Top Ten: Boutique Reissue Labels

by Mack Jackson

1. Light In The Attic: A young but fierce reissue label. Founded in 1990, this label has been extremely active and ingenious in their selection of their catalog. LITA’s standards are high and it shows in the details of their product. They also act as a distribution company for other common minded labels, banning together to insure success.

2. 4 Men with Beards: What makes this label one of the best in the business is their ability to offer so many different genres, but they all seem to have some sort of cross section, releasing titles from artists like Otis Redding, Bob Dylan, Stiff Little Fingers, Funkadelic, and De La Soul. Who are these men with beards? That I cannot say, but they do good work.

3. Sundazed: Founded by Bob Irwin and his wife Mary 1989. Bob became well known for his ability to restore the recordings from vinyl records for the CD format. This grabbed the attention of major labels, and allowed them to reissue their back catalogs on the (at the time) new format. Since then Sundazed has been successfully releasing records from the 1950s to 1970s.

4. Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs: Audiophile would be the best way to describe MFSL. All masters are created from a combination of first generation tape and a proprietary restoration system to improve sound quality. Most of their catalog from before 1980 was pressed at the JVC plant in Japan using their top secret compound called “Supervinyl”. The plant closed in the early 80s and the recipe for compound still remains a mystery.

5. Rhino: Probably the most well known reissue label. Releasing classic American rock albums from the likes of The Ramones, Chicago, and Led Zeppelin, their catalog is just massive. Not only are they keeping these titles in print, but they offer custom packaging and box sets, that will make any collector go crazy.

6. Speakers Corner Records: Dedicated to keeping the MPS records catalog in print. MPS records catalog dates from 1920 the early 1980s, with genres ranging from all forms of jazz to afro beat.

7. Music Matters: Blue Note and Impulse reissue label. Consistent in their ways, all records are pressed on 180g, cut at 45rpm, and are contained in jackets designed to perfection, creating a product any picky collector would be pleased with.

8. Plain Recordings: Awesome rock reissue label from the Bay Area. With releases from artists like Mr. Bungle, The Breeders, and The Lemonheads, their records are by no means lost or hard to find, they just belong on vinyl.

9. Numero Group: With over 60 titles to date. This label cares to be known for their attention to details, often times including more than just a high quality 180g LP in their packaging – it’s not uncommon to see a full product including 45s, DVDs, and cassettes.

10. Smithsonian Folkways: Originally founded by Moses Asch in 1948. The label was donated to the Smithsonian in 1987, under the agreement that none of the 2,000+ titles would ever go out of print. The label specializes in world, jazz, folk, and blues.