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Legendary Rolling Stone rock critic David Fricke takes a look at the top reissues of 2018…

Petty-Prince-etc

10 Best Reissues of 2018

An expanded White Album, the complete “Blood on the Tracks” and more: the year’s finest archival sounds

Anniversaries inevitably rule in 2018’s archival-release honors, from the new, extended turbulence of the Beatles’ 1968 White Album to the prophetic depth of Liz Phair’s report on love and losing in the grunge uprising. But vaults also opened wide in memorial — Tom Petty, the private Prince — and surprise: the garage-rock Bob Seger; Bob Dylan at twin peaks of emotional torment and songwriting prowess; the turning-point country siren Bobbie Gentry; and an entire, previously unheard John Coltrane session. The year in reissues, at its best, was history come alive, then written anew.

The Beatles, “The Beatles”

The primary revelation in the 50th-anniversary celebration of the Beatles’ 1968 double LP is the 27 solo, acoustic demos that preceded the five months of sessions at Abbey Road. Here is an unprecedented view of the group’s principal songwriters, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and the growing, urgent voice of George Harrison at the point of creation. Three CDs of studio rehearsals and outtakes further explore the innovative, if divisive, energy of the Beatles’ most eclectic album.

Tom Petty, “An American Treasure”

Opening with “Surrender,” a 1976 outtake most bands would kill to release, these four CDs are the late rocker’s career in deep cuts. Early radio-broadcast tracks affirm the robust modernism in Petty’s Sixties roots. Shelved knockouts like “Keep a Little Soul” and later, more personal reflections such as “Gainesville” and “Bus to Tampa Bay” show how he always valued depth and story over a surefire hit. Issued just a year after his death, this set is a life lived in full, more than you knew.

Prince, “Piano & a Microphone 1983”

The artist always known as controlling probably would not have released this album — originally a home-recorded cassette — in his lifetime. But this first posthumous release from Prince’s vault reveals the star who could play everything in a striking private communion of voice, piano and a cascade of ideas, from an early glimpse of “Purple Rain” to the frantic, bluesy and discarded “Cold Coffee and Cocaine” and a stunning too-short cover of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You.” May there be more of this caliber soon.

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