The vinyl revival seems to be continuing at quite a pace if the number of new and re-releases are anything to go by – I am struggling to remember a year like it and can’t help wondering when the bubble will burst. Anyway I thought I would pick out some of the highlights and pass on my observations in case you missed some of them.
The how it should be done award for a major label goes to The Beatles LP’s in Mono cut from the Analogue Masters at Abbey Road – not the digital copies used for the mono CD issue of a few years ago or like used for the stereo releases – and with special care taken on the sleeves and labels – what I have heard of them they sound great – 10 out 10.
Another award to Universal Music. Back in the summer Island Records, in the Back to Black series did themselves proud with their re-release of 4 ” folk” albums from the late ’60’s and early ’70’s mastered from the Original Analogue Tapes, and very nicely presented. I think they sound really good (but do not have originals to compare them to). Even the 3rd re-release in as many years of the brilliant solid gold classic I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight is welcome (the other two were by Simply Vinyl – presented with the back cover missing the credits and then a US RTI pressed Wax Cathedral issue).
Well Analogue Productions are revamping some of the RCA Living Stereo titles previously issued by Classic Records, Hi-Q are still issuing records and then there have been some UM Box Sets, but the releases that caught my eye have been; the Berliner Philharmoniker and London Philharmonic ventures into vinyl with a box set apiece, Deutsche Gramophone have released some new recordings on vinyl. And the Electric Recording Company have released 5 more of their stunning lp’s.
And then there is Isang Enders recording of the Bach Cello Concertos for Berlin Classics – OK, OK, it is a digital recording but I just like the way this young man plays the concertos – so full of life – quite a comparison to the highly rated Janos Starker set on Speakers Corner/Mercury Living Presence which I found a bit drab and cloying.
Well my main Jazz focus in 2014 was John Coltrane’s Impulse years and so my pick of the year is the Resonance Records release of JC recorded on 11th November 1966 and issued as Offering: Live at Temple University (recorded not a week before Joni Mitchell played at Temple and captured as Live at the 2nd Fret – and just 6 weeks after JC’s 40th birthday). Please note the sound quality is limited – don’t expect HiQ Audio – but it succeeds where some of the Dylan 50th 1964 box didn’t – is it the cleverness in mastering?
But for re-releases Music Matters have completed their first run of titles at 33.3rpm to much acclaim; AP continue their trawl of the Prestige catalogue while ECM have also been delving into the back catalogue and issuing new vinyl editions.
Blue Note have been very impressive celebrating 75 years by digitally archiving and making countless vinyl re-issues at reasonable cost from the new masters (untried).
Similarily Back to Black have also been delving back to their 50’s and 60’s catalogues.
The archive delving award
This must go to the Bob Dylan Bootleg Series Volume 11; The Basement Tapes. Frustrating if you want the the vinyl edition and the complete Basement Tape recordings. As essential as the Smile set from a couple of years ago. And much better than the disappointing copyright saving 1964 50th Anniversary Set.
The mail order only award
This has to be the glorious Vault release from Third Man Records of the manic Jack White, Live at Bonnaroo (2014) – still can’t quite work out why I like him…..
Asylum/Warner Brothers/Sire are still sneaking out some re-issue gems, cut by Chris Bellman, and issued at a reasonable price while you are not looking – I noticed them filling gaps in their Talking Heads vinyl catalogue, an Otis Redding release, the two Reprise Gram Parson’s albums as well as Joni Mitchell’s Hejira and 5 or 6 Eagles albums recently. Oh and the second Neil Young studio archive box appeared – lp’s 5 to 8 - Time Fades Away, On The Beach, Tonights The Night and Zuma. And I almost forgot a rather fine Captain Beefheart Box – Sun Zoom Spark 1970-1972 to sit alongside the reissued Apostrophe (Zappa).
Parlophone sneaked out the 3 Harvest label Syd Barret lp’s – Barrett, The Madcap Laughs and Opel and they sound really good to my ears!
Early in the year there was the lovely lp by the Haden Triplets – daughters of jazz bassist Charlie Haden (who sadly passed away in 2014) – produced by Ry Cooder – and issued on Third Man Records.
And the list goes on and on……
- the expanded versions of the first 5 Led Zeppelin lp’s
- an 8 lp box set of Deep Purple’s Made in Japan
- a 4 lp box set of Queen at the Rainbow
- a box of the the first 7 Springsteen lp’s
- 2 more Grateful Dead Live RSD Releases and Two from the Vault (a Kevin Gray cut)
- Miles Davis Bootleg Series 3 – Live at the Fillmore
- Mo-Fi continue their 3D programme (Dylan, Davis and Dead)
- a Cream box set……….
And this is not to mention current music, soul, reggae and other genres I know little about……
Nor the impending Beach Boys Analogue Productions collection hitting this side of the Atlantic.