I recently replaced an entry level record player I’d been using with a new Pro-Ject Xpression III turntable and have gone kind of nuts with buying vinyl. It’s bad man. Or maybe not? I don’t have many regrets in life but, as a hardcore music fan suffering from mp3 and digital DL fatigue (the sound, it burns), I wish I’d never bought a single CD. Instead, I would’ve done whatever I could to consume music on vinyl because it sounds better and forces you to be a more attentive listener (you gotta flip sides so don’t go wandering off into the foreground while your music plays in the background). So, in keeping with this somewhat rash rationale, I’ve vowed to listen to music on my TT whenever possible and I’ve been replacing CDs of essential music with their vinyl counterparts. Here’s some recent examples:
Bob Dylan - The Original Mono Recordings
I’m a gigantic Dylan fan. I’ve seen him live more than 30 times and devoted a major academic paper to his 2001 album "Love and Theft." So, when I caught this (irresponsibly expensive) mania to replace important records, his body of work was at the top of my list. This box set collects his first eight albums, as they were meant to be heard in their mono mixes, which producers and engineers fussed over for days. These same people would only devote a few hours to the new-fangled stereo mixes, which demanded audio devices the majority of people couldn’t afford until they became more commonplace in the late 60s. So the early stereo mixes were kind of an afterthought and thus didn’t sound that great compared to the original mono mixes. Fans and audiophiles drooled over this 2010 box, what with its 180 gram vinyl treatments of landmark albums like The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, Highway 61, and... y’know something, they’re all important. Every single one. And they sound great.
Talking Heads - More Songs About Buildings and Food
The thing here is, as much as I love this Talking Heads record (and some would argue it’s their best album), I’m just as awestruck by its artwork. “Take Me to the River” was one of the band’s biggest singles and it’s an Al Green cover, which is a sly lure to powerful songs like “Thank You For Sending Me an Angel” and “Warning Sign.” Just a great, great record. But what really catches your eye is the disjointed band portrait on the cover. It seems cool enough until you realize it’s a photomosaic of the band using 529 Polaroid pictures, and then your mind is blown. I actually got to see these original Polaroids on exhibit at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and I was amazed; it’s practically life-sized. Or maybe I was smaller 12 years ago. Any way, it’s impossible to appreciate this cover on CD but with the vinyl, well, you’re at least a little closer to the real thing.
Drive Like Jehu - "Hand Over Fist/"Bullet Train to Vegas;” Drive Like Jehu; Yank Crime
When I first got my copy of Drive Like Jehu’s 1994 debut, I noticed the following, written across the top of the plastic circle: “CD’S REALLY F***ING BLOW.” Funny, it’s taken me this long to really take the message to heart. The San Diego-based band had a short life together and I never got the chance to see them live, but I loved their music and went on to follow related bands like Rocket from the Crypt, Hot Snakes, the Night Marchers, and Obits among others. So, with their compact disc screed in mind, I finally bought vinyl versions of their first two albums and, perhaps most importantly, I tracked down their long-outta-print first 7” on Merge Records, which came out in 1992. Everything sounds mighty and good and I’ve seen the light...
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on Feb 24, 2012