Art Dudley

Art Dudley  |  May 29, 2020  |  59 comments
During the years I lived in New York City and environs, I never learned my way around Brooklyn—something I now regret, given that borough's emergence as a hotbed of audio creativity: our industry's Laurel Canyon, so to speak. Such gone-but-not-forgotten brands as Futterman and Fi were manufactured there, and today Brooklyn is home to DeVore Fidelity, Lamm Industries, Mytek Digital, Grado Labs, Ohm Acoustics, and Oswalds Mill Audio.
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.

Art Dudley  |  Apr 30, 2020  |  16 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  |  Apr 21, 2020  |  45 comments
It may come as no surprise that the two Recommended Components issues we publish every year, in April and October, are Stereophile's most popular. Both go hand-in-hand with increases in single-copy sales and subscription requests, and it's worth noting that equipment and record suppliers line up to get their ads into those issues.
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 01, 2020  |  69 comments
In my January 2020 Listening column, I wrote about a place where three things overlap: the joys (and benefits) of being a record collector, the natural tendency to grow and challenge ourselves as listeners, and the need to forgive ourselves for the shortcomings of our youth. The hook was the story of how I started out disliking the music of guitarist John Fahey (1939–2001) and ended up loving it. But it could just as easily have been about cooking or hiking or Jethro Tull or any of a number of other things.
Art Dudley  |  Mar 25, 2020  |  9 comments
I am the world's worst consumer. Not only have I made more than my share of disastrous purchase decisions, I'm also inexplicably luckless: If there's one defective sample or repack in an inventory, it will find me.

I'm also a deceit magnet, and I'm spineless: More than once in my life, I have made abominable purchase decisions solely to please a manipulative salesman or a disinterested third party (read: girlfriend). There is abundant photographic evidence that I don't know how to shop for clothes, my glasses are wrong for my face because I trust the advice of opticians with bad or no taste, and the less competent/more antagonistic the barber, the likelier I am to say "Great job, I love it" and tip them 50%. If I were smarter, I might actually be rich by now, or at least comfortable.

Art Dudley  |  Mar 11, 2020  |  23 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  |  Mar 03, 2020  |  46 comments
The stars are matter. We are matter. But it doesn't matter.Don Van Vliet

Only sensibilities trained on poetry can wholly appreciate it.T.S. Eliot (writing about Djuna Barnes's Nightwood)

In the 17th century, steam engines began appearing throughout Europe and Asia, ushered into existence by any number of different inventors. More recently, multiple inventors conceived and cooked up the atomic bomb, the jet engine, and the solid-body electric guitar.

Art Dudley  |  Feb 28, 2020  |  7 comments
Hi-fi is like cake. Most people enjoy listening to music, and most people like cake.

People who like cake tend to like different things about it. Some people like a flourless cake, some people like a fluffy angel food cake, and some like a cake loaded up with little pieces of carrot and God-knows-what-else. People who like hi-fi also tend to like different things. Some like punchy, forceful sounds, some like realistic, natural tones, some like texture and color, some like "air," and some like to hear things go whooshing from one speaker to the other. It's all okay.

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