Revinylization

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Fred Kaplan  |  Dec 09, 2021  |  1 comments
In the mid-'60s, modern jazz pivoted. Charlie Parker, the previous era's key revolutionary, had been dead for a decade. "Hard bop," the soul-and-back-beat variant of Parker's bebop, was running out of steam. The Beatles were rocking the world, and jazz would never recover as a branch of "popular music." In response or indifference to these tough transitions, jazz musicians set sail on several experimental paths. In those first few years, the most adventurous voyages were mapped and carved out at Blue Note Records.
Tom Fine  |  Dec 21, 2021  |  10 comments
Tattoo You is near and dear to me. It came out in August 1981, just before I entered 10th grade, the age when a person's rock'n'roll aesthetic begins to take shape. This album was formative.

I knew about the Rolling Stones mainly through the Hot Rocks compilation, from listening on radio to hits from Some Girls (which came out when I was too young and sheltered in leafy suburbia to understand the urban grit and decadence described in its lyrics), and from Emotional Rescue, which I owned, and which I thought (and still think) lacks interesting music in the grooves to match the cool cover. I figured the Stones might already be too old to rock.

Fred Kaplan  |  Feb 03, 2022  |  2 comments
In the annals of jazz, Charles Mingus—bassist, pianist, composer, bandleader, unique, headstrong, and deeply influential in every category—occupies the transit point between Duke Ellington and the post-'60s avant-garde, a station he carved out deliberately.
Fred Kaplan  |  Mar 01, 2022  |  2 comments
Round Trip: Ornette Coleman on Blue Note is the first boxed set on the label's Tone Poet imprint, and it's a bold move. Audiophiles are not known to be keen on avant-garde music, but Don Was, Blue Note's president, and Joe Harley, the Tone Poet producer, are huge Ornette fans. They've lately been reissuing some other adventurous titles from the catalog—so good on them! Fellow fans should dive into this one, and the hesitant should give it a try, with some caveats.
Fred Kaplan  |  Mar 31, 2022  |  1 comments
John Coltrane spent his final years with Impulse! Records, from 1961 until his death, in 1967, at the age of 40. Those years were his most adventurous, as he sorted through every sound he could create in his spiritual quest, as he put it, to "get the one essential." His range of recordings in those years spanned from "Greensleeves" to A Love Supreme, from ballads with pop singer Johnny Hartman to multiphonic fireworks with alto saxophonist Eric Dolphy.
Fred Kaplan  |  Apr 28, 2022  |  6 comments
Do we need yet another unearthed recording of the Bill Evans trio? I count 22 albums or boxed sets—a total of 49 polycarbonate or vinyl discs—of posthumously released sessions, many of them in just the last few years. But this latest discovery, recorded in Buenos Aires in September 1979, is a stunner. So, to answer the question above: Yes, we do need this recording.
Art Dudley  |  Feb 05, 2020  |  7 comments
Next to Christmas carols, Sousa marches, and the collected works of Bobby "Boris" Pickett, there's no more seasonal music than bluegrass, which comes to life at the 30 or so major outdoor festivals and scores of smaller events that take place every summer throughout the US. As I write this, on the day after Thanksgiving, 2019's bluegrass season is only a memory, and the 2020 season is more than a half a year away.
Fred Kaplan  |  Jun 09, 2022  |  3 comments
I have never written about the ultraboutique reissues from the London-based Electric Recording Company. Pressed in quantities of 300 or so, each title sells out within days (or hours) of its release, despite a price tag of $400 or more. Why review what can't be had?
Tom Fine  |  Jun 30, 2022  |  4 comments
Certain albums stand as monuments because of the influence they had on contemporary and future musicians despite having little commercial success. The Velvet Underground & Nico comes to mind. So do the early Ramones albums. And then there are albums that had just as much influence but were megahits—a much rarer thing.
Sasha Matson  |  Aug 02, 2022  |  3 comments
Those of you old enough to have heard it when it was new will recall when you first experienced the music of Jimi Hendrix. I was 13, in 1967, when I came home after school with a friend bearing an LP of the just-released US Reprise Records pressing of Are You Experienced. My dad had a floorstanding, monophonic record player.
Fred Kaplan  |  Aug 31, 2022  |  3 comments
Steely Dan's last two studio albums, Two Against Nature (2000) and Everything Must Go (2003), are anomalies. The music is stellar, at or near the level of the band's best early work, but it's almost unknown, even among fans. (Back in 2011, one night of a week-long gig at the Beacon in New York City was supposed to highlight songs from these two albums—the program was called "21st-Century Dan"—but the idea was dropped when almost nobody bought advance tickets.)
Art Dudley  |  Mar 11, 2020  |  24 comments
In the January 2020 Stereophile, I described my transformation from John Fahey skeptic to John Fahey fan; suffice it to say, the late guitarist was far from the only musical artist whose work I came to enjoy only after a number of failed attempts. Another was the English band Yes, which I saw in concert in 1977, at New York's Madison Square Garden: I was so bored by the many lengthy instrumental solos, each one remarkable only for the sheer number of notes being squirted at me, that I literally nodded off. (In my defense, it was also very warm in there.)
Art Dudley  |  Apr 09, 2020  |  2 comments
Singer/actress Nancy Priddy's sole commercial recording, a 1968 album titled You've Come This Way Before—originally issued on Dot Records and now reissued by Sundazed Music/Modern Harmonic (Dot/Modern Harmonic MH-8044)—is a period piece. The arrangements, in which strings, flutes, Herb Alpert–esque trumpets, a harpsichord, a Vox Continental organ, and New Christy Minstrel–style backing singers all appear, are somewhat dated. (Indeed, the opening bars of the title song sound like the sort of cheesy electric pop that the producers of This American Life use as incidental music, apparently to express their limitless stockpiles of irony.) And some of Priddy's lyrics make the listener thankful for her poor enunciation.
Art Dudley  |  Apr 30, 2020  |  18 comments
I was well over 50 when I first heard an original copy of Charlie Parker's "Ko-Ko." It was a happy accident. I received a call from the family of a well-to-do neighbor who had recently passed away, asking if I'd be interested in having his record collection. Three minutes later, I was parked near the servants' entrance of their centuries-old brick mansion—how quickly we forget our proletariat resentment when there's vinyl to be had—loading a few cartons of LPs and 78s into my car.
Art Dudley  |  May 20, 2020  |  8 comments
I'm not in perfect agreement with my colleagues and friends who believe that RCA's Living Stereo LPs from the late 1950s and '60s are the best-sounding commercial classical recordings ever made. To me, the Decca SXL catalog outshines them sonically, in addition to showcasing the talents of an even greater roster of artists. But that's not to say I'm immune to their charms.

The RCA catalog contains some real gems.

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