THE BEST REISSUES OF 2012-PART 1.

THE BEST REISSUES OF 2012-PART 1.

It’s that time of year when reviewers look back on the best releases of the year. So far, I’ve picked the best box sets and compilations of 2012. Now, it’s time to turn my attention the best reissues of 2012. Given who many albums are reissued on a weekly basis, and how many reissues I’ve reviewed and bought over the past twelve months, that isn’t going to be easy. What makes this even harder, is the amount of albums reissued on a weekly basis.

Nowadays, the reissue market is one of the most buoyant parts of the music industry. It seems music fan’s appetite for updating their music collection is almost insatiable. People want to revisit the music of their youth. Now twenty or thirty years later, they have the disposable income to do so. That’s why it’s no longer just so called “classic albums” that are rereleased. Indeed, nowadays, nostalgia is almost an industry in itself. This means the reissue market is thriving. Each week, dozens of albums are reissued, and no longer in just CD. Recently, album have been rereleased on multiple formats. There’s everything from double and triple albums, right through to lavish box sets and even, albums released on USB. Some of these box sets can cost hundreds of pounds. Given, many fans completists when it comes to a band or artists back-catalogue, record companies have a captive audience for their wares.

For music fans, hungry for nostalgia, they can’t get enough of these reissues. Especially, when many of these reissues see albums previously unavailable for many years. That’s been the case during 2012. Many albums reissued during 2012 have been unavailable since they were released thirty or forty years ago. At last, people can update from their trusty vinyl copies. Similarly, this music is now available for a new generation of music fans to discover. So 2012 has seen classic and rare albums aplenty rereleased. Indeed, over the last twelve months, music fans have been spoilt for choice. I realized this whilst researching this article. So without any further ado, here are my choices for the best reissues of 2012.

DENIECE WILLIAMS-THIS IS NIECY.

Back in February 2012, Deniece Williams’ legendary debut album This Is Niecy was rereleased by BBR Records on February 27. Deneice Williams was almost an accidental singer. Originally, she meant to pursue a career in medicine. After singing part time, Deneice released a series of singles and sang backing vocals for Esther Phillips, Linda Lewis and Stevie Wonder. After being part of Stevie Wonder’s backing vocalists Wonderlove, Deneice signed to Columbia Records in 1976.

Released in 1976, This Is Niecy would prove to be one of Deneice’s most successful albums, being certified gold in the US, and silver in the UK. It also featured a song that would forever be synonymous with Deneice…Free. Apart from Free, another Deneice Williams classic That’s What Friends Are For features on This Is Neicy. Like the other tracks, both were co-written by Deneice. Produced by two music legends Charles Stepney and Maurice White of Earth, Wind and Fire, This Is Neicy launched Deneice Williams career.

Although This Is Niecy was Deniece Williams debut solo album, it’s a really mature and polished album, full of some stunning tracks. By the time Deneice signed to Columbia Records, she was an experienced singer, who’d spent years honing her talent. This Is Neicy was the result of all these years learning her craft. Her experience shines through and Deneice is at her soulful best, breathing life and meaning into each track. She’s at her best on tracks like Free and That’s What Friends Are For. After the success of This Is Niecy, it would be five years before Deniece Williams replicated this success. My Melody, released in 1981 and produced by Thom Bell and along with This Is Neicy are two of the finest albums of Deneice Williams’ career.

DENIECE WILLIAMS-THIS IS NIECY.

SANDY BARBER-THE BEST IS YET TO COME.

Back in 2011, Al Kent released Disco Love Volume 2 and one of my favorite tracks from the compilation was Sandy Barber’s I Think I’ll Do Some Stepping (On My Own). Like many people, I started looking into Sandy Barber’s career. I discovered I Think I’ll Do Some Stepping (On My Own) was a track from Sandy Barber’s 1977 album The Best Is Yet To Come, which was released on Olde Worlde Records. It was unavailable on CD and even vinyl copies were hard to find. Then in February 2012, BBE Music rereleased The Best Is Yet To Come. At last, this hidden gem of an album was available for a new generation of music fans to discover. For many people, Christmas had come early. 

As an added bonus, BBE Music’s rerelease of The Best Is Yet To Come features tracks from what was meant to be Sandy’s sophomore album. Sadly, that album was never released. The icing on this delicious musical cake that’s The Best Is Yet To Come, are remixes of Sandy’s classic I Think I’ll Do Some Stepping (On My Own) by John Morales and Glasgow’s disco don Al Kent. What shines through on The Best Is Yet To Come, is Sandy Barber’s versatility as a vocalist. She’s just as comfortable singing slow tracks as the quicker, uptempo tracks. With this mixture of styles of music, The Best Is Yet To Come is an album that all lovers of soul, funk and disco will adore. The rerelease of The Best Is Yet To Come by BBE Music gives everyone to rediscover this hidden gem of album, thirty-five years after it was originally released. For anyone who likes their music deeply soulful, funky and dance-floor friendly, then The Best Is Yet To Come is essential listening.

SANDY BARBER-THE BEST IS YET TO COME.

ELBOW BONES AND THE RACKETEERS-NEW YORK AT DAWN.

When Elbow Bones and The Racketeers released their debut single A Night In Yew York in 1983, it sounded like the soundtrack for a forties nightclub, with its big band sound given a contemporary eighties twist. You could imagine the smokey atmosphere where movie stars, hustlers and gangsters sat side by side, sipping whiskey, gambling and smoking. Meanwhile Elbow Bones and The Racketeers’ provided the perfect jazz drenched, big band soundtrack. Truly, the music was like revisiting another era, but updated for the eighties. A Night In Yew York was one of these irresistible tracks that you couldn’t help but fall in love with. It put a smile on your face, with its sultry, retro sound. Nearly thirty years after A Night In New York’s release, Hot Shot Records rereleased the album, reintroducing Augustus Darnell and his cast of collaborators.

Elbow Bones and The Racketeers saw August Darnell of Kid Creole and The Coconuts reinvent himself. This was very different, much more grownup album. It seemed to appeal to a much wider audience. Augustus put together a multitalented team of vocalists and songwriters. Vocals came from of Stephanie Fuller and Glichy Dan, with songs penned by Augustus Darnell, Stony Browder Jr, Peter Schott and Ron Rogers. The result was a fusion of old and new music, courtesy of Elbow Bones and The Racketeers. A Night In Yew York’s vintage sound was like stepping back in time, to another era, one with a delicious, jazz-drenched soundtrack.

ELBOW BONES AND THE RACKETEERS-NEW YORK AT DAWN.

DONNA MCGHEE-MAKE IT LAST FOREVER.

After making a breakthrough singing with The Fatback Band, Donna McGhee signed to the disco label Red Greg, releasing Make It Last Forever in 1978. Produced by the Greg Carmichael and Patrick Adams, Make It Last Forever, which was rereleased in April 2012, is a true disco classic, with copies changing hands for upwards of $100.  Make It Last Forever features the seminal disco classic Mr. Blindman and the Grammy Award nominated I’m A Love Bug. Although Donna McGhee’s debut album Make It Last Forever is perceived one of the best albums of the disco era, it wasn’t a commercial success. Instead, it remains a hidden gem of the disco era.

Following Make It Last Forever, Donna McGhee never released any further solo albums. Instead, Donna continued to ollaborated with Patrick Adams and Greg Carmichael, She played an important role in the success of their music. Her vocals can be heard on many of their most important collaborations. At least BBR Records’ rerelease of Donna McGhee’s only solo album Make It Last Forever means that a new generation of music fans can rediscover this hidden gem, without spending $100 to do so.

DONNA MCGHEE-MAKE IT LAST FOREVER.

THE DELLS-THEY SAID IT COULDN’T BE DONE, BUT WE DID IT!

Not many groups survive twenty-five years in the music industry, but in 1977 The Dells celebrated their twenty-fifth anniversary by releasing their sixteenth album, They Said It Couldn’t Be Done, But We Did It!, which was rereleased by SoulMusic.Com in 16th April 2012. To recapture the success The Dells enjoyed earlier in their career, they headed to Philadelphia, where they hooked up with hook-up with Norman Harris. His production vehicle The Harris Machine included some of Philly’s best songwriters, producers, arrangers and musicians, Norman headed to Sigma Sound Studios to revive The Dells career

The Harris Machine provided a one-stop shop for The Dells. They provided eight tracks for They Said It Couldn’t Be Done, But We Did It!. With The Dells turning back the clock and producing some peerless performances, They Said It Couldn’t Be Done, But We Did It, should’ve fared better. However, the album was released at the height of disco’s popularity. By 1977, soul groups like The Dells were no longer as popular. 

Although They Said It Couldn’t Be Done, But We Did It! wasn’t a commercial success, it resulted in one The Dells best albums of the seventies. Indeed, They Said It Couldn’t Be Done, But We Did It! is something of a hidden gem in The Dells’ back-catalogue. Norman Harris’ Philly Sound makeover of The Dells’ music transforms The Dells, and in the process, The Dells became honorary Philadelphians.

THE DELLS-THEY SAID IT COULDN’T BE DONE, BUT WE DID IT!

MARLENA SHAW-WHO IS THIS BITCH ANYWAY?

When Marlena Shaw left Cadet Records after the release of her second album The Spice of Life, she became the first woman to sign to the prestigious Blue Note label. During the four years Marlena was signed to Blue Note, she released some of the best music of her career. Starting with 1972s, Marlena, Marlena Shaw went on to release four studio albums plus one live album. From the Depths of My Soul followed in 1973, the same year as Marlena Shaw Live At Montreux was released. Then came her best Blue Note album, 1975s Who Is This Bitch Anyway!, an innovative fusion of soul and jazz, where Marlena explores of feminist, sexual politics and social issues. For many people, myself included, Who Is This Bitch Anyway?, which was rereleased on SoulMusic Records in August 2012, represents Marlena Shaw at the height of her creative powers. Who Is This Bitch Anyway? surpassed everything she’d previously released, or anything that she’d release after that.

Marlena Shaw is at the height of creative powers on Who Is This Bitch Anyway? This wasn’t just her best album for Blue Note, but her best album ever. Nothing else came close. It’s a bit like an opera, one where the issues addressed are feminism, sexual politics plus social and political issues. On Who Is This Bitch Anyway? Marlena was at her very best, fusing jazz, soul and gospel. Her voice goes from sassy and confident, to emotive, impassioned and tinged with sadness, hurt and regret. It’s no coincidence that a change of producer to Bernard Ighner, lead to the best album of Marlena’s career. They were a perfect fit, like a musical ying and yang. Bernard brought out the best in Marlena Shaw, along with some of the best session musicians of the time. Truly, there isn’t a bad track on Who Is This Bitch Anyway? For anyone yet to discover Marlena Shaw’s music this is quite simply the place to start.

MARLENA SHAW-WHO IS THIS BITCH ANYWAY?

Choosing six of what I regard as the best reissues of 2012 wasn’t easy. It would’ve been easy to choose six of the most successful albums rereleased. However, that would be doing a disservice to albums which, for whatever reason, weren’t a commercial success. Often, fate and sheer bad luck stop an album from being the success the music deserved. While albums like Deniece WIlliams’ This Is Neicy were critically acclaimed and commercially successful, other albums, including Sandy Barber’s The Best Is Yet To Come had the misfortune to be released on smaller labels. If The Dells’ They Said It Couldn’t Be Done, But We Did It!, had been released a few years earlier, the album might have been a bigger success. However, They Said It Couldn’t Be Done, But We Did It! was released at the height of disco’s popularity. Regular readers of this blog will realize, that because an album isn’t a commercial success, doesn’t make it a bad album. You’ll realize this when I tell you about my next installment of The Best Reissues of 2012.

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