone will be sweating over decisions about the merits of ‘Vocal Dance’ mixes and ‘Extended Dub’ mixes. Any hint of never-been-on-CD omissions and you can bet fans will be up in arms. A box celebrating the 1980s shouldn’t be coy about remixes.
Eurythmics recently failed in their bid to be accepted as 2018 inductees in the ‘Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’, but at least there seems to be a thawing of relations with Sony, which has resulted in band-approved reissues of all their studio albums (except Nineteen-Eighty Four) on 180g vinyl. Not really what fans want, but a step in the right direction, I suppose. I’d be amazed if the band and label managed to agree on and deliver a box set this year, but if they were going to do it, then 2018 would be a good one because 35 years ago both the Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) and Touch albums were issued.
Any good reissue sleuth looks at anniversaries as a place to start when looking at what might be re-released in the next 12 months. 2018 is of course the 25th anniversary year for anything issued in 1993. Albums SDE loves that were put out in that year include INXS‘ Full Moon, Dirty Hearts, Suede‘s debut, Terence Trent D’Arby‘s Symphony or Damn, The The‘s Dusk and Duran Duran’s The Wedding Album (technically called Duran Duran).
Actually, let’s talk about Duran Duran. This year is the 40th anniversary of the formation of the band, which is interesting… In terms of reissues, an expanded Wedding Album would be surely very well received; this was apparently on the cards a few years ago, but nothing came of it. Despite a decent 2009 deluxe, I actually think a big super deluxe of Rio or Seven and the Ragged Tiger (35th anniversary for the latter) is more likely, but everything depends on the health of the band’s relationship with Warners who own most of their back catalogue (and indeed put out 2015’s Paper Gods). Duran Duran seem far more focussed on touring and new albums these days than looking back and all has been quiet on the reissue front since 2010, when Big Thing (30th anniversary this year) was re-released. To put that into perspective, Paul McCartney has delivered 10 studio albums (and one live album) in the same period. Nine DD albums have been released since Big Thing and none of them been reissued and expanded (I’m not counting special editions near to the time of release, such as The Wedding Album 2CD). Even the career rejuvenating Astronaut (which feels relatively recent) is already almost 14 years old! The band can’t blame label politics for the non-appearance of some of their output. They own 1997’s Medazzaland outright, for example, and continue to do nothing with it. That wouldn’t even be a ‘reissue’ in the UK since it was never released here in the first place!
Although The Red Shoes is 25 this year, Kate Bush‘s The Kick Inside is 40 years old, which is a much bigger deal. One wonders whether Kate will finally relent and allow one of her studio albums to be remastered, expanded and repackaged for an anniversary super deluxe edition (go on Kate, you know you want to!). The album contains her only UK number one, Wuthering Heights (issued 40 years ago last Saturday) and despite later experimentation, The Kick Inside remains a remarkable record. The Man With The Child In His Eyes was recorded three years before the album was released (in 1975) when Kate was only 16. Amazing. A reissue feels very unlikely, but then if you’d suggested in January 2014 that Kate might perform live during that year, you’d have been laughed at.
The situation with Tears For Fears isn’t dissimilar to Paul McCartney. There’s the much anticipated reissue of The Seeds of Love waiting in the wings and the small matter of a new album in the can, which is also backstage, ready to make an entrance. Between them, band, management and label need to work out strategies and priorities before we see anything more. The good news is that with a 2018 tour already committed to, they are surely going to have to release something. Or maybe not. My prediction, if you want it, is that the album that is supposed to be delivered around May will end up being pushed back to later this year and the Seeds of Love reissue [for which I wrote the sleeve notes in 2015!] will go back until 2019 – the 30th anniversary year. I hope I’m wrong, but we shall see.
a-ha fans can’t really complain about a lack of activity in recent times. In 2015 we had surprise comeback album Cast In Steel and three truly fabulous reissues of Stay On These Roads, East of the Sun West of the Moon and Memorial Beach. 2016 saw the release of the two-disc Ultimate a-ha: Time and Again compilation and last year we had both the MTV Unplugged and the Waaktaar & Zoe album. Next up should be reissues of Minor Earth Major Sky (2000) and Lifelines (2002) which will hopefully hit ‘the shops’ in the next 12 months.
George Michael‘s Listen Without Prejudice reissue was a big success last year, reaching number one in the UK album charts and the Freedom film was, in the end, a fantastic promotional tool. Of course it’s very sad that George is no longer with us but fans will want to know what the future brings in terms of his back catalogue. In a recent interview feature, UK industry publication Music Week stated that Sony and David Austin (George’s friend/manager) want the LWP project to “kickstart a 10-15 year plan that will secure Michael’s legacy in the same way Warner has with David Bowie.” That’s an interesting idea, but unlike Bowie, George Michael wasn’t massively prolific. In David Bowie’s first 50 years he released 22 studio albums. In the same time period George put out seven, including the two Wham! albums and his solo output. Warners squeezed a 13LP vinyl box from three of David’s albums (Diamond Dogs, Young Americans and Station to Station) but, with the best will in the world, can you imagine a 13LP vinyl box that contains Fantastic, Make It Big and The Final? Whatever product does emerge, I don’t see much happening this year, to be honest, and David Austin seems to be the man in control. He told Music Week: “There is a strategy there. It’s a long-term game. It’s not like we’re going to go out and make new records, I hate that kind of stuff.”
Lloyd Cole has said that he is looking to deliver a vinyl box set at some point in 2018. It’s not yet known whether this will be a Commotions package or his solo work. Previously he’d mentioned that Universal didn’t want to do it, so this might get licensed to a third party. The Small Faces‘ posthumous The Autumn Stone double album looks likely to be reissued in the next 12 months and granted it’s not a reissue, but we can expect a new Bruce Springsteen album which is, in The Boss’ words “influenced by Southern California pop music of the ’70s.”. It would be nice if he’d issue a Born in the USA box set! Those Cardigans vinyl reissues mentioned late last year didn’t appear in 2017 so hopefully they’ll make an appearance in 2018, and as a follow-up to the Sam Brown box, expect an SDE-curated four-CD set featuring a 1980’s pop act around May/June time!
ABBA didn’t release a studio album in 1978, but a 40th anniversary half-speed master (with associated seven-inch box set and seven-inch picture discs) of 1979’s Voulez Vous is almost certainly in the schedule for next year. It’s hard to see what could be released this year – surely Universal wouldn’t have the balls to put out another variation of ABBA Gold!
Shirley Manson wears the album cover to Garbage’s Version 2.0
Garbage have already announced live shows in London in September under the banner Version 2.0: 20 Years Paranoid which will celebrate the 20th anniversary of their 1998 album. That does rather suggest that they will reissue the album, as they did in 2015 for their debut. I love this ‘sophomore’ long-player, but please Garbage… no more ‘digital only’ super deluxe editions.
Let’s speculate a bit more… Eric Clapton‘s Backless is 40 years old in 2018 and hasn’t been reissued before, and some are expecting a Blood on the Tracks-related Bob Dylan box set in the last quarter of this year. The Rolling Stones have already put out a box set of 1978’s Some Girls, but could the 35 year old Undercover (produced with Chris Kimsey) be a contender, for re-release. Perhaps a long shot since Mick doesn’t necessarily speak fondly of the album. The Who are never shy about reissuing their back catalogue and 1978’s Who Are You does sit on the anniversary ley line, although Who’s Next from ’71 would have more commercial appeal as a super deluxe edition. Cherry Red bought Howard Jones‘ catalogue from Warners last year. After last year’s inaugural Best 1983-2017 we are bound to see some further activity in the near future, since they didn’t spend that cash for nothing. Elton John‘s 1970s output is box set light, and even when Universal did issue Goodbye Yellow Brick Road as a super deluxe edition in 2014, it was a bit of a mixed bag (“Miguel, featuring Wale” covering Bennie and the Jets, anyone?).
There’s probably some sets I’ve forgotten and as always, there will inevitably be plenty of releases that will come as if from nowhere, to surprise, delight and maybe disappoint us along the way. That’s part of the fun. Enjoy expanding your physical music collection in 2018 and I will look forward to your company.
Paul Sinclair. Editor, SuperDeluxeEdition.com.
Know about any box sets happening this year? Leave a comment with the details