Our rundown of the year's finest archive releases
Either/Or: Expanded Edition
KILL ROCK STARS
Another classic from 1997 received the two-CD treatment. A gently sparkling remaster pointed up the craftsmanship of Smith’s work on the original LP, while CD2 showcased his discreet live virtuosity, and uncovered a clutch of demos and unreleased songs, notably the gorgeous “I Figured You Out”, subsequently gifted to Mary Lou Lord.
9 THE GRATEFUL DEAD
A critical moment in official Dead releases, as the show most frequently cited as their best ever finally went legit. Exploratory but not intimidatory, reverberant with good times, you could understand the Cornell hype, especially on an ecstatic “Scarlet Begonias”/“Fire On The Mountain”. Other May ’77 shows were just as good, though (see: the night after, in Buffalo), as evinced by vast boxset Get Shown The Light, released simultaneously.
Purple Rain Deluxe
The Prince motherlode did not quite materialise in 2017 – “Deliverance”, an EP of tracks from 2006-2008, was quickly suppressed by his estate in April. An official campaign began, though, with a deluxe Purple Rain, featuring a remaster overseen by Prince himself, a live show, and a bonus disc of previously unreleased material. Fantastic in itself, but almost unbearably exciting when one imagined what still remained in The Vault.
7 BRIAN ENO
Before And After Science
Eno’s early catalogue hadn’t enjoyed a vinyl remaster in decades, so the return of his first four vocal albums was a minor godsend. Another Green World benefited most from the upgrade, but Uncut’s writers privileged the last, ’77’s Before And After Science, anticipating as it did both his ethno-funk excursions with Talking Heads and his storied ambient work.
6 NICK CAVE AND THE BAD SEEDS
Lovely Creatures: The Best Of Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds 1984-2014
As Cave, improbably, turned 2016’s Skeleton Tree into an arena-rock spectacle, a delayed survey of his post-Birthday Party career arrived as back-up. Typical of 2017’s marquee reissues, Lovely Creatures told the Cave saga in a variety of iterations; most satisfactory was the 3CD/DVD version, with an intimate 256-page hardcover book thrown in for good measure.
5 THE BEATLES
Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band Super Deluxe Edition
APPLE CORPS LTD/UNIVERSAL
The first deep archaeological survey of the Fabs’ archives since the Anthology series 22 years ago, Sgt Pepper Super Deluxe condensed 300 revolutionary hours in the studio into an essential six-disc set. Among the marvels curated so lovingly by Giles Martin: a new – unrushed! – stereo mix; and a wealth of alternate takes through which the genesis of a masterpiece was painstakingly revealed. Guaranteed to raise a smile in even the most obsessive Beatlemaniac.
4 DAVID BOWIE
A New Career In A New Town
EMI’s comprehensive boxset reorganisation of Bowie’s career arrived in Berlin, and the late ’70s. Beyond the more obvious pair of Low and “Heroes”, a long-planned, dramatic remix of Lodger proved the main attraction. “I started remixing it on my own time [when there was a break in Blackstar], without David’s knowledge,” Tony Visconti told Uncut. “When I had five mixes done, I played it to him. He absolutely loved it and gave it the green light.”
3 ALICE COLTRANE
The Ecstatic Music Of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda
When John Coltrane’s widow retreated from her own exceptional jazz career to an ashram in LA, her music making did not stop. Instead, she and a choir of fellow Hindu devotees recorded devotional chants over swooshing primitive synths, releasing them
on cassettes via New Age shops. Praise, then, to Luaka Bop for finally introducing a broader world to some of the most uplifting spiritual music of the last 40 years.
2 LAL & MIKE WATERSON
Notoriously unavailable for decades, the Waterson siblings’ 1972 magnum opus see-sawed between blackened folk ballads and a carnivalesque take on post-Beatles pop. The original album – with the uncanny tones of Lal and Mike backed by a cadre of folk-rock all-stars – now came accompanied, too, by a cluster of powerfully starker demos.