Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Year In Review 2023 - Favorite Archival Releases

Each year the music industry dips into the past to deliver box sets, live albums, re-masters and outtake collections to sell to the music loving masses (present company included). This look back will round up some of RtBE's favorite archival releases from the past year. 

Usually these releases can fall into the money grab category, not really adding much outside of revenue for the label and (hopefully) the artist. Every now and then though some spectacular collections are unearthed and are worth any price. 

RtBE includes live albums in this category, since they were recorded in the recent or distant past and thus fall into archival release status. 

With the increase in vinyl, and enhanced Record Store Days to help smaller sellers, there are more and more archival releases each year. RtBE are sure to miss a lot of them, but the quality and abundance is exciting. Post your favorites, or any we may have missed, in the comments. 

These were our favorite archival releases of 2023, click the link in the title for full length reviews. 
2023 was a very strong year for archival releases, this list could have been much longer.

Fragments the 17th release in Bob Dylan's bootleg series deals with Time Out of Mind outtakes, remixes and more. Dylan was in rare form during these years, and while the original is still fine by us, this is a strong collection. This is also the first of three Dylan archive releases that made our list in 2023...surprise surprise, RtBE loves Bob. 

Where as it is stated above, Time Out Of Mind's original has always been a favorite, The Replacements Tim never was; it always sounded to muddy to these ears. Now The Let It Bleed Edition changes all of that, wow, this mix from Ed Stasium makes RtBE love this album. The original tapes now sound so crisp and amazing that it just may be our favorite Replacements album now. THAT is what reissues should do, this is certainly one of the best of this year or any year for that matter!

We already mentioned the cover, but this one is a good collection of some lesser known live recordings from the good Doctor.  

A lot of great blues from Kingfish on this double Live album. RtBE caught him on this tour and he is not to be missed when he comes to your town. This double album is amazing overload of blues from Kingfish and his band. 

Is this a live album? A soundtrack? A new studio album?  Who knows? We are putting it here as it sounds pretty live and it certainly was released in film fashion before...Good stuff anyway you slice it. 

As mentioned in the Dave's Picks series reviews, there aren't a lot of MUST HEAR shows that have not been professionally released by the Grateful Dead's team. However, this show, 6/10/73 was one of the classic must hear/own, and it is fantastic, a great single release from the Hear Comes Sunshine Box set. 

Sure, this show isn't on the level of the one above, but wow, this is why this Dave's Picks series still exists. This is a totally different kind of Dead from what most fans think. The one word we kept writing in our notes was "upbeat"! This energetic first set is amazing, then you get the wild "That's It For The Other One" and that's all before the filler from notch stuff that RtBE never heard before. 

If Dave's 48 shows why that series should continue, Big Chief Donald Harrison's Indian Blues proves that Tipitina's Record Club needs to keep cooking as well. One of RtBE's favorite albums ever was lovingly released on vinyl this year. An older album that is a joy to return to, but fear you can see next, currently NOLA is in good musical hands....

Deservedly nominated for a GRAMMY, these guys are one of the best doing it down in NOLA at the current time. This is a great live capturing of what The Rumble do best...get down. 

Miles DavisWhat It Is: Montreal 7/7/83

A Record Store Day release that captures some incredibly funky jazz from Miles during some under represented years of Miles career, the early 80's. Daryl Jones bass is a monster, John Scofield's guitar rips and Miles plays with clear strength. This is a good one especially if you never got into his 80's work. 

A collection of two live solo shows from the blues legend in the last years of his life. The first show is the gem as McDowell is in fine form and talks with the crowd while delivering powerful playing. The NYC is a nice piece of history as it was the last show the bluesman ever played.  Speaking of last shows...

Having attended this show (the last in America from Sonic Youth) it is great to have this top notch night now on vinyl. RtBE has owned a bootleg since that night, so we have always enjoyed the deep setlist and playing from this memorable night of music on the Williamsburg waterfront. 

Dylan is amazing, the original Live at Budokan release might be RtBE's least favorite Dylan effort and yet when they release MORE of it, some how we start liking it?!? That is the magic of Dylan...add some years and space to truly appreciate a different style of his playing. 


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