Not every album released is a new studio album…..but it sure seems like they are! Every year there are a ton of live albums, greatest hits packages, reissues, remasters, box sets, special edition and limited edition releases that flood the marketplace. Sometimes there are multiple versions of these releases depending on which part of the world they are released in!
The one important criteria I have each year for the best and worst albums lists is that the albums have to be new studio albums…..or at least promoted as new studio albums. The problem is that some of these live records and greatest hits packages are quality releases and there’s nothing like getting a really good reissue of some long out of print album you’ve been searching years for. That’s why this year I’m creating this new list to recognize some of the quality non-studio, non-original releases that have found their way into my collection. There were a lot of different releases that I picked up that weren’t studio albums so I’m only going to list my ten favorites. So here are my Best Miscellaneous Releases of 2010…..
Black Sabbath – The Eternal Idol Deluxe Edition (1987/2010): Black Sabbath is one of my favorite bands and the Tony Martin era of the band is one of the most underrated eras of any band. It’s no secret that I prefer the Dio era and the Martin era to the Ozzy era (I like the Ozzy era too!) so I’ve been collecting these Sabbath deluxe editions all along. The original release of THE ETERNAL IDOL was in 1987 and was the last album under Sabbath’s Warner Bros. contract but did you know that Tony Martin wasn’t the original vocalist that recorded the album? Sabbath fans know that Ray Gillen, who replaced Glenn Hughes on THE SEVENTH STAR tour and would go on to front Badlands, did the original sessions. When Gillen left Black Sabbath, Tony Martin was brought in to re-cut the vocals and properly join the band. The original album is remastered and it sounds great but the gems here are the two B-Side singles ‘Black Moon’ and ‘Some Kind Of Woman’. Disc Two is the collectible for fans who don’t trade bootlegs: the Ray Gillen sessions! These sessions have been widely available in traders’ circles but I could never acquire a copy…..now I don’t have to!
Dio – At Donington, UK: Live 1983 & 1987 (2010): As a huge Dio fan, Ronnie’s death in May really affected me, the thought of my heavy metal heroes passing away was unbelievable because the music and the bands have meant so much to me for the last 28 years. With no new music coming from the Dio camp, unless there’s some unreleased material, it’s good to see that Ronnie’s wife and manager, Wendy Dio, is releasing archival material like this live set. Both shows have been cleaned up and sound great, you can hear the awesome power in Ronnie’s voice and both lineups are extremely tight. Both the 1983 and the 1987 sets are awesome but I keep reaching for the second disc for the DREAM EVIL setlist with tracks like ‘Dream Evil’, ‘Naked In The Rain’ and ‘All The Fools Sailed Away’ among the other Dio anthems and the Black Sabbath and Rainbow classics. Disc 1, the HOLY DIVER set, is no slouch either and might be most fans’ favorite of the two but I like the deeper tracks on Disc 2. A great live CD set that truly honors one of the greatest singers in Metal history.
Judas Priest – British Steel (30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) (2010): Judas Priest have been my second favorite band since 1982 and BRITISH STEEL (1980) has been a big reason why. This 30th anniversary set was hard to come by because I wanted the three disc version rather than the two disc and it was definitely worth the search. The remastered album is already in my collection because it’s the same as the 2001 remaster but the reason to buy this is the live CD and DVD recorded in Florida on the 30th Anniversary tour. I saw the show in Mansfield 10 days before this show so the performance is like a tour souvenir for me. There are a lot of deluxe edition and limited edition reissues of older albums flooding the marketplace now and it’s good to see that some of them have the quality bonus material that this package does. My only complaint is that the label put out two versions: this one and a 2 disc without the live CD, it makes things confusing for the fans and harder to find what you want.
Keel – The Right To Rock (25th Anniversary Edition) (2010): Has it really been 25 years since THE RIGHT TO ROCK came out? 1985 doesn’t seem that far away! The Keel reunion and new album was one of the reasons why THE RIGHT TO ROCK got a proper reissue on Frontiers Records. I’m putting this album in this list because I’ve had this album on both vinyl and cassette but a CD version is very hard to find. There may have been a Japanese CD edition back in 1985 but I have no information and the Metal Mayhem reissue from 2000 seemed a little basic, a little “bare bones”, even though it was officially endorsed by Ron Keel himself. The remastering sounds great and it’s cool to get a couple of bonus tracks but I would have like a little more in the way of extras. The selling point for me was getting a definitive official CD reissue to add to my collection.
Jorn – Dio (2010): This album wasn’t without some controversy with it’s release coming quickly after Ronnie James Dio’s passing but this album was already made and ready for release when Dio passed so it was just a matter of bad timing. I’m not a fan of cover songs but I can do a tribute or covers album…..odd, isn’t it? The selling point here was the original song and video ‘Song For Ronnie James’ that was to be Jorn’s special tribute to the man who influenced him as a singer. Then the balance of the album would be Jorn and band covering different Dio songs. What made this one of the better non-studio releases was the tracklisting, Jorn went through the Dio catalogue and picked out a lot of songs that don’t normally make it into Dio’s “greatest hits”. Songs like ‘Invisible’, ‘Sunset Superman’, ‘Push’, and ‘Shame On The Night’ were all good to hear as part of the tribute instead of the usual fare like ‘The Last In Line’ and ‘Holy Diver’.
MainEEaxe – Shout It Out (1984/2010 reissue) & Going for Gold (1985/2010 reissue): One of the things I like to collect is bands and albums from the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) and these two MainEEaxe albums have been on my radar for a long time. These two reissues are great because they have all the criteria needed: bonus tracks, extensive liner notes and credits and pictures. A lot of care on the part of Cherry Red Records/Lemon Recordings went into these packages because everything is here including album and single artworks. What makes these reissues worth it is that all the bonus tracks are songs from MainEEaxe’s hard to find singles and E.P.s…..if you do the research, every song the band recorded is on these two reissues in proper order and the singles and E.P.s are noted in the credits. When you’re talking hard to find records from the mid-80s, it’s good to get everything together on CD, I wish every reissue could be done so well.
Savage Grace – The Dominatress/Master Of Disguise reissue (2010) & After The Fall From Grace/Ride Into the Night reissue (2010): As if the two MainEEaxe reissues weren’t enough, Limb Music takes reissuing to another level with these two sets from Savage Grace. I have had the album cover for MASTER OF DISGUISE in my mind for years from when I was a record store junkie as a kid, and I just recently got around to buying it on vinyl, but I wanted proper CD versions of all the band’s albums to preserve my pristine LPs. You can tell Limb went above and beyond with these reissues by adding in all the songs from Savage Grace’s hard to find demos and the RIDE INTO THE NIGHT E.P. (1987). That alone is the selling point aside from a proper CD pressing but then there are lyrics to all the songs, pictures, extensive liner notes and band history. One of the things I was looking for on these reissues was to see if the original album artwork would be retained because it’s a bit X-rated for our time 25 years later and it is. Image this album artwork on store shelves today!
Triumph – Greatest Hits Remixed (2010): Normally a greatest hits collection wouldn’t get my juices flowing but Triumph always puts out great releases when they have full control. Back in 1989, a greatest hits package titled CLASSICS was released by MCA Records but, by then, Triumph was basically over as far as the classic lineup went and CLASSICS was a quick cash in as the band’s contract ended. There hasn’t been a Triumph compilation since but, now that the band has the rights to their music catalogue, they have created their own. This is a two disc set including a DVD of 14 music videos and the Canadian Hall Of Fame induction ceremony, that’s the selling point because it’s a great package for the price. The music CD sounds great and you can tell that the band took good care in remixing the songs for the best sound. The only problem I have is that some of the songs, when compared to the originals, sound different. I’m not one for redoing the original to the point where you can pick out obvious differences and I picked up on this when I sat down and compared these remixes to the originals…..yes, I did compare the two! Aside from that small complaint, it’s great to get so much music for so little money. I paid $12 for two discs (14 songs & 14 videos), similar packages released this year were much more expensive and didn’t have that much content.