If you’ve been following the “Flashback ’91” posts over at Popdose, then you are well aware that a lot of classic albums reach their 20th anniversary this year. 1991 was a watershed moment for pop music-the year alternative fucked up the mainstream and killed the hair-band era, the year hardcore hip-hop stopped being urban America’s secret, and the year U2 and R.E.M. went from being great bands to being legendary bands.
Bono and the boys are jumping onto the reissue train with reissues of 1991’s masterpiece, Achtung Baby and 1993’s not-so-much-a masterpiece, Zooropa. While most of U2’s prior albums have gotten the deluxe packaging treatment already, and Achtung (the band’s best album) certainly deserves it, I must admit to being a little perplexed as to who (besides U2 diehards, which I’m sure decrease a little bit every day) would re-buy Zooropa for any reason. That album is one of the classic WTF happened albums in a major band’s history? Not awful by any stretch of the imagination, but while, say R.E.M.’s jump from Out of Time to Automatic for the People to Monster was maybe an 8 to a 10 back to a 7 or 8; then the jump from Achtung Baby to Zooropa was a 10 to maybe a…5? And I feel like even that might be a little charitable.
Of course, a reissue of Zooropa makes more sense than a 20th anniversary reissue of Pocket Full of Kryptonite, the album that introduced funk/rock band Spin Doctors to the world. Someone somewhere thought it would be a good idea to take Kryptonite, expand and re-release it, as if anyone has given half a crap about the Spin Doctors since 1995. I’d imagine the reissue market has slimmed down considerable since the salad days of the music industry, why repackage an album that you can get for less than three dollars in most used music stores around the country? And why subject anyone to hearing “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong” and “Two Princes” ever again? Maybe it’s just because I’m a former New Yorker, but having had to hear that rolling drum intro for “Two Princes” coming out of every conceivable air space in the Big Apple for what must have been two years straight hasn’t exactly worn off yet. I wonder if anyone out there feels any differently. I’m guessing not. I’m sure even members of the Spin Doctors (hell, ESPECIALLY members of the Spin Doctors) never want to hear that song again.
Of course, the reissue everyone and their mother was expecting is ready to surface as well-there will be a deluxe edition of Nirvana’s Nevermind arriving later this year. When the grunge high-water mark hit the top of the charts in January 1992, there was a perceived sea change in the industry away from hair metal (which promptly bit the dust-Axl Rose’s decision to take a fifteen year vacation probably didn’t help) and pre-processed pop (Paula Abdul and the New Kids on the Block faded into the ether, although Michael Bolton chugged along for another couple of years and Celine Dion had yet to truly rear her head.) Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic are participating in the reissue festivities (Courtney Love’s role is unsurprisingly unclear), but the lingering question here is…what can possibly be added to a deluxe reissue of Nevermind that would make it appealing to buy? You’d have to imagine that just about every conceivable outtake worth a damn has been released already (since there have been several notable Nirvana projects released in the seventeen years since Kurt Cobain’s death.) Might there be songs we haven’t heard before? (possible, but doubt it), video footage that’s been unearthed? I mean, let’s face it. The band was only together for a little over half a decade, and it wasn’t a wholly productive time period like, say, The Beatles.
What other albums from 1991 (that haven’t already been reissued) would YOU like to see get repackaged and put back out in time for their 20th anniversary?