Style: The long-overdue reissue of the 1991, Triple-A-anticipating folk-pop album by the founders of the dB's, with alternate takes and one previously unreleased song.
Worldview: Mavericks "is the album [of ours] that people relate to most easily. Is it because it's more lyrically mature than a dB's record? . . . It certainly is less frenetic and nervous" (Peter Holsapple's liner notes).
Overall quality: A luminously vibrant approximation of what the Everly Brothers might have accomplished had they joined the Byrds (whose "Here Without You" Holsapple and Stamey cover).
Style: The latest re-mastered reissue of the definitive female singer-songwriter album of the 1970s.
Worldview: "[F]our of the songs [King] was writing . . . puzzle out the idea of what, exactly, 'home' is. . . . 'You've Got a Friend' makes the case . . . that friends were the new family" (liner-note Sheila Weller quotation).
Overall quality: The naiveté long latent in King's masterpiece now sounds obvious, transforming the charm into a nostalgia reinforced by the long-ago dates (1973-1976) of Disc Two's live recordings of 11 of the album's 12 songs.
Style: The latest re-mastered reissue of the definitive Southern-fried rock and boogie album of the 1970s, with a second disc of demos and live cuts.
Worldview: Whatever Ronnie Van Zandt's original intentions, his death in a plane crash three days after the album's release in 1977, its cover photo showing the band engulfed in flames, and the mortality-themed hit, "That Smell," have made the music redolent both of fate and fatality.
Overall quality: Quintessential Americana, from its Merle Haggard song and bluegrass-meets-the-blues roots to its defiantly rugged individualism.
Style: A re-mastered reissue of the definitive Australian Aboriginal-rights album of the 1980s, with a bonus DVD chronicling Midnight Oil's mid-'80s, consciousness-raising "Black Fella/White Fella" tour of the Outback.
Worldview: "The time has come to say, 'Fair's fair,' / to pay the rent, to pay our share. . . . It belongs to them. / Let's give it back" ("Beds Are Burning").
Overall quality: A musically hard-edged crash course in the history of Australia's coming to terms with a past analogous in many ways to that of the United States and the American Indians.
By situating the sound and subject matter of the Electric Light Orchestra in a vaguely futuristic time-space continuum, Jeff Lynne sought to guarantee that ELO's innovative blend of British Invasion pop and classical-music grandeur would retain its appeal long after the music of his 1970s contemporaries had become sonically passé. And to a large extent he succeeded-so thoroughly, in fact, that ELO's greatest hits are now among classic rock's most redundantly over-anthologized.
Enter The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra, Vol. 2 (Epic/Legacy), the first ELO compilation to focus on the peaks of the group's generally overlooked 1980s highlights. With the exception of "Do Ya" and "Can't Get It Out of My Head," the few '70s tracks are mainly catchy album cuts, leaving the bulk of the 20 songs to function as proof that Lynne and Co. continued making catchy, sophisticated pop even after Top 40 radio had moved on to New Wave and other stylistic flashes in the pan.