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

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.

Big Star Third Test Pressing Edition

The Big Star Third Test Pressing Edition is a special edition vinyl release limited to 2,000 pieces worldwide. The album has been described as a lost record re-discovered years after it was recorded, one that has seen many track listings, titles and album covers. It’s been dubbed a classic, and an enigma. The Omnivore Recordings edition comes complete with replicas of the original tape box, tracking and lead sheets, mastering card and is pressed on 180 gram vinyl.

Big Star Third Test Pressing Edition

This new edition was reportedly cut from the original assembly reel, on the same lathe at the legendary Ardent Studios in Memphis and by the very same engineers--Larry Nix and John Fry, who cut it the first time. It will be pressed on 180 gram vinyl at RTI. In a nod to Charlie and The Chocolate Factoryfive "Golden Ticket" pressings out of the limited run of 2,000, will contain actual test pressings and will be signed by Big Star’s only surviving member Jody Stephens, as well as Larry Nix and  John Fry.

The only recent vinyl reissue of this record is the 4 Men With Beards reissue. While it sounds quite decent,  the prospect of improved fidelity of this latest reissue sourced from what is guaranteed to be the original analog master tapes, along with what appears to be really cool packaging, makes a compelling argument to purchase it again. And while this item may be the number one item for many Record Store Day attendees, 2,000 copies should meet demand for the relatively small number of  hard-core Big Star devotees, assuming Ebay speculators don't buy up the supply. 

Fleetwood Mac Rumours 45 RPM Edition

One of the best selling popular rock albums of all time, Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, finally gets the audiophile treatment this Record Store Day, 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.

Fleetwood Mac Rumours 45 RPM Edition

Mastered by the veteran team of Steve Hoffman and Kevin Gray, both the 33 RPM and 45 RPM editions were mastered from the original analog master tapes--and cut at the Pallas facility in Germany. While almost everyone interested in vinyl has a copy of this record in their collection, it has been re-pressed so many times that sound quality can vary widely, with some copies coming from sources other than the original tapes. With the 45 RPM audiophile treatment typically reserved for jazz and classical reissues, this audiophile edition--with only 4,000 copies to be pressed, certainly has the potential to sell out faster than the typical 45 RPM release.



Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers 
( Limited Edition White Vinyl)

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers the band's self-titled debut album, was originally released in 1976. The album is best known for introducing the world to the classic tracks "American Girl" and "Breakdown."  This package includes one limited edition white-colored vinyl in single pocket direct to board jacket and was engineered at Bernie Grundman Mastering. The pressing is limited to 2,500 units.

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers: You're Gonna Get It! (Limited Edition Blue Vinyl) 

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers' second album, You're Gonna Get It!, was released in 1978. Building on the edgy yet always melodic sonic template created on their debut, this album features the hits Listen To Her Heart and I Need To Know which remain staples in the classic rock songbook. This package includes one Limited edition blue-colored vinyl in a single pocket direct to board jacket and is also limited to 2,500 units.

In is very likely that mastering engineer Chris Bellman, who works with Bernie Grundman, and has worked on the vinyl versions of Petty's Mudcrutch releases, Mojo, as well as last year's reissue of Damn The Torpedoes, will have worked on each of these vinyl issues as well. While the sound the vinyl releases of Mudcrutch and Mojo were both exemplary, I found the Damn The Torpedoes reissue to be a bit unsatisfying compared to the original pressing. 

While the reissue boasted more overall detail, bass and treble extension than the original--which explains why many really liked it, I found the resulting crowding out of of some of the midrange frequencies to stifle the grit and bite of Campbell's guitar, and present Petty's voice with less authority than the original. 

Nonetheless, given Bellman's stellar work on Petty's earlier releases and many other vinyl projects, such as the Neil Young original release vinyl reissue series, I have high hopes for each of these releases. Combined with the cool factor of colored vinyl, I think each of these should prove to be good buys.

Ryan Adams (Double 7" Gatefold EP) 

Ryan Adams releases a limited-edition gatefold double 7” (one yellow, one orange) featuring 4 unreleased outtakes from the Cardinology era. Cover collages have been done by Ryan Adams, with never-before-seen photos on the inner-gatefold and a 7”x7” 'mini-poster' and Cardinals sticker inserted in each package.

Adams has been incredibly prolific over his career, with a relatively small amount of his recorded output ever seeing the light of day. And while some fans have grown tired of his constant chameleon-act, those who have stayed with him have been rewarded with a varied output that changes along with his current muse. If you're a fan of the Cardinology album, you'll very likely want this collectible.

The Beach Boys (Double 10" Heroes and Villans EP) 

Capitol/EMI will put out a 78 rpm vinyl double 10" disc set pairing two Beach Boys’ high watermark recordings, “Good Vibrations” and “Heroes and Villains,” both recorded after the “Pet Sounds” album during sessions for the highly anticipated “SMiLe” album that was eventually shelved. The Record Store Day set will include commercially released versions of both songs on the first disc, and early alternate takes of both on the second. 

This release is reportedly a very nice package, however as a 78 RPM pressing, many won't even be able to play it. If you're content to leave it as a sealed collectible, by all means pick it up. Otherwise, make sure that your table plays 78s before spending the money.

In celebration of Record Store Day, Myvinylreview will be *giving away at least one of the above releases. All you have to do to enter, is go to the Myvinylreview Facebook Page and either "like" the Giveaway posting, or comment within the posting, by listing your favorite Record Store Day release. Winner will be announced the week of April 25, 2011.

*Contest winner(s) will be chosen at random at the sole discretion of Myvinylreview, with prize determined by Myvinylreview, depending upon availability. Other similar prize may be awarded, depending upon availability. No cash value or substitutions by winner(s), please.


banovism said...

2,000 of Third was not nearly enough. To begin with, only 1,000 were available in America. That and the eBayers did get a handful of them. Bastards didn't even wait until after Record Store Day was over to post them.

Pete Bilderback said...

The test pressing edition of Third sounds fantastic. I have the 4MWBs, and I agree it is a very good sounding release. I don't remember it sounding this good though, although I have not done any back to back comparisons. All in all, a very nice set. I hope every true Big Star fan who wants a copy can get one without getting gouged.

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