Tom Waits, the Pretenders, and More Miles on Mobile Fidelity Vinyl

Vinyl has made such a strong return that even I’m surprised. I’ve kept the LP faith for more than 25 years, during which time the format has often been declared dead. Hip-hop probably did its part to help keep vinyl alive, and people like me -- baby boomers who began collecting vinyl in the 1960s -- kept at it. We bought LPs both old and new, while reissue labels and the few surviving pressing plants made sure we’d have new vinyl to add to our collections.

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ECM Records, More Vital and Innovative than Ever

Every jazz fan who grew up in the 1970s knows ECM Records, the German record label that Manfred Eicher established in Munich in 1969. Its first release, Free At Last, was by American jazz pianist Mal Waldron, and in the years since, Editions of Contemporary Music has released music by many other American jazz musicians, including Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, and Jack DeJohnette.

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Intervention Records Reissues Three Joe Jackson LPs

When many of us bought Joe Jackson’s debut album, Look Sharp!, in 1979, we couldn’t have anticipated that it would be the first of a career that has turned out to be noteworthy for its ambition and variety. Like the two musicians to whom he’s often compared, Elvis Costello and Graham Parker, Jackson has a firm grasp of pop styles, from garage rock to Motown, and presents them with raw passion and precision.

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Intervention Records Reissues Everclear and Stealers Wheel on Vinyl

Intervention Records, which reissues carefully remastered albums on high-quality vinyl, has a very informative website, but my question for the label’s founder, Shane Buettner, wasn’t answered there: Why Everclear?

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Is It Just Me, or Are CDs Too Loud?

It’s not exactly news to readers of SoundStage! Hi-Fi that audiophiles are unhappy with the way recorded music sometimes sounds. I’ve reviewed discs by the Black Keys and My Morning Jacket that I liked musically, but found disappointing sonically. As with any aesthetic experience, how we react to a recording is subjective. Some audiophiles didn’t like the sound of Tom Petty’s Mojo. I found it within acceptable bounds for a rock’n’roll recording, where impact and sizzle are part of the experience.

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MPS Records Reissues George Duke on Vinyl

When George Duke died of leukemia in 2013, at age 67, he left behind a large and varied musical legacy. He led almost 40 sessions and was a sideman on many others, including 18 Frank Zappa releases and records by Al Jarreau and Jean-Luc Ponty. While I would have expected to see his name on LPs by drummer Billy Cobham, I was surprised to find him listed on recordings by Michael Jackson (Off the Wall) and Deniece Williams (Let’s Hear It for the Boy).

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Analogue Productions Reissues Jeff Beck, Herbie Hancock, and Nina Simone

Nothing pleases me more than when an audiophile label reissues titles that deserve careful treatment. Analogue Productions has long produced new versions of records that deserve to be heard at their best, such as its reissues of classic albums from RCA Living Stereo, Prestige, and Blue Note, but sometimes AP goes off in less predictable directions. These three albums were long overdue for the careful remastering and pressing that make Analogue Productions such a great label.

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Ozella Redux

These days, it’s not easy for an independent record label to get traction, especially if it’s devoted to an art form with a shrinking audience. German label Ozella Music focuses mainly on jazz by European musicians, although, as I noted in a previous article, the label’s eclectic roster includes world music, blues, and other genres. Ozella’s releases are well recorded and feature striking cover art, so it puzzles me that it hasn’t made an impact on the US market that a similar German label has: ECM.

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Trackin' HDtracks

It makes sense that HDtracks, the first website to offer audiophile-quality downloads from different record labels, was the brainchild of people whose love of good sound was already well known. David Chesky is a composer and performer of jazz and classical music. In 1988, his frustration with the lack of control he had over his own early recordings (Columbia released his Rush Hour in 1980) led David and his brother, Norman Chesky, to found Chesky Records -- a label committed to accurate, truthful recording. The eclectic Chesky Records catalog includes recordings by Clark Terry, Astor Piazzolla, John Hammond, and many classical musicians.

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Vinyl Redux: Miles Davis and the Beatles Box Sets

When my sister Monique mentioned that she’d seen a news story on TV about the resurgence of vinyl, I scoffed: “It’s never gone away!”

I’ve pointed out elsewhere that vinyl has remained surprisingly healthy, but it turns out that the recent increase in sales is noteworthy after all. According to a story in the Wall Street Journal, vinyl sales jumped in 2014 by 49% over 2013, to a total of 9.2 million LPs.

Read more: Vinyl Redux: Miles Davis and the Beatles Box Sets