Revinylization

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Robert Baird  |  Feb 02, 2023  |  0 comments
To be a poet is to be tormented. And singer/songwriter Townes Van Zandt's demons were relentless: mental illness, addiction, willful recklessness. He constantly complicated his life and the lives of those around him. Even fans who felt lucky just to have him play their town were unwittingly drawn in, often exhilarated but occasionally aghast. Yet judged by his recordings, he was indisputably a songwriting genius—often sad and confused but gifted nonetheless. The scion of a storied and wealthy Texas clan, he was that rare artist who was compelled to create art.
Sasha Matson  |  Jan 05, 2023  |  4 comments
One of my favorite comments by an actual participant in rock history is from Bonnie Raitt: "I miss Little Feat like I miss being eight years old." That remark was included in the liner notes for the Feat's 1981 album Hoy-Hoy (Warner Bros. 2BSK 3538), which was released two years after front man Lowell George's passing in 1979.
Sasha Matson  |  Dec 01, 2022  |  1 comments
My wife saw me putting on my new LP of Joni Mitchell's great For the Roses album and said: "Oh, our breakup album!" Never mind the confusing details—we're obviously still (or again) together—that's how intense the bonds are for many people with Joni's music: We people of a certain age set the clock of our lives by her recordings.
Robert Baird  |  Nov 03, 2022  |  0 comments
With its indelible Francis Wolff cover image of a pensive John Coltrane bathed in blue, freshly fired by Miles Davis but four months free of heroin, and its confident, accessible music that hints at the genius to come, Coltrane's Blue Train is a timeless jazz masterpiece. The saxophonist's only album as a leader for Blue Note, recorded before his triumphs at Atlantic Records—My Favorite Things and Coltrane Jazz—the boppy Blue Train, which, including the original mono and stereo pressings, had been issued 272 times, remains important for many reasons.
Ken Micallef  |  Oct 04, 2022  |  3 comments
As an aspiring teenage illustrator, I was fascinated by the work of outlaw cartoonist Robert Crumb. His beautifully drawn images offered escape from the redneck southern city where I grew up. I was especially enchanted by Crumb's caricatures of blues and jazz musicians, which were assembled in his "Heroes of the Blues" and "Early Jazz Greats" trading-card collections.
Fred Kaplan  |  Aug 31, 2022  |  7 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.)
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.
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.
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?
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.
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  |  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  |  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.
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  |  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.

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