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

Friday, May 22, 2009

Short Spin: Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers -- Moanin' 200 gram mono vinyl

Today brings a new feature to My Vinyl Review: The Short Spin. In this feature, I'll periodically cover a record I currently have in my regular rotation, and I'll review it without extensive comparisons to other vinyl or cd versions.

With the recent rush of 45 RPM jazz releases, I've spent a good deal of time with them: listening, reviewing, and flipping. And as sonically rewarding as they are, sometimes you want to get the experience of full album sides rather than getting up every five or ten minutes to flip the record. Furthemore, you don't necessarily want to spend $50 or $60 for every title. With these things in mind, I pulled out a classic Blue Note mono title released by Classic Records.

In 1958, Blue Note released Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers' Moanin' as Blue Note 4003. In addition to Blakey on drums, the session featured a blistering Lee Morgan on trumpet, Benny Golson on tenor sax, Bobby Timmons on piano, and Jymie Merritt on bass. The record starts out with the title cut, written by Timmons, which will get your toes tapping and fingers snapping, and is undoubtedly one of the all-time classic hard bop tunes. It swings from start to finish, and features superb performances from all of the players, most of all Morgan and Golson. The rest of the album features a mix of originals and covers, and while none are as iconic as Moanin', there are plenty of noteworthy performances and no filler to be found.

This pressing is part of the excellent Blue Note Mono series from Classic Records. Like the rest of the series, this release was mastered by Bernie Grundman from the original master tapes, pressed onto high quality 200 gram vinyl, and housed in a premium glossy cover made of extra-heavy card stock.

The sonics on this record are excellent, imparting a wide dynamic range. The soundstage of this mono pressing reaches well behind the speakers, and despite being mono, one still has a very nice sense of the players at the date.

Tonality is what one would expect from Bernie Grundman, and all but those who are ultra-senstive to high frequencies should appreciate his approach of smoothing things out only so much, without significantly altering the original recording style of Rudy Van Gelder.

Low level detail is very good--there is a very different tone imparted to Morgan's, at times shrieking trumpet, than to Golson's rich, reedy sax. And Blakey's drums and cymbals have a realism that propel the tunes forward. Only the piano, at times can sound boxy, which I attribute more to the original recording than any mastering issue.

I have been very pleased with the Blue Note reissues from Classic Records, and this title is no exception. While it doesn't have the last degree of detail or dynamics of its 45 RPM counterpart, this mono pressing represents an excellent value with excellent sound, all-analog mastering, and very nice packaging.

Highly Recommended

Monday, May 18, 2009

Coming Soon: Green Day -- 21st Century Breakdown 180 gram vinyl

Green Day has just released their eighth studio album, 21st Century Breakdown. This latest release from the trio is their first since the highly acclaimed 2004 rock opera, American Idiot, which has proven to be one of my favorite rock records of the decade. The domestic vinyl release of American Idiot was pressed on two discs of 180 gram vinyl and half-speed mastered by Stan Ricker and sounds fantastic.
Click here to read the full review now.

While it will likely prove difficult for the band to reach the heights of American Idiot with this latest effort, I have high hopes for it both musically and sonically. The vinyl is currently only available for pre-order and isn't scheduled for release until June 16. I do plan to review it upon release.

In the meantime, I just found a digital download of 21st Century Breakdown at Amazon for $4.99--and it even comes with an exclusive bonus track. Amazon had a similar promotion for the latest U2 album, and it didn't remain at the low price for very long. While you won't get audiophile quality sound from the 256 kbps download, vinyl fans can get a copy of the album now for the car or computer, and not feel like they're double-dipping when they buy the vinyl.

I haven't listened to my copy yet, but I wanted to let you know about this deal before it went away. During the next month, you can decide for yourself whether you like the record, and I'll plan on reviewing the vinyl as soon as it comes out. As always, I'll give you the scoop on the things vinyl fans care about: mastering, pressing quality, and packaging.

click here for
MP3 download

click here
for vinyl

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Beatles Remastered Mono and Stereo Catalog on 180 gram vinyl -- Coming November 14, 2009

 Pre-Order the New Beatles Vinyl Box Set Here!

NEW: Beatles Revolver Stereo Remastered cd review and vinyl comparison

NEW: Click here to read the Review of the 2009 Remastered cd of Abbey Road

NEW:First Listen: The Beatles MONO Box Set (The White Album) Review and Comparison to U.K. Vinyl

On September 9, 2009, EMI will release remastered compact discs of the 12 proper Beatles albums as well as Magical Mystery Tour and Pastmasters volumes one/two. A stereo boxset of the 14 compact discs will be released along with DVDs documenting each release and a 10-disc mono boxset entitled The Beatles in Mono will also be released.

Ever since the initial announcement, there has been rampant speculation that the remastered Beatles catalog will also be re-released on vinyl. The only new Beatles vinyl available for the past twenty years has been sourced from the 1987 digital masters used for the compact disc releases.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Vintage Vinyl Spotlight: The Clash -- London Calling UK vinyl

Nearly thirty years ago, The Clash released their third record, London Calling. Far more than a typical punk rock expression of rage and discontent, London Calling conveyed political and social messages through well-crafted, intelligent songwriting mated to a multitude of flavors. Ska, reggae, rockabilly, as well as punk influences are to be found on the record. Not surprisingjy, London Calling is consistently found at or near the top of most best album lists.