As great as it is to find a classic vintage record on the original label in great shape that sounds perfect when you drop the needle…when your looking for albums in the 25-75 year old range, that can be a difficult and expensive proposition. Enter reissues.
Now if you’re the type of record buyer concerned primarily with curating a prestigious collection, you may be inclined to dismiss reissues. But if your primary concern is listening to great records then reissues are a godsend. But even some serious collectors are adding certain reissues to their collections – but only the most specific pressings, of course 😉.
As much as I love the availability of reissues, it is good to be cautious about the source. For example, the reissues from Sundazed Music (Johnny Cash & Bo Diddley in the photo,) are phenomenal. (The founder of Sundazed was a mastering and remastering wizard in his career prior to Sundazed) And some artists, like Pink Floyd, have begun reissuing their back catalog themselves with fantastic releases (the Piper at the Gates of Dawn reissued on Pink Floyd’s own label in 2016 is probably the best reissue of this LP among many over the years.) And reissues from the original labels are almost always great. But there are a handful companies, often in Europe where release and publishing laws are less stringent than in the US, that use masters of questionable sources. The Muddy Waters release in the photo on Wax Time Records was most likely pressed using compact discs in lieu of a proper master tape. This is a too-common problem with older blues artist especially, as there were few proper LPs prior to 1960 in a singles-centric industry, so you’re likely to find arbitrary compilations. (That said, I still enjoy listening to this Muddy Waters record.) Stick with reliable sources if you can.
Of course I’ve recently recieved a couple of hip hop reissues from the original labels that I’m not sure about. NWA, Straight Outta Compton on Ruthless and Dr Dre, The Chronic on Death Row. I need to research to see if these were even released on vinyl originally, but instead were tracked direct to digital format, and pressed direct to CD, without proper master tapes. Whatever the case, they sound great.
And as we discussed, there are unscrupulous labels pressing bogus records, but there are also some legitimate small labels with legitimate rights pressing legitimate reissues. Even in Europe. One of my all time favorite reissues is the Louvin Brothers, Satan is Real on the Stetson label.
This thing looks and sounds amazing! Every collection should have one.
What are your experiences with reissues? Ok, back to listening to records…