New music need not apply, people. This year-end list spotlights all the killer reissues, compilations and archival releases that came out in 2010. There were a lot, for sure. American heroes Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan grabbed the biggest headlines. The Boss dropped The Promise, an album's worth of "lost" material from 1976. His idol Dylan, meanwhile, re-released the first eight albums of his career, including the canonic Blonde on Blonde, in glorious mono. Every one of them sounds a-m-a-z-i-n-g. Then there's Jimi Hendrix, whose estate finally opened the Reprise vaults, resulting in two collections, Valleys of Neptune and the box set West Coast Seattle Boy: The Jimi Hendrix Anthology.
Some of the most satisfying archival releases of the year came from the mainstream's margins. The recent explosion of rare "world music" releases continues with Pomegranates, a sublime survey of psychedelic folk-pop from hippie-era Iran. Closer to home, the always-amazing Smithsonian Folkways label produced Classic Appalachian Blues, which delves into the mountain-blues music that thrived in eastern Virginia and Carolina in the early 20th century.
In terms of the avant-rock, definitely don't sleep on the sprawling boxed set from Krautrock icons Neu!, a group that is far more influential on modern music than its cult status would imply. Another great set comes in the form of Coals to Newcastle, which sheds some much-needed light on Orange Juice, a jangly outfit from 1980s Scotland that just about every modern indie-pop band rips off often without even realizing it.
Happy new year, and happy exploring!