Then there was the box set craze, which along with deluxe edition reissues that followed, have mined the archives for hidden treasures.
Listening to a reissue of Elvis Costello's brilliant "King of America" reminded me of how my life has improved -- intangibly, of course -- thanks to having heard some of its secret songs.
So, I decided to ask some regular OnMilwaukee.com talkbackers who clearly love music to weigh in with their faves.
But first, let me ante...
Elvis Costello's King of America outtakes and b-sides spring to mind.
Outtakes like "Shoes Without Heels" and "Betrayal" could have been album cuts on 1987's "King of America" and, if you ask me, they could have replaced a couple tracks on the finished record and make it a better album. "Shoes" first appeared on the UK-only "Out of Our Idiot" comp and has since been on "KOA" reissues, alongside the biting attack on Madge Thatcher called "Betrayal" (later re-worked into "Tramp The Dirt Down" for "Spike") and the curious "Suffering Face."
A bit clunky lyrically and melodically, "Suffering Face" is interesting for its similarities to "Crimes of Paris" from "Blood and Chocolate," released the same year. It also shares some melodic moments with "Worthless Thing," a song from "Goodbye Cruel World."
A "KOA"-era demo, the acoustic "I Hope You're Happy Now" is arguably more simmering and more devious than the band version that appeared on "Blood and Chocolate."
A cover of Sam Cooke's "Get Yourself Another Fool" dates back to "Goodbye Cruel World" - as does "I Hope You're Happy Now," but was first issued on the b-side on the UK 12" of "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood."
The gem of all "KOA" "ephemera" is a solo, electric live version of "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" recorded in New York and released on a promo-only 12". In this version, Elvis lets the audience sing the "doo doo doo" bits that are the song's trademark. Someone please direct me to that on CD!
Cooler King -- Two that stand out for me are remastered copies of Rockpile's "Seconds of Pleasure" and The Clash's "London Calling." I remember the first pressing of the Rockpile album had included a 7" of Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds covering some Everly Brothers songs. These got included in the remastered CD as well as some songs from a BBC live concert, which included a cover of Graham Parker's "Back To Schooldays."
The Clash's "London Calling" remaster (Legacy Edition) includes a disc of music called "The Vanilla Tapes" which are demos of the "London Calling" sessions (recorded at London's Vanilla Studios). Not the greatest sound quality, but an interesting audio documentation of The Clash feeling out and creating the music that would become the "London Calling" album ... and a cover of Dylan's "The Man In Me" which took me completely by surprise.
Dusty Bottoms -- When (The Beach Boys') "Pet Sounds" first came out on CD, there are a bunch of additional tracks and studio outtakes on it. My favorite is the isolation of the single vocal track on one particular song -- "Caroline, No" maybe? -- I believe it's Mike Love's track, so you just hear the one voice. It's immediately followed by all the vocal tracks for the full harmony. Sends chills down the spine.
Sandstorm -- I think "Up To Me" by Bob Dylan from Biograph is one of those buried treasures. The music is almost the exact same as "Shelter From The Storm" so there is no way it would have appeared on any record but a rarities type thing.
"The only decent thing I did when I worked as a postal clerk,
was to haul your picture down off the wall near the cage where I used to work was I a fool or not to protect your real identity
You looked a little burned out my friend, I thought it might be up to me"
OK, readers, time for you to throw in, too. Tell us your favorites.
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 has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.