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Five for Friday: Recent Reissues to Rock Your Summer

New music releases typically slow down in the summer. It, after all, is festival season, and with kids out of school and otherwise distracted, powerhouse albums tend to be issued in the spring and fall. Which means now is the perfect time to get reacquainted with some older records. We've already seen a number of noteworthy rock reissues, including a massive – and impressive – collection from Guns N' Roses. A few lesser-known gems have also received quality re-release treatment. For music fans of all stripes, here are five new and noteworthy reissues to rock your summer.

Guns N' Roses, Appetite for Destruction
A debut that also serves as a mission statement, Appetite for Destruction remains its era's defining hard-rock album. There was plenty of metal in 1987, but little of it sounded this ferocious, intense, and well-conceived. While Guns N' Roses' don't-try-this-at-home hijinks enamored the media, the album's emotional force is what really endures. Whether the group got romantic ("Sweet Child o' Mine") or celebratory ("Paradise City"), the band was all-in. And recently released anniversary editions of Appetite for Destruction prove revelatory. While aficionados have no doubt been long aware of how fully formed the band was on its opening salvo, the content on the Deluxe Edition drills that point home, collecting demos (including a sparse albeit riveting "November Rain") of many songs the quintet would play throughout its volatile career. Another must-hear gem: The wild, downright frantic "Shadow of Your Love." Various configurations, from a single disc all the way up to a multi-format $999 box, are available. Be forewarned: A little taste will likely leave you wanting more.

Buffalo Springfield, What's That Sound?: Complete Albums Collection
It's hard to imagine a band so pivotal to the evolution of 60s country-rock lasted only about two years. What's even more unbelievable is this Los Angeles-formed act managed to craft three albums worth of material in that short time. Rhino Records recently unleashed a 5LP collection of all three studio albums – Buffalo Springfield, Buffalo Springfield Again, and Last Time Around – including stereo and mono mixes of the first two efforts, all mastered from the original tapes under the supervision of Neil Young. And while Young, Stephen Stills, Richie Furay, Bruce Palmer, and Dewey Martin didn't always get along, songs such as the rambling "Burned" (marked by exquisite back-and-forth vocals) and the slightly symphonic "On the Way Home" show a band in perfect harmony. And admit it: Just reading this has put the opening guitar notes of the protest anthem "For What it's Worth" in your head.

Tom Fogerty, Excalibur
Thanks to Craft Recordings, Tom Fogerty's Excalibur, out of print for more than four decades, will be overlooked no more. Chiefly known as the rhythm guitarist of Creedence Clearwater Revival, the older brother of John enjoyed a sporadic yet respectable solo career. Excalibur is Tom's second effort and possesses a calming, twilight feel. Throughout, Fogerty's bright, clear voice presides over a collection of bluegrass and country-influenced rock. But the vibe remains relaxed and reflective, no doubt informed by the two principal collaborators on the album, Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders. It arrives on 180g LP cut from the original analog master tapes. Of further interest for CCR fans: Craft also reissued the sole solo effort from the band's drummer, Doug Clifford. His album, Cosmo (sometimes stylized as Doug "Cosmo" Clifford), goes for more a swampy, bluesy feel, with occasional gospel flourishes and even a brief Latin-funk diversion. Collectively, the two reissues help illustrate the diverse influences that made CCR so powerful.

Redd Kross, Third Eye
While a 2018 vinyl reissue was exclusively issued to independent retailers, Third Eye stands an unheralded gem worth tracking down. The album represented an artistic leap for Redd Kross, which largely shed the rabble-rousing tone of its earlier releases and embraced a more polished, Cheap Trick-inspired sound in tone and lyrical content. Here, the band seems out to meld punk-rock acceleration with late 70s/early 80s power-pop sweetness. "Annie's Gone" references the 1980 film Foxes, which stars the Runaways' Cherie Currie as the Annie, and rushes to a seemingly menacing chorus only to be lightened with lovely backing vocals. "I Don't Know How to be Your Friend" comes across as the sort of bittersweet pop-ballad that would make Big Star proud, and "1976" gets zany with vocal harmonies and winding guitars – a sonic throwback to Big Star's "In the Street." If Third Eye tames some of Redd Kross' roughness, it once and for all showed the act had pop smarts.

Black Sabbath, Supersonic Years: The Seventies Singles
Here's a box set that, had the band's initial wishes been honored, likely wouldn't even exist. While Black Sabbath experienced a hit in 1970 with "Paranoid," a song that even today feels marvelously fast considering its density, the quartet primarily thought of itself as an album band. Many of its songs, even as they defined numerous heavy-metal templates, failed to conform to the radio-requested three-minute format. So, for a couple years, Black Sabbath refused to release a single. That changed with 1972's "Tomorrow's Dream," a groovy tune in which the guitars course with static electricity. Throughout the rest of the decade, the group relented and joined the singles crowd. Rhino's snazzy set collects 10 7-inch vinyl discs spanning from 1970 to 1978, and includes rarely heard single edits of "Iron Man," "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath," "Am I Going Insane (Radio)," "Hard Road," and "Symptom of the Universe." A crucial purchase for newcomers? No, but if you've read this far, you're no doubt a completist.

July 6, 2018

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