Are you feeling a little disillusioned with today's music? Do you turn on the radio and hear nothing that catches your ear?
Well, luckily for you, the CD reissue revolution continues unabated. The major benefit of CDs to music lovers (besides their portability and fidelity) is that almost immediately upon their introduction record companies began reissuing long out-of-print music.
Here is a guide to some of the best of the recent reissues...
Joe Jackson -- A&M replaces their low-budget versions of Jackson's two breakthrough New Wave pop discs, "Look Sharp!" and "I'm the Man," with similarly low-priced versions but of much better quality. These discs feature enhanced packaging with photos, lyrics and essays and "Look Sharp!" -- the brilliant 1979 debut -- gets two rare b-sides added and there's one extra track on 1980's "I'm the Man."
David Bowie -- Virgin is dishing up a pair of Bowie treasures on Sept. 11. First is the soundtrack to "Christiane F." available on CD for the first time. The film's music included Bowie tracks from "Station to Station," "Low," "Heroes," "Lodger," and "Stage." But some of the versions differ from those on these albums and are quite rare. The other disc, "All Saints," collects ambient instrumentals from 1977-'99 that Bowie put on CD as a Christmas gift for friends. This disc differs somewhat from Bowie's private version, but makes available some sought-after sounds.
Dean Martin -- Dino was well-loved for his Italian-themed songs and Capitol issued albums to capitalize this during the pinnacle of the crooner's career. But now there's a single disc, "Italian Love Songs" (Capitol), that collects 18 tracks, including "Arrivederci Roma," "Come Back to Sorrento" and, of course, "That's Amore."
Darker Than Blue -- This 18-track set is the latest from Britain's Blood & Fire reggae reissue outfit, funded by Mick Hucknall of Simply Red. BAF does a brilliant job unearthing, remastering and packaging the great Jamaican music of the 1970s and this set is no exception. Taking its cue from the recent "Studio One Soul" set, "Darker Than Blue" charts Jamaican remakes of American soul classics like "Ain't No Sunshine" and "I'm Your Puppet." But, these are just remakes, they are reinventions with killer riddims and great vocal performances by the likes of Delroy Wilson, Freddie McGregor, Ken Boothe and others.
Syd Barrett -- The edgy genius behind the first two quirky Pink Floyd discs, Syd Barrett has attained an enviable rock and roll mystique, although it came at a high price. Though die-hard fans won't find much here when compared to the multi-disc box set of a decade ago, the casual fan and neophyte will find plenty to discover in these songs collected from Barrett's two solo discs. There's also a previously unreleased track, "Bob Dylan Blues."
Italian Treasury -- Rounder Records dishes up two more installments in its ongoing program of reissuing the 1950s Italian field recordings of legendary musicologists Alan Lomax and Diego Carpitella. The latest sets focus on songs recorded in Abruzzo and Emilia-Romagna. Each new disc reminds us of the diversity and grass roots musicality of Italian culture. Brilliant stuff.
Blondie -- One of the biggest bands to emerge from New York's Bowery punk scene of the mid-'70s, Debbie Harry's Blondie was, undeniably, a mixed bag. For every great tune there were a few duds. This is reinforced by the lovely reissues of all of the group's discs with great booklets (with insightful essays) and bonus tracks. With 20/20 hindsight, it appears that "Eat to the Beat" was their only great album, with "Parallel Lines" coming a close second. Earlier discs like "Blondie" and "Plastic Letters" were toploaded with girl group rewrites and "Autoamerican" and "The Hunter" have "sell-out" written all over them.
Jackson 5 -- In this age of the boy band it's good to be reminded of the candy-striped work of Indiana's Jackson 5. Motown makes it easy now with the group's 10 LPs collected on five beautiful discs. There are bonus tracks, release info, essays, lots of photos and an attractive modern design. Although often forced to record absolute crap -- their debut album opens with a version of "Zip A Dee Doo Dah" -- Michael and his brothers also created some of the most infectious pop music of the era. Witness "ABC," "The Love You Save," "I Want You Back," "Dancing Machine" and "I'll Be There." Top that N'Sync.
Calypso -- Since Eddy Grant's ICE label began reissuing classic calpyso tracks on CD a decade ago or more, I've been hooked on vintage Trinidadian music and Rounder Select's "Shango, Shouter & Obeah: Supernatural Calypso from Trinidad 1834-1940" fits the bill to a tee. Wonderfully named fellas like The Caresser, The Lion, King Radio, The Growler, Lord Executor and Attila the Hun salute the religion and black arts of the Caribbean in 26 tunes. Unbeatable.
Bob Marley -- Island is making its way through Bob Marley & the Wailers' '70s discs, bolstering the somewhat shoddy original CDs with augmented artwork and bonus tracks. As is the case with many such reissue programs, folks who bought the first round of discs won't be happy to replace them, but it's worth it as the discs from 1973's "Catch a Fire" to the posthumous "Confrontation" comprise one of the great bodies of work in modern popular music. The only one missing at the moment is 1977s "Exodus," which will get the "deluxe" treatment (a la "Catch a Fire") later this year.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.