Musoscribe’s Best of 2010: Reissues

Concord merits mention yet again, this time for being responsible for two of the best reissued CDs of 2010. They’re also the two (of these five) by artists you’ll likely recognize. Ray CharlesGenius + Soul = Jazz gets the deluxe treatment via superb sound, relevant bonus tracks galore and scholarly liner notes from Will Friedwald. If you’re one of those people who admires Charles’ work but finds some of it a bit too stylized, this is a perfect entry point that could change your mind.

That label also brought forth the latest in its ongoing Frank Sinatra reissue series: the mid-sixties Strangers in the Night. Released at the height of the rock era – but wholly uninfluenced by it — this album has nonetheless worn extremely well. A few bonus tracks and excellent liner notes from Ken Barnes make is even better.

The remaining three are seriously obscure titles from virtually unknown artists. Midwestern rock act Spur completed an album in the very early 70s, and it was released regionally. Then they faded from the scene. What they left behind was an amazing folk-rock-psych album influenced by the Byrds, Moby Grape and other greats, yet with its own identity. Now Of the Moments has been reissued on vinyl with an altered track listing; this is one amazing listen. Its release confused this writer to no end, as the review explains.

Poobah was a heavy, heavy heavy group of the early 70s. Their debut LP Let Me In went on to become a collectors’ holy grail of sorts. It’s now been reissued with a ton of bonus tracks (essentially doubling the album’s length), and there’s nary a weak one in the bunch. For fans of the Black Sabbath and Uriah Heep brand of rock, this is a definite don’t miss disc. The group is still at it in 2011.

Esquerita taught Little Richard how to play piano. Then Little Richard got famous thanks (in part) to Esquerita’s brand of technique and delivery. So then Esquerita decided to get in on the action himself. Weirder and wilder than his student, Esquerita produced some of the rawest, craziest music of the early rock era. His best sides are collected on Wildcat Shakeout. You have been warned.

Next we’ll look at my favorite concerts of 2010, and then we’ll wrap up with the Academy Award for Best Pic…er, no, the best new albums of 2010.