The reissue label Analog Africa Records has a slogan: "The future of music happened decades ago." They make a good point: If you didn't hear it decades ago, it's all new to you.
So every year when I put together lists of my favorite recordings of the year, I save a special place for the best reissues and compilations I heard. These albums introduce me to music I didn't hear back when they were made (in the case of compilations of current songs, music I wouldn't have heard right now either), or maybe get me deeper into music I already know a little bit about.
Unlike Ted Gioia, I'm not worried that old music is killing new music. (According to music economist Will Page, less than 10 percent of all streamed music was produced before 2000.) And I just devoted two whole programs earlier this month to my favorite new albums and singles of the year. So two hours of oldies following four hours of 2023-vintage material seems like a reasonable balance to me.
Tune in this week (Sunday December 31, 1:00-3:00 PM on WRIR, for two weeks afterwards at wrir.org/listen, check your local listings for airing on other radio stations, and any old time at my podcast site) for two hours of my new favorite oldies: Music from 1959 forward, all of it released again (or in some cases, for the very first time) in 2023, and all of it excellent.
Without further ado, here are my favorite compilations and reissues of 2023: