Unbiased reviews of new vinyl releases, audiophile reissues, and more

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Coming Soon: Big Star--#1 Record and Radio City 200 gram clarity vinyl

On April 7, Classic Records will reissue two records that fit the definition of power pop perfection: Big Star's #1 Record and Radio City. Recorded at Ardent Studios and released in 1972 and 1974--and virtually unknown until the now iconic September Gurls was covered by The Bangles in 1986, Big Star's first two records have inspired countless guitar-driven pop artists from Cheap Trick and The Replacements, to R.E.M. and Matthew Sweet.

Lyrics driven by adolescent lust, catchy, hook-laden melodies, and jangly guitars defined Big Star's sound and set them apart from the Sixties-era power pop genre dominated by groups such as The Kinks, The Who, and Badfinger. Each record originally sold less than 5,000 copies, mostly due to a bad distribution deal with Stax Records and have only been reissued a few times on vinyl--and both of the better known reissues are either from digital sources (UK Back Track) or digitally remastered (Italian Akarma).
Click here to read the full reviews.

Both of these albums are notorious for their bright, jangly sound. The challenge for the mastering engineer will be to convey that sound without also imparting the harsh, ear-bleeding glare heard on the 2004 SACD two-fer.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss: Raising Sand 180 gram vinyl

Raising Sand Pictures, Images and Photos

Following what can only be described as surprisingly high sales and an immensely successful supporting tour, Rounder Records has issued a second vinyl pressing of Robert Plant and Alison Krauss' 2007 release, Raising Sand.

This Grammy-winning effort from the unlikely pairing of a folk/bluegrass star with the former Zeppelin frontman resulted in much more than the two singing duets together--and at their best, they mesh together so well that their voices almost sound like one. The material on the record is also varied, showcasing bluegrass, country, blues, and even a hint of rock and roll.

Despite my appreciation for the vocal talents of Krauss, both live and in the studio, I find the duets with Plant to be more compelling than are the Krauss-led numbers. Highlights of the disc include a re-working of the 1955 song, Rich Woman, a mid-tempo number steeped in the delta blues. In Gone, Gone, Gone (Done, Moved On) and Please Read the Letter, both duets with Krauss, Plant recalls his roots and peppers his vocal delivery with Zeppelinesque flourishes. And listen to the ballad, Stick with me Baby, for what perhaps best captures the duo's voices sweetly melding into one.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Coming Soon: John Coltrane--Giant Steps 45 RPM 180 gram vinyl

Giant Steps Pictures, Images and Photos

I just finished listening to one of the finest jazz reissues ever, the 45 RPM version of the 1959 Miles Davis masterpiece, Kind of Blue from Classic Records. Long out of print, and mastered by Bernie Grundman and cut at 45 RPM, this reissue of the landmark album brings a highly-detailed, yet never analytical sound with a wide, deep soundstage, quick transients, and cymbals that sound so realistic that Jimmy Cobb takes up residence in your living room.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sneak Preview Video -- Jack White's New Band: The Dead Weather

Jack White, best known as half of the proto-punk duo, The White Stripes, and still on the heels of last year's excellent Consolers of the Lonely from his oft-dubbed supergroup, The Raconteurs, is back again with yet another new band, The Dead Weather. This time, White has teamed up with The Kills' Alison Mosshart, Dean Fertita of Queens Of The Stone Age, and Jack Lawrence, also of The Raconteurs.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Ebay Auction of the Week: The Smiths UK Rough Trade Vinyl Collection--including The Queen is Dead

the smiths - hatful of hollow Pictures, Images and Photos

This week's featured *Ebay auction brings the rare opportunity to acquire a complete set of UK Rough Trade vinyl from British indie rock band, The Smiths. Anyone who was in college or university in the U.S. or Great Britain--or followed indie rock in the Eighties, surely listened to The Smiths.

A Bona Fide phenomenon in The U.K., The Smiths, led by Morrissey on vocals and Johnny Marr on guitar, Andy Rourke on bass, and Mike Joyce on drums, were arguably the most influential group to come out of England in the decade. Morrissey's sexual ambiguity, tales of angst and alienation combined with Marr's organic, guitar-driven sound presented a compelling alternative to the synth-dominated popular music of the day and propelled them to the top of the alternative indie rock scene. To this day, The Smiths still enjoy a steady cult following.

THE WORLD WONT LISTEN Pictures, Images and Photos

This auction includes UK vinyl pressings of the four proper studio albums released by the band between 1984-1987: The Smiths, Meat is Murder, The Queen is Dead, and Strangeways, Here We Come. Also included in this auction are UK vinyl copies of the 1984 release, Hatful of Hollow-- a collection of BBC Radio recordings, singles and b-sides, the 1987 compilation, The World Won't Listen, and the 1988 live release, Rank.

The Smiths originally signed with the British independent label, Rough Trade Records, and all of their records would be released on that label in the U.K. In the United States, Sire Records would release everything except for Hatful of Hollow, which was available as an import only.

While the U.S. Sire vinyl was good enough to satisfy the majority of college students and others wanting copies to play in their dorm rooms, serious fans of the band as well as collectors soon realized that the original U.K. Rough Trade vinyl sounded significantly better. Whether better tapes were used or the mastering techniques were different, the U.K. Rough Trade pressings sound more natural-- especially in the midrange, have more detail, and are more balanced sounding records than their Sire counterparts.

The Queen is Dead, considered by many to be the band's crowning achievement, sounds particularly good, and the Rough Trade vinyl, which is particularly difficult to find, has a full midrange, absent on the Sire, which allows Marr's blistering guitar work on songs such as Bigmouth, to be fully articulated. Add the fact that the compact disc releases from Sire--and now WEA, have never been particularly well received, and there is a compelling reason that the Rough Trade vinyl is as desireable as ever.

The Smiths - Rank Pictures, Images and Photos

Whether you are a long-suffering vinyl collector or a fan who has never quite been satisfied with the Sire or WEA releases, this auction presents the opportunity to obtain the best sounding pressings of the essential Smiths releases. And if you can't bid on this auction or don't win it, keep trying and eventually you'll hear this band like you may have never heard them before.

*seller is not affiliated with myvinylreview

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

U2: No Line on the Horizon 180 gram vinyl review

u2 no line on the horizon Pictures, Images and Photos

U2 is back with No Line on the Horizon, their first release since the 2004 critically acclaimed Grammy-winning effort, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. In their twelfth studio release, they turn out a solid, if at times uneven record, that in its best moments harkens back to the creative pinnacle of their career, the 1992 triumph, Achtung Baby.

The songs on No Line on the Horizon are filled with guitar-driven hooks, but not in the in-your-face style of Vertigo, or Get on Your Boots, the record's first single. If Get on Your Boots is the only cut you have heard, you should be pleasantly surprised as the remainder isn't filled with similar guitar-driven bombast. Instead, The Edge works his magic, building tension in the best songs by combining his signature hooks with more subtle guitar textures that work within the song's groove rather than always defining it. Listen to Moment of Surrender for some really tasty slide guitar work.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

U2 Performs Surprise BBC Rooftop Concert in anticipation of new album release, No Line on the Horizon

In anticipation of their forthcoming album, No Line on the Horizon, U2 performed a surprise rooftop concert Friday night, atop the BBC Broadcasting House in London, England. Enjoy this brilliant performance of Magnificent, a song which many critics and fans alike believe should have been released as the first single. U2 will officially release the new record on Tuesday, March 3, 2009.