Digital Is Bad . . . or Maybe It's Not That Simple

In “As We See It,” in the October 2017 issue of Stereophile magazine, Steve Guttenberg performed a kind of thought experiment. He asked, “What if Digital Had Never Happened?” Much of his speculation had merit, and resonated with this old analog lover. “[W]e can look back and see that pre-digital recording was simpler,” he wrote, “with less of a fix-it-in-the-mix approach by engineers and bands.” Other things he said also seemed to ring true, and made me wonder if some of my assumptions about the digital vs. analog debate were worth examining.

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MPS Jazz Reissues on LP and CD: Comparisons

My usual approach to reviewing vinyl is to compare a new release with an earlier copy I have on hand or can borrow, whether on LP or CD, then describe the sounds of both and make recommendations. In most cases, the vinyl comes out on top. This time around I evaluate music mastered for simultaneous release on CD and LP by MPS Records. Christoph Stickel and Dirk Sommer prepared these recordings for both formats, and Sommer produced them for reissue by Edel, in Germany.

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ECM Reissues on Vinyl: Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, Pat Metheny

I’m old enough to remember that, in the 1970s, the Munich-based label Edition of Contemporary Music (ECM) was notable for both the quality of its recordings and how quiet its vinyl pressings were. The label’s earliest LPs released in the US were pressed in Germany, but in 1978 ECM signed a US-distribution agreement with Warner Bros., and those records were pressed at plants in the US and Canada. While some collectors and audiophiles give the German pressings a slight edge, ECM’s North American pressings were still of good quality, and the label’s recordings set a high standard. At some point, PolyGram took over US distribution, after which pressing quality varied.

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MPS Reissues Bill Evans, Clark Terry, and Dizzy Gillespie on Vinyl

Recently, when I visited the MPS Records website, I got the feeling the label might be in a transition of some sort. I’ve reviewed some of its vinyl releases, and wanted to find information about any upcoming LP releases, as well as details about the availability of reissues on reel-to-reel tape. Since those links no longer appear on the site, I can only assume that MPS is reevaluating its position about both formats. The three recent vinyl releases from MPS I discuss here make me eager to hear more from the label’s back catalog.

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Vinyl Rules -- Joe Jackson, The Dave Brubeck Quartet, The Tragically Hip

A little more than a year ago I visited my friend Mike, whose audio system is similar to mine. We both like vintage tube gear, and he has a matching Eico power amp and preamp. He recently had his mid-1980s AR turntable refurbished, and his CD player is a Yamaha CD-N500. We settled down to an evening of drinking wine and listening to music, most of it on vinyl. Mike’s is a great-sounding system, and he’s since made some upgrades, including a pair of Klipsch Heresy speakers. I’m eager to make the long drive to hear it again.

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Two Guitarists and a Drummer

John Abercrombie, born in 1944, is among the generation of jazz guitarists influenced by the rock music of the 1960s. Jimi Hendrix had an especially strong impact on jazz players of his generation -- his use of distortion, volume, and feedback soon found its way into their music, as the sound and force of rock music became part of a fusion of jazz and rock that almost immediately came to be called, simply, fusion.

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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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