Album Review

Reissues & Compilations of 2020 – Writers’ Picks

Recently, our writers each spoke about the new music that has most caught their attention during this challenging year of 2020 (read that article here). Now, they turn their attention to the many excellent reissues and compilations that have also helped to keep many of us afloat in these turbulent times.

Again, in no particular order, here are some of our top reissue picks of the year as selected by our writing team on At The Barrier

Richard and Linda Thompson: Hard Luck Stories (1972-1982) Album Review |  Pitchfork
Richard & Linda Thompson – Hard Luck Stories

Richard & Linda Thompson – Hard Luck Stories (1972-1982)

It had to happen – at last, a comprehensive collection of the (almost) complete works of folk/rock’s first couple. All six of their original studio albums (including a first time on CD for First Light and Sunnyvista) plus live goodies, alternate versions and early rarities galore. All lovingly presented in a delightful boxed package containing a hard back book and eight CD’s.

Read our full review here.

Prince – Sign ‘O’ The Times

The Prince Estate oversaw a huge reissue of The Purple One’s 1987 double album. Containing a wealth of unreleased material (including the brilliant Witness 4 The Prosecution), single mixes and remixes, live material, a concert DVD, a lush hardback book all encased in a delightful package, Sign ‘O’ The Times shows the unparalleled genius of Prince. To hear him work in studio feels like a religious experience. Some of the cuts were kept in the vault for a reason but it shows a quality control aspect of Prince; he only wanted the best. Even the outtakes, demos and shelved songs would still put a lot of artists to shame.

The live show on DVD features a 30 minute plus jam on It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night featuring Miles Davis at Prince’s New Years Eve show in 1987. It’s truly phenomenal. Prince also picks up the drumsticks for part of it.

Surrender To The Rhythm ~ The London Pub Rock Scene Of The Seventies  (Capacity Wallet) (3CD): Amazon.co.uk: Music

Surrender to The Rhythm – The London Pub Rock Scene of the 1970s

Rambling 3-disc collation of the sounds that rocked such iconic venues as The Hope and Anchor, the Tally Ho, The Kensington, The Half Moon and The Dublin Castle in those heady pre-punk days. Ducks Deluxe, Bees Make Honey, Brinsley Schwarz, Brewers Droop and many, many more all chip in alongside stars-to-be Kilburn and the High Roads, Ace and Dr. Feelgood. Mine’s a pint!

Read our full review here.

Skinny Lister – Down On Deptford Broadway 5th Anniversary

It was back in 2012 when a riotous encounter with Skinny Lister at the pilot English Folk Expo (it was Homegrown back then) opened new doors. We’ve been on their case ever since and celebrate five years of what is in our opinion their best album. Words to say? Well sing ’em loud.

Read our full review here.

Be Bop Deluxe – Axe Victim

Cherry Red / Esoteric Recordings have been doing a tremendous job remastering and repackaging the Be Bop Deluxe catalogue and Axe Victim was a wonderful set. Great to hear an enlightening 5.1 mix and another chance to appreciate the much underrated Bill Nelson in his formative days.

Read our full review here.

Fruupp – Maid in Ireland, the Best of Fruupp

The very best tracks from the Belfast proggers’ four-album career, lovingly compiled by erstwhile manager Paul Charles. A veritable showcase for the talents of five excellent musicians.

Read our full review here.

Chaz Jankel – Glad to Know You: The Anthology 1980-1986

Blockheads’ mainstay flies solo. His 4-album sojourn with A&M records collected, remastered and repackaged. Features copious inputs from the great Ian Dury and that phenomenal Blockheads rhythm section of Norman Watt-Roy and Charley Charles.

Marillion - Script For A Jester's Tear: deluxe reissue news

Read our full review here.

Marillion – Script For A Jester’s Tear

We had a Marillion beanfeast in the Spring with the remastered and expanded version of their 1983 debut album along with a Marillo time tunnel trip and a long chat/interview with Pete Trewavas. Happy days.

Read out full review here.

Ultravox – Vienna (40th Anniversary)

A classic if ever there was one. This is not just any CD/vinyl combo. Six CDs and a DVD or a four-disc clear vinyl option that include the original 1980 analogue master, a new stereo mix by Steven Wilson and rarities (singles, B-sides and cassette recordings of live rehearsals) and contributions from band members. There’s also a recording of the 1980 St Albans gig.

Read our full review here.

Dave Cousins – The Boy in the Sailor Suit

Expanded and remastered version of the Head Strawb’s 2007 delightful solo outing. DC is ably supplemented by The Blue Angel Orchestra.

Read our review here.

Rush – Permanent Waves

Canadian trio Rush released a wonderful (if costly) package of their best album of the Eighties. Cue the arguments, or simply read our opinion piece. We even had two ‘Why I Love’ features on the band this year. We are lucky to have been around at the same time.

Read our full review here.

Al Stewart – 24 Carrots

With his acceptance and success in America well established after originally being a typically English phenomena Al continues to use his now tried and trusted songwriting wordsmithery on historical events and musical style appealing to the American market as well as the continued support of his faithfull British fans. This 40th anniversary edition also includes a live performance including some classic favourites backed by Shot In The Dark .

Tom Petty: Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition) Album Review |  Pitchfork

Tom Petty – Wildflowers and The Rest

Overseen by original producer the respected pioneering Rick Rubin this album represents one of the most challenging releases from the late Tom Petty. Influenced by recording techniques used by the Beatles few would have expected Tom Petty to improve on his first solo project Full Moon Fever, but this album did. Home recordings of discarded material and live concert footage make this re-release package great value.

Jo Quail – Five Incantations Reissue

Her numerous collaborations across genres, not least of which has been with another genre-busting outfit Winterfylleth, shows the esteem in which she’s held. Artists and post-rockers who play on the dark side form a patient and orderly queue for her to add some chilling atmosphere to their work. Five Incantations is a haunting album delivered in a beautifully packaged set that’s a work of art in itself.

Read our full review here.

Death Angel – The Enigma Years (1987-1990)

Death Angel’s early years were collated by Cherry Red in a great package that includes their first two studio albums, an early live album as well as a collection of rarities. A band that were a part of the original Bay Area thrash scene (including Testament, Exodus and Metallica), Death Angel owed a lot to NWOBHM and this shines through in the music; but the speed and precision with which they play is superb. Their early studio albums; The Ultra Violence and Frolic Through The Park both fire vociferously and the live energy is captured on Fall From Grace. The band took 14 years to put out another record. This document is brilliant for rolling back the years and banging your head…hard.

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Al Stewart – Carrots

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