AAA Vinyl

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Malachi Lui  |  Nov 28, 2021  |  4 comments
(Vinyl Reports is an AnalogPlanet feature aiming to create a definitive guide to vinyl LPs. Here, we talk about sound quality, LP packaging, music, and the overarching vinyl experience.)

Real-life used record shopping is as joyful as it is potentially frustrating. These days, I mostly find used record bins of previous decades’ detritus; however, a recent browse through Asheville’s Harvest Records yielded luck. Following are reviews of three of those finds, plus one used LP ordered on Discogs.

Michael Fremer  |  Nov 10, 2021  |  4 comments
If Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas is a melancholic look back at childhood Christmas viewed through the eyes of the Peanuts gang, Duke Pearson's 1969 Blue Note release Merry Ole Soul is the Christmas record you'll want to play at a hip holiday cocktail party.

Michael Fremer  |  Nov 03, 2021  |  18 comments
Ella Fitzgerald's Christmas album is a secular holiday delight sure to please every listener, even atheists and agnostics. Originally released in 1960, the sound here is warm and inviting as a Yule log burning in the fireplace—once you get past the opener "Jingle Bells", which is somewhat brighter, brasher and more in your face than the rest, though having Ella in your face is hardly problematic.

Michael Fremer  |  Oct 05, 2021  |  20 comments
Everything is true that you might have heard or read about this “off the beaten Tone Poet series path” release.

Michael Fremer  |  Oct 01, 2021  |  16 comments
The gentle, introspective Bill Evans Trio of The Village Vanguard sessions that produced Sunday At the Village Vanguard and Waltz For Debby yielded two years later to the somewhat more rhythmically assertive trio heard on this December 18th, 1963 Webster Hall recording released early in 1964.

The late bassist Scott LaFaro’s friend Gary Peacock replaced him in the trio with Paul Motian continuing on drums. Though no less cerebral and harmonically tuned in than was LaFaro, Peacock brought to the group a faster, more aggressive rhythmic style punctuated with nimble staccato runs. More tapping of the toes and less tugging at the heart.

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 29, 2021  |  19 comments
The Yardbirds original "Shapes of Things" took the protest song—a surprising departure from the group's blues-based output— as a smartly rendered military march with mild middle eastern undertones. Jeff Beck played on the original but here for his first solo outing he led with a slinky, heavily syncopated version that presaged by a few years Led Zep's heaviest of metal. The song's conclusion, a rhythmic meltdown to a complete stop was something altogether new to rock fans. Needless to say, back in 1968 buyers of this record had minds blown, in part thanks to the great Ken Scott's impeccable engineering skills and of course by much of the world's first exposure to Rod Stewart.

Michael Leser Johnson  |  Sep 24, 2021  |  19 comments
Those browsing the classical vinyl reissues on various audiophile websites may have encountered a few peculiar releases from a Korean label known as Analogphonic. The small label has been pumping out limited reissues of vintage classical recordings since 2012. The records are mastered by various engineers in Europe or North America but are always AAA and pressed at Pallas records in Germany.

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 23, 2021  |  9 comments
Blue Note today announced an extensive list of upcoming Classic Vinyl Reissue Series titles launching October 1st, 2021 through April 15th, 2022. All reissues mastered by Kevin Gray cut directly from the original analog master tapes, with the exception of two titles, as noted, cut from the digital masters, and pressed on 180g vinyl at Optimal in Germany.

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 15, 2021  |  3 comments
Vinyl Me, Please in partnership with Sony Music Entertainment's Legacy Recordings just announced VMP Anthology: The Story of Philadelphia International Records, celebrating the label's 50th anniversary with an 8 LP box set cut directly from the original master tapes by Bernie Grundman, plated and pressed at RTI on 180g colored vinyl.

Simon Guile  |  Aug 18, 2021  |  14 comments
With a career spanning more than six decades, Herbie Hancock is one of the most treasured names in jazz. From his early days with Blue Note, to his last release (2010’s The Imagine Project), there are more than a few of his impressive 46 albums that people consider to be favourites. My personal favourite however, is the fusion classic, 1973’s Headhunters.

Michael Fremer  |  Jul 19, 2021  |  31 comments
Run Out Groove Records Announce today the upcoming release of More of The Monkees (Deluxe Edition) cut by Kevin Gray and Andrew Sandoval from the original analog tapes, complete with gatefold "tip on" jacket, expanded to a double LP with the addition of "debut vinyl" rarities.

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 01, 2021  |  70 comments
Seven years ago (2014) Sony/Legacy reissued for Record Store Day a swell version of Paul Simon's Still Crazy After All These Years, mastered by Ryan K. Smith at Sterling Sound and pressed at RTI. It was positively reviewed on this site.

Michael Fremer  |  May 30, 2021  |  10 comments
Some people collect Tone Poet Blue Note reissues the way some people amass baseball cards. I know more than a few Tone Poet enthusiasts who, after buying one, had a Bert Lahr Lay’s potato chip moment and couldn’t stop buying them—at least until they encountered the late pianist/composer/arranger Andrew Hill’s Blue Note debut Black Fire (ST-84151/B0029975-01).

Michael Fremer  |  May 27, 2021  |  54 comments
"La Nevada" means "snowfall" but the opening track of this Gil Evans classic begins as a musical desert mirage of a distant train that approaches slowly, with you sitting on the tracks directly in its path. As the train gets closer (and louder) the repeated simple four bar riff grows in intensity adding growling, snarling brass and reeds drivers by Ron Carter's and Elvin Jones's insistent yet slinky rhythmic drive. Aside from the trombone section's part being notated, the performance is improvised, a highlight being Ray Crawford's guitar searing the left channel behind which trombone locomotive horns warn you to get out of the way, but by then it's too late and the music runs you over!

Michael Fremer  |  May 24, 2021  |  25 comments
Fifty one later Déjà vu still delivers a powerful musical, lyrical and sonic jolt, especially on this newly remastered 50th anniversary set that includes the original record on 180g vinyl mastered by Chris Bellman, cut using the original master tape.

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