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Archive for July 16th, 2013

Waxing on Universal’s New Vinyl Project Initiative

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Screen shot 2013-07-16 at 11.24.54 AMOnly in 2013 – a year where vinyl is expected to sell 5.5 million units this year, the largest number since the early ’90s – would Universal Music Group’s new “Vinyl Project” score so much digital ink.

The premise is simple: UMG now wants to take crowd-funded opinions into what titles get pressed anew and stocked through online retailers and local record stores. The goal, according to the new site, is to utilize the label’s “extensive catalogue to offer sought-after deleted recorded to be re-pressed in this great format.” Those who fund will have access to limited edition goods, like digital downloads and personalized art prints.

More details are unlocked for those who take a brief survey through The Vinyl Project’s site. You’re asked your favorite qualities of buying new vinyl (package quality, audio quality, etc.) and which titles, from a list, you’d be most interested in purchasing. (The actually pretty-neat incentive for your opinion? A 20% discount off a purchase from UMG’s vinyl store.)

It’s always nice to see any of the majors – particularly Universal, which has been relatively quiet despite one great, long-awaited box set and a whole bunch of new repertoire at their disposal – get up on that unpredictable stallion we call catalogue music. But, as is too frustratingly often the case, there are a few head scratchers in the mix.

Among the “rare and deleted titles” suggested by Universal include titles by Cat Stevens, Sting, Michael Jackson’s early Motown LPs and Sonic Youth – great records all, but easily purchasable in their current form: out-of-print, but in respectable quality and quantity that these secondhand copies are cheap. (I could be wrong, but as a nascent vinyl collector of a year or two, I thought that was the draw of collecting LPs in the 21st century: getting good finds for cheap with the occasional Record Store Day finds – among the only new vinyl I think I’ve bought – in the mix.) Would you really pay $20 and up for a 180-gram pressing of something you can buy in reasonable enough quality for $5 or less? (Before you answer, consider that another one of the titles on the list is Eric Clapton’s Slowhand, which just came out on vinyl again last year.)

What I’d rather see is either: a) crowdfunded titles that no record company would ever think of (like a physical, vinyl answer to Legacy Recordings’ Vault initiative), or b) keep spotlighting the most famous artists, but put rarities out on vinyl instead – and outside the typical RSD twice-a-year cycle. Putting a rare B-side or dance mix (or several) on an LP and including a digital download of good enough quality would be lots of fun – perhaps an easier way to get stray tracks out into the open than waiting for an anniversary edition of a record to string ’em all together.

As always, the voices that matter most are yours. So what do you think of The Vinyl Project? Sound off in the comments section!

Written by Mike Duquette

July 16, 2013 at 14:04

Posted in News, Open Forum, Reissues, Vinyl

Bob Dylan’s “Bootleg Series Vol. 10” Answers Burning Question: “What is This Shit?”

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UnknownThe Bootleg Series is back.

Almost three years after the release of Bob Dylan’s The Bootleg Series Vol. 9 – The Witmark Demos 1962-1964, Columbia Records has announced a tenth volume in the acclaimed series dedicated to the unreleased recordings of The Bard of Hibbing.  On August 27, the label will deliver Vol.  10 – Another Self Portrait (1969-1971), drawing on the treasure trove of material mainly used to assemble the 1970 studio albums New Morning and Self Portrait.  This new, 35-song collection was previewed for April’s Record Store Day event via the limited edition 7-inch single of “Wigwam” and “Thirsty Boots.”  (For those who missed out, no fear.  Both songs are included on the new Bootleg volume.)  A special box set edition of The Bootleg Series Vol. 10 will also premiere a rare live concert from 1969 with Dylan and The Band.

Greil Marcus infamously asked, “What is this shit?” in his review of Dylan’s tenth album, Self Portrait.   A mix of frankly strange cover versions, instrumentals, live recordings and originals spread over 2 LPs, Dylan told young journalist Cameron Crowe that the intention was to put out “his own bootleg record” consisting of studio warm-ups “just to get things right, and then we’d go on and do what we were going to do.” Prior to the Crowe interview, the singer had asserted that the album was a pointed slap in the face to his own overzealous fans: “I said, ‘well, fuck it. I wish these people would just forget about me. I wanna do something they can’t possibly like, can’t possibly relate to. They’ll see it, and they’ll listen, and they’ll say, ‘Well, let’s get on to the next person. He ain’t sayin’ it no more.’”  Indeed, Dylan appeared anxious to shed his standing as a message-carrying prophet of song and get down to the simple business of making music.  Self Portrait still managed to go gold as listeners wanted to hear what the hell it was all about. Like many of Dylan’s albums, a number of outtakes were generated in the sessions held between April 1969 and March 1970; some might wonder about the quality of the songs left off such a maligned album!  But Another Self Portrait aims to place Dylan’s sessions of the era in context, allowing them to be viewed in a revelatory new light.

Hit the jump to explore the new Bootleg Series entry! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 16, 2013 at 12:05

Release Round-Up Special: James Taylor, CSN, “Blade Runner” Released by Audio Fidelity

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CSN Gold DiscIn lieu of a standard Release Round-Up this week, here’s a look at the major three titles that are out today: the latest gold discs and SACDs from Audio Fidelity. The titles released today are Crosby, Stills & Nash’s CSN, James Taylor’s Gorilla and Vangelis’ soundtrack album to Blade Runner.

The third studio album by the folk-rock supergroup Crosby, Stills and Nash, released in 1977, is crucially different from the ones before – this time, there’s no contribution from Neil Young. (Young had sat in on 1970’s Déjà Vu and 1971’s live 4 Way Street, all the while making a name for himself in the greater rock canon.) In the time since, Crosby and Nash recorded three albums together, while Stills formed the short-lived Manassas and toured with Young. (A CSNY compilation, So Far, was released in 1974.) A perfect fit with the post-Laurel Canyon rock of Hotel California and RumoursCSN yielded a major hit in “Just a Song Before I Go,” a Top 10 single. This 24-karat gold disc version of CSN has been mastered by Steve Hoffman at Stephen Marsh Audio.

James Taylor’s Gorilla sees the iconic singer-songwriter return to form somewhat after the more muted success of the previous year’s Walking Man, which yielded no hit single and failed to peak within the U.S. Top 10, as his previous three albums for Warner Bros. had done. Gorilla, produced by Russ Titelman and Lenny Waronker, featured smooth session work by the likes of Danny Kortchmar, Russ Kunkel, Leland Sklar and others from the famed session collective “The Section,” and yielded a Top 5 hit with a cover of Marvin Gaye’s “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You).” Hoffman also took to Stephen Marsh Audio to master this 24-karat gold disc.

Blade Runner SACDThe film Blade Runner was perhaps too good for its time. Ridley Scott’s 1982 adaptation of a Philip K. Dick novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, was a dark neo-noir sci-fi film, set in a dystopian, overrun Los Angeles and featuring Harrison Ford as a burnt-out detective on one last assignment: to “retire” a set of “replicants” – organically-harvested robots who are near-indistinguishable from humans – who have illegally landed on Earth. Owing to a series of studio-mandated edits and a generally different, E.T.-esque approach to sci-fi at the time, Blade Runner didn’t get its due until the 1990s and 2000s, when a series of re-edits restored the film closer to Scott’s brilliant vision. Owing to the film’s initial failure, an album of the film’s brilliant BAFTA and Golden Globe-nominated score, assembled by synthesizer master Vangelis (fresh off an Oscar win for Chariots of Fire) would not be released until 1994. That album program is now mastered for SACD by Kevin Gray at Cohearant Audio.

All three titles are available today, and can be purchased after the jump.

Crosby Stills & Nash, CSN (24K Gold CD) (originally released as Atlantic SD-19104, 1977 – reissued Audio Fidelity AFZ-144, 2013)

  1. Shadow Captain
  2. See the Changes
  3. Carried Away
  4. Fair Game
  5. Anything At All
  6. Cathedral
  7. Dark Star
  8. Just a Song Before I Go
  9. Run from Tears
  10. Cold Rain
  11. In My Dreams
  12. I Give You Give Blind

James Taylor, Gorilla (24K Gold CD) (originally released as Warner Bros. BS 2866, 1976 – reissued Audio Fidelity AFZ-151, 2013)

  1. Mexico
  2. Music
  3. How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)
  4. Wandering
  5. Gorilla
  6. You Make It Easy
  7. I Was a Fool to Care
  8. Lighthouse
  9. Angry Blues
  10. Love Songs
  11. Sarah Maria

Vangelis, Blade Runner (SACD) (originally released as Atlantic 82623-2, 1994 – reissued Audio Fidelity AFZ-154, 2013)

  1. Main Titles
  2. Blush Response
  3. Wait for Me
  4. Rachel’s Song
  5. Love Theme
  6. One More Kiss, Dear
  7. Blade Runner Blues
  8. Memories of Green
  9. Tales of the Future
  10. Damask Rose
  11. Blade Runner (End Titles)
  12. Tears in Rain

Written by Mike Duquette

July 16, 2013 at 11:14

There’s “A Place in the Sun”: Classic Hollywood Score Receives World Premiere Release

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A Place in the Sun1951’s six-time Oscar winner A Place in the Sun wasn’t Hollywood’s first adaptation of Theodore Dreiser’s 1925 novel An American Tragedy.  The very first film version of the haunting novel came from Paramount Pictures and director Josef von Sternberg in 1931.  But the 1951 motion picture – starring Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor and Shelley Winters, directed by George Stevens – is the one most remembered by generations transfixed by Dreiser’s sad tale of desperation and ill-fated romance.  One of those six Oscar statuettes went to Franz Waxman (Sunset Blvd., Rear Window) for his score, yet Waxman’s memorable music – augmented by contributions from Victor Young and Daniele Amfitheatrof – never received a soundtrack album.  Kritzerland has rectified that, some sixty-plus years after the film’s release, having just announced the world premiere CD of Waxman’s A Place in the Sun.

Stevens’ film, based on Dreiser’s novel but with different names for the characters, concerns itself with the tale of lower-class youth George Eastman (Clift), caught between the affections of Alice Tripp (Shelley Winters), a poor fellow factory worker, and high-society gal Angela Vickers (Elizabeth Taylor).  When Alice becomes pregnant, George takes matters into his own hands, with tragic results.  Waxman was the perfect choice to score this dramatic story.  Kritzerland describes the score as “brilliant,” and “distinguished by what is surely one of film music’s most beautiful and exquisite main themes. The heart and soul of Waxman’s score is ‘Vickers’ Theme,’ and it recurs throughout the score in many guises. It’s a stunning theme and one that captures the essence of the film with sublime perfection. But all of Waxman’s music for the film is sublime – there’s really not much more to say than that because the proof is in the hearing. This is film music as film music is meant to be – not padding, not filler, not sound design – film music designed to underscore the images on screen, the characters, the drama.”

What can you expect on this first-time soundtrack release?  Hit the jump to find more details, the full track listing, and pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 16, 2013 at 10:07