Sometimes, the second time's the charm. From rock icons to reggae kings — and one R&B goddess of a more recent vintage — we take a look at the latest crop of remastered and expanded rereleases
Artist Paul McCartney
What’s in It? Paul’s first two solo albums of airy pop-rock, with the inevitable outtakes-for-a-reason — some clever, some just throwaway.
Best Extra A tantalizing 25-minute making-of DVD with Paul in the studio — and three fine alternate versions of his 1980 hit single ”Coming Up.”
Worth (Re)Buying? Sure, for the fuller portrait of his post-Beatles work, the remastered sound, and several great live tracks. A- for McCartney, B+ for McCartney II
Artist Paul Simon
What’s in It? Rhymin’ Simon’s first three Garfunkel-free studio albums and 1974 live disc, each digitally spit-polished and graced with several new-to-us tracks.
Best Extra The quite beautiful demo version of ”Slip Slidin’ Away” on Still Crazy After All These Years.
Worth (Re)Buying? Maybe not, given the relative skimpiness of bonus material. Although the studio stuff does still sound crazily well crafted after all these years. B
Artist Alicia Keys
What’s in It? Her career-defining 2001 debut, plus a disc of remixes, live performances, unreleased gems, and an in-depth making-of DVD doc.
Best Extra The revelation that Clive Davis sold Oprah on Keys’ now-classic single ”Fallin”’ before it broke — and got her mouthing the words on air.
Worth (Re)Buying? Yes, for an even achier version of ”Fallin”’ and a quaking live rendition of the Doors’ ”Light My Fire.” B+
What’s in It? A digitally remastered version of the then-underground band’s 1986 album (their first to go gold), plus 19 previously unheard pre-studio recordings.
Best Extra The official release of the demo for ”Wait,” heavily bootlegged by fans for years.
Worth (Re)Buying? Indeed. The demos are so raw, you can actually hear the individual words that frontman Michael Stipe is mumbling into the microphone. B+
Artist Peter Tosh
What’s in It? A two-disc expansion of the late reggae legend’s 1976 pro-weed screed Legalize It — a definite career, uh, high — with a raft of demo versions.
Best Extra The liner notes, in which we discover that a Miami pot dealer financed the recording of the original album.
Worth (Re)Buying? Yes. Particularly since more herbalized Tosh fans may have long ago roached their vinyl versions. B+