Unbiased reviews of new vinyl releases, audiophile reissues, and more
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.
Only in limited situations, such as with some rare Blue Notes, will I review a reissue without comparing to an original. Also, if a reissue does not receive the "Recommended" designation, it doesn't necessarily mean that I don't find it to be a good-sounding quality release. With some records that originally sold millions of copies, the $30 reissue may simply not significantly better the still-available $5 original, such that I'd recommend the purchase.
New music reviews are a slighly different animal. If I like the offering, I'll recommend the vinyl release as long as the pressing is of at least standard quality and the sound is average to above average. If the sound is subpar, you can expect me to advise saving money and buying the cd.
This month Music Matters releases Sonny Clark's Sonny's Crib, a 1957 Blue Note date, with a sextet of session players, most notably, featuring John Coltrane on tenor sax. Recorded just two weeks before Coltrane recorded Blue Train, Sonny's Crib features three of the same players: Coltrane himself, Curtis Fuller on trombone, and Paul Chambers on bass. While there are better dates from Clark--Cool Struttin comes to mind, his Latin-tinged version of Speak Low, is practically worth the price of admission for this disc. In any event, the real reason to have this record is that it's one of only a few Blue Note dates ever done by Coltrane. And there are enough moments from Coltrane--and Fuller on trombone, that portend what's to come on Blue Train.
The packaging and sound are what has come to be expected from Music Matters. Both 180 gram platters played quietly and are packaged in the usual heavy cardstock gatefold cover, which features glossy session photos. The mastering was performed by the Hoffman/Gray team and while I wasn't able to acquire an uber-rare original, I did compare it to an earlier reissue from Classic Records and this 45 RPM reissue from Music Matters delivered a more full-bodied sound, with more low-level detail, from the spit on Coltrane's reed to the wood of Chamber's upright bass.
Mofi's latest offering in their series of Elvis Costello reissues is the 1980 release, Get Happy! This album departed from his previous efforts, as it relied heavily on R&B, soul, and even some jazz influences. Mofi chose to spread the 20 songs over two LPs, using the 45 RPM format. Compared to the original 33 RPM UK F.Beat release, this 45 RPM version from Mofi is more dynamic and possesses a cleaner, distortion free sound that particularly benefits the bass and drum sound that predominates many of the arrangements throughout the album. Opportunity sounds particularly fantastic on this new Mofi version. While I found the Mofi "audiophile style treatment" of This Year's Model to detract from the urgency of the presentation, it definitely works here.
Buy Elvis Costello Mofi Get Happy!!
The Cars are back with their first studio album in 24 years, Move Like This, with ten songs that should go down smoothly for anyone raised on the cool, synth-pop from the boys from Boston. And while the grooves are familiar--with a few Deja Vu moments, such as a guitar riff that recalls the opening to "My Best Friend's Girl," it's little more than a trip down memory lane--albeit an entertaining one. The vinyl is pressed on a very thick slab of 180 gram vinyl and played without any audible noise. The gatefold cover is made of regular weight cardstock and the vinyl is housed in a plain white sleeve. A coupon good for a free MP3 download of the album, including one bonus track unavailable elsewhere, is also included.
The sound unfortunately suffers from a healthy dose of modern mastering, with a compressed sound that lacks dynamics. I haven't yet listened to the digital files, but I can't imagine they sound any better than the vinyl. If you're a vinyl completist, this might be a purchase that makes sense. Otherwise, you might want to save your money and just get the digital download.
Buy The Cars Move Like This Vinyl
Buy The Cars Move Like This Digital Download
Posted by My Vinyl Review at Monday, August 01, 2011