Every year, it seems more albums are released and made available for streaming than the previous year. Having so much music at a moment’s notice is thrilling, especially as more and more overseas artists get on board. It is nearly impossible to ignore the lure of shiny new album covers, the promise of a new favorite song, the inane attempt to make a small dent in the pile, and the nagging duty to move the music everyone is talking about to the top of the pile to remain a part of the ongoing, unceasing pop culture narratives that define our lives. This can make re-listening and taking deep dives into albums that actually punch you in the gut seem like a distant dream, a selfish indulgence to be tickled only sparingly as time rushes past.
But every year, a handful of albums get remastered or reissued as if to gently tap you on the shoulder and remind you of albums you’ve loved and lost in the Spotify rabbit-hole, of the gems that lie in the archives waiting to be re-discovered or re-visited, of the fulfilling experience it is to spend quality time with music that was meant to last longer than the one-week release cycle. Here are ten of those, because what’s a better reminder of an artist’s enduring legacy than an album that sounds as good today as it did twenty years ago? From the ubiquitous vinyl reissues being churned out like chocolates in Lucy’s factory, to giant, commemorative anniversary editions, to the reissues that put an exclamation point on an artist’s career, to not one, but two of the greatest video game soundtracks of all time, let’s first take a moment in our celebration of the year in music to step back in time and enjoy some old favorites.
James Horner: The Mask of Zorro [Vinyl] // Florence and the Machine: Lungs (10th Anniversary Box Set)
Ayumi Hamasaki: LOVEppears / appears -20th Anniversary Edition- // Yasunori Mitsuda: Chrono Cross Original Soundtrack Revival Disc
Whitesnake: Slip of the Tongue (30th Anniversary Remaster) // The Beatles: Abbey Road (50th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition)
Nobuo Uematsu: Final Fantasy VIII Original Soundtrack Revival Disc // Negicco: Melody Palette [Vinyl]
LUNA SEA: SHINE [Vinyl] // New Kids on the Block: Hangin’ Tough (30th Anniversary Edition)
New Kids on the Block / The Block / Sept 02, 2008
02. Single / 04. Summertime
Despite the fact that I was once so infatuated with New Kids on the Block to the point of collecting official trading cards, a NKOTB reunion did not excite me in the least. Although it’s probably safe to assume that none of the members are desperately seeking to refinance crack addictions (that I know of; my interest in the members’ personal lives lie on the scale somewhere between 0 and 1), like all reunions, it still reeked of an almost desperate assurance that relevance can be timeless.
The boys, once loitering in the seedier section of Generation X are now catering to the fresher demographic of pop’s Generation Y. Picture listening to Hangin’ Tough then spinning The Block and there is no doubt an exhuastive gap looms between the two releases: something happened between then and now in the world of music that has produced the almost ludicrous, abrupt switch from bubblegum pop to smooth, R&B/hip hop, complete with the acquisition of an entirely new language. These guys aren’t from the block anymore, they are from The Block, and they will do everything on this record to remind you that not only were they once younger, but they are now older. And like to have sex. Lots of it. In “Big Girl Now”: “Drop it to the floor, let’s get raw”; in “Full Service”: “I’ll pump you up, up / Cause I got the premium,”; in “Sexify My Love”: “Tonight I wanna’ try every position we can dream of” (not that the lyrics will find themselves into MySpace profiles any time soon, but that’s kind of arbitrary considering emo has a monopoly).
Aside from these questionable attempts at a) recapturing youth (“One Word” is probably the only song to harken to old-school NKOTB, the rest is really just reinvention of the most blatant kind), b) playing the lucky older bachelor types (“Put it on My Tab”), and c) trying to be ‘hood with countless references to the album’s title throughout the entire disc, the sound of the record itself is passable. The songs aren’t so much irritable as they are stereotypically written to please; they can’t be bad (they’re catchy, they’re culturally relevant, and they appeal to large numbers of people [or ladies, whichever]), but the barest, most essential lowest common denominator appeal immediately disqualifies it from being good.
Not gonna’ lie, though; the fundamental poptimist in me is really diggin’ “Big Girl Now.”
♫ Official Site
♫ Buy The Block