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Year in Review: The 10 Best Historical Recordings of 2020

Our critics vote on the year's top reissues and vault discoveries

Thelonious Monk 1968
Thelonious Monk and (right) Larry Gales, 1968 (photo: Lee Tanner)

For our 2020 Year in Review section, we calculated the top 40 new releases and top 10 historical/reissue recordings of 2020 based on year-end lists by our writers. They were asked to choose the 10 best new releases and five best historical titles—i.e., albums and box sets consisting primarily of music recorded 10 or more years ago. To see each voter’s ballot, go here. Albums and box sets released between Nov. 10, 2019 and Nov. 13, 2020 were eligible. Some discs may have slipped through the cracks, however, as official release dates shifted or weren’t available.

4. Nina Simone: Fodder on My Wings (Verve)

4. Nina Simone: <i>Fodder on My Wings</i> (Verve)
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It may be the most autobiographical work in Nina Simone’s whole catalog, and at times it is an excruciating listen. The 13 tracks of this expanded re-release contain Simone’s circa-1982 reflections on her life: songs of resilience and vitality alongside recollections of deep personal despair and pain. She was a gift to our world, and this refit from Verve allows us to fully appreciate her radiant artistry and humanity.
JACKSON SINNENBERG

Originally Published