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

Sunday, March 10, 2013

2013 Recommended Vinyl (Bowie, Beatles, Jack White, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Donald Fagen)

2012 was a huge year for new vinyl releases as well as audiophile reissues, and the trend shows no sign of slowing down in 2013. Here is the latest list of myvinylreview's recommended releases:

David Bowie -- Ziggy Stardust 180 gram vinyl (w/ hi-res DVD): This is an outstanding sounding vinyl reissue, with beautiful articulation of acoustic guitars and bass--and is only missing a bit of the midrange magic found on the original UK pressings, which are expensive and difficult to come by. This analog mastering from Ken Scott rivals the outstanding work found on the most recent DSD Stones vinyl box set--and if you really liked that set you might even prefer this new version of Ziggy to an original UK copy.
Highly Recommended

Jack White--Blunderbuss 180 gram vinyl: This reportedly all-analog release, produced by White's very own Third Man Records, is pressed and packaged beautifully, priced reasonably, and sounds very good as well.


 Neil Young -- Psychedelic Pill (3 LP set): While this set continues the trend of exceptionally expensive vinyl releases from Young, it is clearly worth it for the vinyl collector. It may not be among his finest releases musically, but I thoroughly enjoyed this new material with Crazy Horse--especially the epic opening cut, "Driftin Back." This release was made  on a Universal Audio tube console and recorded on Studer two inch eight-track analog tape, and mixed to Ampex 1/2" eight track analog tape for vinyl release. The result is an organic sound, full of ambiance, and an  crunchy guitar tones that I haven't heard in a release from Young since the vinyl version of Greendale. Anyone willing to pay $50 for a 45 RPM version of a classic rock staple for the fifth time should not balk at purchasing this.

Donald Fagen -- Sunken Condos (2 LP set on clear vinyl): This latest release from Fagen, while not breaking any new ground, does have its moments, such as the cut Miss Marlene, which recalls the brilliance of The Nightfly.  And while this vinyl edition doesn't quite stand up to the better modern audiophile hi-res or analog vinyl masterings in the areas of dynamics and spaciousness,  it does sound very good compared to many modern masterings and does reward repeat listenings--as I found myself repeatedly pulling out this title as much, or more than any other recent new release.

The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (MOFI 45 RPM Stereo 2 LP Set): This 2 LP 45 RPM stereo mastering from Mobile Fidelity has a degree of realism and lack of grain that I had yet to hear from any other pressing of this title. That said, I still prefer the mono presentation, which is considerably more natural than the vocal/guitar stereo split. However, if you are a fan of this record and have a mono switch on your preamp, you can depress it and have the best of both worlds. 

The Beatles -- Revolver (180 gram remastered vinyl): The 2012 Beatles domestic vinyl remasterings pressed at the Rainbo Records plant in Canoga Park, CA, have garnered quite a bit of controversy since their release in November. And because there have been so many reports of pressing irregularities, I cannot recommend them at this point. That said, I wold like to pass along my thoughts on the copy of Revolver I received, which was pressed by Rainbo.  The copy I received was beautifully pressed and felt to be all of its stated 180 gram weight. It was flat, contained no visible markings, and played silently from start to finish. In other words, my copy had no pressing issues to speak of. As for the sound, it lacks the ambience and realism of a yellow and black label tube cut original--and for that reason, I would never play it over one of my stereo originals. That said, this 24/44 digital mastering does boast a cleaner presentation with less distortion, increased  bass response, and better dynamics than the two-box "blue box" copy I compared it to.


Anonymous said...

The Beatles 2012 pressings will go down as some of the best ever. I have purchased all of them and have had ZERO issues and I consider these my go-to copies and I own many by The Beatles. The sound on most every single album is spectacular.

Anonymous said...

The Bowie Ziggy reissue was mastered by Ray Staff not Ken Scott (the original producer) as stated. Entirely agree with the other comments made on SQ. One of the best reissues I have purchased.

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