Artists Remaking Themselves: Re-Recordings
Many of the geniuses who built rock 'n' roll have preferred to use new technology to refurbish old classics -- perhaps to hear them the way they always did in their head. In the case of Brian Wilson's unfinished Beach Boys opus Smile, this proved a necessity, even with an already established classic like "Good Vibrations." Meanwhile, Gang of Four re-recorded some of their best-known tunes just to prove what they're still made of -- tracks like "Ether" and "At Home He's a Tourist" indeed capture some of the live snarl they lost on their low-budget original productions.
Elsewhere, on Rock for Light, Bad Brains winningly sped up some of their debut's burners, improving on tracks such as "F.V.K." and "I"; and singer-songwriter Mike Doughty recently remade his old band Soul Coughing's "Mr. Bitterness," among others. But sometimes it's simply a case of floating up a lost gem, like when Lucinda Williams slowed down 1980's juicy twang-fest "I Lost It" to fill in a crucial missing piece for her masterpiece Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, or when U2 (with "Sweetest Thing") and R.E.M. (with "Bad Day") dusted off old ideas that ended up becoming hit songs 10 years after they were first sketched.