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

Monday, November 14, 2011

Jethro Tull: Aqualung 40th Anniversary Deluxe Vinyl Edition

The Music
In commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of Jethro Tull's landmark 1971 album, Aqualung, E.M.I. has just released a newly re-mixed 2 cd version of the classic, along with the deluxe version reviewed today. Like many others, during my youth, I went through a multi-year progressive rock phase listening to Yes, Genesis, and the like. That phase included Jethro Tull as well. Admittedly, it has been quite a few years since I've re-visited the genre--and one of the most pleasant surprises about re-discovering this record has been that there's actually very little prog, and more Cat Stevens and Black Sabbath. In this vein, most of the included alternate versions and unreleased tracks from the Aqualung sessions, weigh heavily toward the folksy and acoustic--rather than the long time heavy FM staples generated by the record.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Beatles: 7 inch vinyl singles and T-Shirt Target Exclusives and Giveaway!

As the prospect of remastered Beatles vinyl still remains uncertain, EMI appeared to float an additional trial balloon this weekend, with combo packs of 7 inch vinyl singles and t-shirts showing up in select Target stores this past weekend. The four singles chosen for this limited release were Can't Buy Me Love, b/w You Can't Do That, Help! b/w I'm Down, Hello Goodbye b/w I Am the Walrus, and Let It Be b/w You Know My Name (Look Up the Number). Every title is in mono--except for the Let it Be single, feature the original U.S. sleeves and singles mixes, and are pressed on heavy vinyl.  Each single includes a different Beatles t-shirt, sized either S/M or L/XL. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Cat Stevens: Tea For The Tillerman (Analogue Productions/QRP 200 Gram Vinyl): Is it the Perfect Cup of Tea?

The Music
I can think of several reasons why analog maven Chad Kassem chose the audiophile warhorse from Cat Stevens, Tea for The Tillerman, as the inaugural release utilizing his new vinyl pressing facility, Quality Record Pressings (QRP). It is obviously an excellent recording.  But, what struck me the most after revisiting this classic, was how well this 1971 album has aged. Compared to other efforts of the time, Tea For the Tillerman remains timeless, and carries none of the overly-dramatic, heavy-handed orchestration found on other classic efforts of the day, such as Neil Young's Harvest.

The Pressing and Packaging
One of the differences between the original U.S. and U.K. releases of this record, was that only the U.K. pressing featured a gatefold cover.  Kassem has taken some heat in the past for what some felt were cheaply produced covers, but there can be no such claims made here.  Like the glossy gatefold covers used in their deluxe Impulse 45 RPM series, the cover reproduction here is absolutely top-notch. The gatefold cover is perfectly replicated, with a glossy laminated cover and a textured inner gatefold just as found on the original U.K pink rim release. 

The record is housed in a Mofi-style rice paper inner sleeve, which carries the QRP logo. The vinyl itself arrived perfectly clean and flat, and played with nary a pop or tic throughout. The label is colored pink to recall the original "pink Island or pink rim" design, but carries the QRP logo. And while I'd prefer that they use a full repro of the original label, I can understand the desire that their pressings be distinguishable from originals.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Short Spins: Elvis Costello -- Get Happy!! Mofi 180 Gram Vinyl, Sonny Clark -- Sonny's Crib 45 RPM Vinyl, The Cars -- Move Like This 180 Gram Vinyl

Hello again, from Myvinylreview! I hope everyone is enjoying their summer. There are going to be some changes here, which hopefully will result in more reviews for your enjoyment. Today's reviews should give you a taste of the new format, which will generally eschew long discussion in favor of a shorter, encapsulated style. You still won't see star ratings, but particularly strong offerings will still be rated as recommended, highly recommended or very highly recommended. For those who have additional questions regarding comparisons to previous vinyl or cd editions, I'd like to strongly encourage you to join the Myvinylreview Facebook community and post your questions there--either I or one of many others should be able to answer your question.

About My Reviewing and Rating Philosophy

A bit about my review and rating philosophy: In reviewing audiophile reissues, I primarily ask this question: Does this particular reissue sound better than the original release from the country of origin? For example, with Elvis Costello--does the reissue sound better than the UK original? If the reissue sounds better than than the original, it will get at least a "Recommended" following the review. Where a record is particularly rare, possesses particularly stunning sound, and/or has significantly better than average packaging, the ratings of "Highly Recommended" and "Very Highly Recommended" may be used. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fleetwood Mac: Rumours -- 45 RPM 180 Gram and 33 RPM 150 Gram Vinyl Review and Album Giveaway!

One of the best selling popular rock albums of all time, Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, finally received the audiophile treatment this Record Store Day 2011, with releases of single 33 RPM and double 45 RPM vinyl versions. Though most fans of the record are likely unaware, the mastering for these releases was done nearly four years ago, and has sat on the shelf, pending the resolution of legal-wrangling. Nonetheless, this highly anticipated release is finally here--and expectations, especially for the 45 RPM version, are high.

The Music
Originally released in 1977, Rumours holds a special for me as one of the first records I have a very clear recollection of purchasing at or near the time of release. And over the years, I have acquired it more than a few times on vinyl and compact disc. One of the versions reviewed today is as good or better than any of them--the other, nothing short of definitive.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Record Store Day 2011 Preview and Giveaway!

Saturday, April 16, 2011, is Record Store Day. With more than 200 vinyl releases this year, there is certainly something for everyone--with 33 RPM LPs, 7" singles, 10" EPs, a Seventies rock classic on 45 RPM, and even a 78 RPM 10" set. And while everyone will have their own personal wish list, here's a few reissues that have captured my attention.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Short Spin: John Coltrane -- My Favorite Things 180 Gram Rhino Vinyl

The Music
Rhino continues their vinyl reissue campaign with several Atlantic releases from John Coltrane, including the 1960 classic, My Favorite Things. This record marked his first collaboration with pianist McCoy Tyner and drummer Elvin Jones, who would stay on to record in his classic quartet. The title cut also brought Coltrane his first signature song, and introduced the world to his use of the soprano saxophone. If you'd like to share your love of jazz with your children, grandchildren, or even your husband or wife--My Favorite Things, is the perfect song to do it with.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Rolling Stones: 1964-1969 Vinyl Box Set

The Rolling Stones have just released two vinyl boxes, covering the span of their recording career from 1964 to 2005. The first box, reviewed today, covers 1964-1969, and was sourced from hi-resolution DSD files and pressed at the GZ Facility in the Czech Republic.  I do not plan to review the 1971-2005 box, which was reportedly sourced from lower-resolution digital files and mastered by Stephen Marcussen, who also mastered the disappointing and over-compressed 2010 vinyl remaster of Exile On Main St

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Len Price 3: Pictures (w/included cd and bonus cuts)

Pictures [Vinyl]

If you watched the Super Bowl Halftime Show last night and found yourself yearning for simpler times--even for last year when half of the Who--Townshend and Daltrey, took the stage and played ten minutes of music that sounded familiar and went down easy, you aren't alone. Sure, you're open to new music--but, it really helps if it's good. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Robert Plant: Band Of Joy -- 180 Gram Vinyl

Led Zeppelin's longtime front-man, Robert Plant, is back with Band of Joy, the follow-up to his surprisingly successful 2007 Grammy-winning collaboration with country-folk singer Alison Kraus, Raising Sand. For Band of Joy, Plant recruits a host of Nashville session players, including guitarist/co-producer Buddy Moore, and Patty Griffin, who shares singing duties with Plant on seven of the twelve cuts on the record. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Reissue Review: Van Halen II, Women and Children First, 1984 -- 180 Gram Rhino Vinyl

Rhino continues their Van Halen vinyl reissue program with the release of three more titles: Van Halen II, Women and Children First, and 1984.  Their 2009 vinyl reissue of the self-titled debut, Van Halen on 180 gram vinyl, proved superb--and turned out to be a re-pressing of the now out-of-print DCC vinyl reissue, mastered by Steve Hoffman. One of the primary improvements achieved by that reissue was to bring the vocals and guitars out of the shroud of echo found on earlier versions of the record. One title reviewed today had that issue as well--and the reissue definitely adresses it.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Bob Dylan: Original Mono Recordings Vinyl Box Set (w/ included digital download)

The Music
Following the sucess of last year's Beatles Mono Box Set, Sony/Legacy has released a box set of Bob Dylan's first eight albums using their original mono mixes. Like the Beatles, Dylan's Sixties output--and particularly his all-acoustic efforts, are best heard in mono--as the stereo mixes can be unnatural, wonky affair, with vocals on one side, guitar on the other. The original mono mixes, approved by Dylan himself, are much more focused and are simply the best way to hear the music. 

As you enter his electric era, opinions differ whether the mono or stereo versions are better--but as a listener, you'll be rewarded by the differences in the mixes, especially if you've never heard the mono versions that have now been out of print for thirty years.