Classic rock vinyl reissues have been all the rage for the past 7 years, with the music labels trying to monetize a lot of the older recordings in their catalogs. Audiophile labels like Mobile Fidelity and Craft Recordings have done a much better job with the quality of the pressings and limited the number of records available. The scarcity of the better reissues has driven up the prices as well; consumers have demonstrated that they are more than willing to spend over $100 for some of these limited runs. I’ve kicked myself more than once over the past 5 years for passing on some of these classic rock vinyl reissues thinking that demand would encourage these labels to press even more – something that didn’t happen.
Another lesson I’ve learned is that not every reissue gets the 5-star treatment; don’t assume that because the label markets the reissue as an “audiophile” pressing, that is offers the best possible sound quality. Labels like MoFi and Craft Recordings go above and beyond to produce records that are worth the money. These 3 classic rock vinyl reissues are well worth the money and I was thrilled to find them.
Creedence Clearwater Revival – Pendulum
In honor of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 50th anniversary, Craft Recordings has released new reissues of the band’s final two albums, Pendulum and Mardi Gras. Craft Recordings is one of my favorite reissue labels for a reason; every single release is impeccably done. From the LP jackets to the better quality pressings, Craft Recordings don’t cut any corners.
The new CCR reissues are no exception. Pendulum was mastered by Miles Showell at Abbey Road Studios using half-speed mastering for better sound quality. The 180 gram pressings are housed in replica tip-on jackets that are both beautiful and sturdy. When you hold in your hands a record that has received this type of treatment, it simply feels like a piece of treasure. Craft charges a substantial amount of money for these types of classic rock vinyl reissues and you’re buying a quality product.
In my record digging experience down in Texas, it has been hard to find copies of Creedence Clearwater Revival records, especially their later albums. It’s always been a bit of a mystery to me given their popularity and my assumption that there are a lot of their records floating around.
Pendulum was clearly overshadowed by Cosmo’s Factory, which was released just five months prior and spent nine weeks atop the Billboard 200. While Pendulum did not produce as many chart-topping singles, the album is home to a number of underrated tracks like “Chameleon,” “(Wish I Could) Hideaway,” and “Molina.” It is also CCR’s only album to not include any cover songs. John Fogerty really let himself stretch on this record, exploring new musical arenas and moving away from a guitar-centric focus to incorporate more piano and organ. If Pendulum (or Mardi Gras) are not in your Creedence Clearwater Revival collection, now is a great time to add either one of these classic rock vinyl reissues. $29.98 at Amazon.
The Flying Burrito Brothers – The Gilded Palace of Sin
A few years ago, I came upon an older pressing of The Gilded Palace of Sin at Antone’s Records in Austin. I don’t recall exactly why I put it down; it was probably because I had a pretty fat stack already, and I’ve regretted it ever since as I haven’t found another copy. You can imagine how pleased I was to see a new reissue from A&M Records this year.
The Gilded Palace of Sin is an album that I have long considered to be an essential record to add to my collection. The Flying Burrito Brothers were originally comprised of Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman of The Byrds, along with Chris Ethridge and ‘Sneaky Pete’ Kleinow. The Flying Burrito Brothers was somewhat of a flash in the pan; the debut album was a darling with the critics but not commercially well received. And they would not be able to recreate the same level of magic on their follow-up releases.
At the time, The Gilded Palace of Sin was a new experimentation of country, soul, gospel and psychedelic rock. Although it didn’t sell a lot of copies, the record heavily influenced the Grateful Dead, Tom Petty, and Wilco. It has cut across generations of musicians with its country rock anthems full of fuzzy guitars, southern-fried organ, and Everly Brothers harmonies. Even if you don’t gravitate towards country music, you just might like this record. It really sits in a league of its own and this better quality classic rock vinyl reissue is much easier to find. $17.99 at Amazon.
Fleetwood Mac – Fleetwood Mac
When I saw a trio of early Fleetwood Mac albums pop up on new release lists, I was instantly intrigued. I haven’t come across these albums from the Peter Green days in the wild, nor have I seen recent reissues. After doing a little more research, I discovered some interesting background about the label and recordings which make them even more worthwhile.
Blue Horizon Records were the preeminent British blues label of the 1960s. They came onto the scene at the height of blues popularity in the UK, releasing music from both British and American blues artists. Undoubtedly the biggest name on the label was Fleetwood Mac. Peter Green and Blue Horizon owner, Mike Vernon, had crossed paths during Green’s time with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, and Green came to Vernon once he had formed Fleetwood Mac looking for a label partner. Blue Horizon would issue Fleetwood Mac’s self-titled debut album in 1968, where it reached #4 on the British charts and skyrocketed the group to success.
Blue Horizon would eventually release three additional Fleetwood Mac albums; Mr. Wonderful, The Pious Bird of Good Omen, and Fleetwood Mac in Chicago. In one of those moments of sloppy administerial work, a paperwork error allowed the band to leave the label. This marked the end of an area for both Blue Horizon and Fleetwood Mac, as the label would dissolve just a few years later and the band would see the end of its original lineup.
Fast forward 50 years and Blue Horizon has returned. The label has been brought back by Seymour Stein, one of its longtime partners, and Matthew Johnson, co-founder of Fat Possum Records. The three new reissues of Fleetwood Mac, Mr. Wonderful, and The Pious Bird of Good Omen are the first of many to come from its vaults with a roster that includes Focus, Chicken Shack, Otis Spann, Hubert Sumlin, and Doctor Ross.
As far as the reissue of Fleetwood Mac goes, it’s a gem. The pressing is dead quiet, and the music jumps out of the grooves. The mix is very well balanced. It’s a real shame that this Fleetwood Mac lineup didn’t last longer; they were one of the most authentic and electrifying blues groups of their time. It’s evident as their original tracks on Fleetwood Mac blend seamlessly with their blistering covers of Robert Johnson’s “Hellhound on My Trail,” Elmore James’ “Shake Your Moneymaker,” and Howlin’ Wolf’s “No Place to Go.” If you are a fan of early Fleetwood Mac or blues in general, it would serve you right to pick up one of these LPs and keep an eye out for what else is to come from Blue Horizon Records. Buy at Amazon.