Ace Records: The leading British reissue label, with hundreds of releases of rock, R&B, blues, jazz, folk, cajun, and more from the 1940s onward. Strongest in American roots music -- particularly early rock'n'roll, rockabilly, R&B, and blues -- of the 1950s and 1960s, but plenty of other stuff like old soul-jazz, British Invasion, psychedelic rarities, and on and on. Its website has some entertaining articles by staff members about their personal experiences while researching, discovering, and archiving the music.

Arhoolie Records: Roots music of the most down-home kind from throughout the 20th century, including blues, folk, Cajun, early jazz, and zydeco. Chris Strachwitz of Arhoolie has been responsible for recording much of this himself, either in the studio or in the field, since the early 1960s.

Bomp: Puts out lots of garage and punk/new wave reissues of the grittier sort, under the umbrella of several labels. As far as reissues go, it's most known for the still-active Pebbles '60s garage rock series, which continues to permutate and take on new guises in the CD era. This site also hosts a lively discussion forum for listeners who, unsurprisingly, tend to be heavily into garage, punk, and the 1960s.

Collectors' Choice Music: The Collectors' Choice label puts out a very wide gamut of reissues spanning the pop spectrum, mostly from between 1940-1975, and including some titles that the author has written liner notes for by the Electric Prunes, Fred Neil, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Phil Ochs, Dr. John, Mad River, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Eclection, Tom Rush, Judy Henske, and Jack Nitzsche. The label is a branch of a company that specializes in mail-order reissues of all kinds, on all labels. Click here to read the liner notes that I've written for numerous Collectors' Choice releases.

Distortions/Philly Archives: Of all the 1960s-oriented reissue labels, Distortions is the one most willing to put out the most unknown stuff, often unearthing wholly unreleased material too. This does limit its release schedule, but also if not for Distortions, we wouldn't have noteworthy reissues of unknown bands that no one else wanted to take a chance on, like the Mystic Tide. Its sister label, Philly Archives, takes the same approach to 1960s Philadelphia soul.

Evangeline: A British label run by a couple of guys who used to work for the reissue-oriented Demon/Edsel company. Evangeline will, according to their mission statement on their web site, "specialise in bringing the best of new recordings by contemporary and established artists as well as continuing to prospect for hidden gems among the still-productive reissue and catalogue mines."

Fantasy: The Fantasy label has a vast reissue program, principally of jazz from 1950-1980 that was recorded for the Fantasy, Prestige, Riverside, and Pablo labels. It also, however, has quite a bit of R&B, blues, folk, and soundtracks, plus some early rock from the Specialty catalog, Stax soul from the early 1970s, and more.

Golden Pavilion: This Portuguese label offers a small but growing selection of obscure LP reissues, mostly of 1970s psychedelic-oriented albums from Continental Europe.

Legacy: Legacy is the reissue branch of Sony/Columbia, whose vaults hold uncounted great twentieth century popular music of all styles, and not all of them commercial ones. Search its catalog here, and see what's on its ever-busy schedule of new and upcoming releases.

Normal Records: A really unusual and at times downright exciting label, putting out quite a few reissues of 1960s psychedelia so obscure that it was never even released back when it was made, as well as psychedelic music from Asia and Latin America. It also puts out odd soundtrack tunes, Indian film music, and various new indie rock artists, often with a folkish bent.

Not Now Music: Devoted to reissues of all kinds, this British label now has more than 500 titles, including '50s and '60s rock and soul, folk, jazz, blues, reggae, and more. Of note is their series of nearly 100 inexpensive double CDs devoted to specific labels from rock, soul, and R&B's early years.

Revenant Records: Revenant doesn't put out much, but what it does put out is wholly unpredictable, exciting, and exquisitely packaged. Its recent schedule has included the Captain Beefheart box set, the fourth volume of the Harry Smith-assembled American folk anthology, and a Charlie Feathers compilation.

Rhino Records: The best-known American reissue company, with the biggest catalog of twentieth century music in all styles, strongest in good old rock and roll. Also check out their Internet label of limited-edition discs, Rhino Handmade (see below).

Rhino Handmade: Limited-edition discs, available only through the Internet, of rare and cultish material of all kinds, including long out-of-print albums and previously unreleased sessions. It's already put out a significant find by one of the artists in Urban Spacemen & Wayfaring Strangers , Tim Buckley (Works in Progress , comprised largely of previously unissued 1968 tracks).

Rounder: One of the leading roots labels in the world, balanced between contemporary artists and reissues of trad-oriented blues, R&B, ancient folk field recordings, and some surprises, like old Modern Lovers live sets. Its Heartbeat subsidiary puts out lots of fine ska and rock-steady reggae from the 1960s and 1970s.

RPM: Several hundred reissues of real niche-oriented material that major labels, and even the bigger indie reissue labels, are reluctant to touch for their low sales potential. The focus is mostly, though  not exclusively, on 1960s rock, and mostly, though not exclusively, on 1960s British acts. Here's where you go, for instance, if you want a compilation of Tomorrow rarities, or tracks that Ritchie Blackmore played on as a session man in the 1960s.

Smithsonian Folkways: Holding the incredible archive of the Folkways label, with folk and ethnic recordings from throughout the twentieth century. Has a very active reissue program of stuff from the vaults and some new releases, and you can also order anything ever released on Folkways as made-to-order CDRs or cassettes if they're not in print as commercial CDs. The catalog includes some work by major performers such as Pete Seeger, Phil Ochs, Woody Guthrie, Josh White, and Ella Jenkins.

Sunbeam: An eclectic series of reissues of quite obscure rock, folk, and jazz, mostly from the late 1960s and early 1970s. 

Sundazed: A fine and adventurous, heavily 1960s-oriented reissue label, licensing many fine albums from major label holdings that have been out of print for decades, compiling noted discs of material from minor but noteworthy bands, and retrieving a good amount of significant unreleased material from the vaults. Strongest in 1960s pop-rock, psychedelic, surf, and garage music, but also has titles worth browsing in soul, country, and other styles.

Vanguard: One of the leading independent labels of the 1960s, most noted but hardly limited to its folk and folk-rock recordings, is still active today, mostly in the songwriter-songwriter front. Many of its vintage releases are still available on CD, and you can search its catalog of folk, folk-rock, blues, jazz, and other releases here.

Water: A label whose first batch of CD reissues includes the Holy Modal Rounders' rare Elektra 1968 acid-folk album The Moray Eels Eat the Holy Modal Roundersand the late-1960s Elektra psychedelic astrological concept album The Zodiac: Cosmic Sounds. Both titles have new detailed historical liner notes by myself; click here to read them.

contents copyright Richie Unterberger , 2000-2010
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