Friday, September 26, 2008

Vinyl is making a comeback

I would liike to thank the author of this article Kathy Rem and her publication (The State Journal-Register) for allowing me to reprint this great material. I love the stories about the resurgence in vinyl record sales, here is just another example. Hail Vinyl!

Vinyl is making a comeback

written by Kathy Rem

Crackle, crackle, pop, hiss.

That’s the sound of vinyl records making a comeback.

Fueled by nostalgic baby boomers, young people drawn to the obscurity of the technology, scratch-happy dance DJs and music aficionados seeking a richer sound than compact discs and downloads can provide, LPs — using technology dating back to the 1800s and Thomas Edison’s first phonograph — are taking the music industry for a spin.

“Vinyl has slowed down, but it’s never stopped,” said Mark Kessler, who sells both new and used albums at his Springfield business, Recycled Records. “It’s definitely making a comeback.”

Manufacturers shipped 1.3 million albums in 2007, a 36 percent jump over 2006, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, a trade group for the recording industry. Shipments of CDs during the same period were 511 million, a drop of 17 percent.

Kessler, who also sells CDs, tapes, turntables, comic books, furniture, cameras and all things quirky at his downtown store at 625 E. Adams St., estimates 20 percent of his sales come from vinyl records.

Sturdy wooden bins on the upper level hold 35,000 vintage 33s by performers such as Judy Garland, the Beatles and Marvin Gaye, while new recordings by groups like Metallica, Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead arrive shortly after they are pressed.

The old albums at Recycled Records are what got Tom Huber of Springfield into record collecting.

“When I was in high school, there was a ton of music I wanted but couldn’t afford to buy. I went down there and Mark had records for 2 bucks. My God, I could afford 2 bucks. I kept buying all the music I wanted,” said Huber, 46, host of the eclectic music show “Crop Circles” on WQNA-FM 88.3 and map librarian at the Illinois State Library. He owns about 3,000 LPs.

“The one thing vinyl has going for it is that it’s permanent. A lot of folks say they don’t know how long CDs will last. The coating that contains the data can come off,” said Huber.

But those with an ear for nuance in recorded music say the main benefit is the sound, described as rich, warm and rounded.

“Vinyl uses analog sound which is different than the digital on CDs. It has a higher signal-to-noise ratio. It’s not that you’re hearing better sound, you’re hearing more of it,” said music collector Greg Michaud of Springfield, who has all forms of music, including 5,000 albums.

With analog, a physical groove is etched into the record, which mimics a sound wave. CDs transform sound into digital bundles of information.

But playing vinyl on an inferior turntable, Michaud warned, won’t sound better than digital.

“If you compare very good sound systems, you’ll find in many cases the analog is superior. I listen to music as background when my wife and I are making dinner together and digital is fine. But when we’re really serious about enjoying a piece of music, we’ll revert to vinyl when we can,” said Huber, 54.

Kessler said some artists, such as Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan, are meant to sound a little raw, a shading best captured on vinyl.

“When you remaster that, then you lose that rawness. It may sound cleaner, but it doesn’t sound the same,” he said.

Another benefit of vinyl is the sensory pleasure of putting the needle on the record, admiring the often distinctive cover art and lingering over the liner notes.

“When you pick up a 12-inch vinyl LP, usually it has a photograph or graphic art on the cover. Open it up and there are elaborate notes about the musicians and who wrote the songs. Part of the vinyl experience is you get more information about the music. It’s hard to reproduce that with a CD,” said Michaud, an environmental consultant.

“Holding a record for the first time is exciting,” Huber said. “What will it sound like? Who wrote the songs? Who is playing? I think this is one of the reasons why it’s made a comeback.”

Added Kessler: “The cover art of the ’50s and ’60s is wonderful. You can actually read the liner notes without a microscope.”

For those who want to display cover art, retailers sell frames specifically sized for albums.

Kessler noticed an uptick in LP sales 12 to 18 months ago and predicts they will continue to grow in popularity for the next few years.

“It’s not cheap for the record industry to put vinyl out, and those guys aren’t idiots. They wouldn’t be pressing stuff if people weren’t buying it,” he said. Independent labels, he added, have never stopped pressing vinyl. The major labels now are offering more of it.

Last fall, online powerhouse — which has sold vinyl records for most of its 13 years — launched a special vinyl-only section. There are more than 202,000 items for sale.

And vinyl marketing is getting more sophisticated. Some artists offer free digital downloads to customers who buy their vinyl albums, a nod to buyers who want the sound of vinyl and the portability of an MP3 player.

New LPs sell for about $14 to $30. Vinyl 45s aren’t nearly as popular, but some new songs are pressed for collectors and for use in jukeboxes.

Vinyl, of course, isn’t all nirvana.

The sound can be marred by scratching and popping. A turntable is necessary, ruling out tunes for jogging and car rides. It usually is more expensive than other formats. And a big collection of albums can be cumbersome and weighty.
“If you have a lot of records in your house,” Huber said, “it’s not fun when you have to move.”


Classic Rock Videos

From one of the all-time great vocal groups:

Bob Dylan to release more rarities in October

By Dean Goodman, Reuters

LOS ANGELES -- Bob Dylan is opening up his vaults for the first time in three years, with his label announcing that it will issue a multi-disc album consisting of late-era outtakes, previously unreleased recordings and live tracks in October.

"Tell Tale Signs," the eighth instalment in Dylan's "Bootleg Series," focuses on albums from the last two decades, ranging from 1989's "Oh Mercy" to 2006's "Modern Times."

Columbia Records will release "Tell Tale Signs" in three configurations on October 7: a standard two-disc package with 27 songs, a "limited edition" set with a bonus disc containing 12 songs; and a four-LP vinyl version including all the elements of the two-CD set.

Most of the tracks come from sessions for "Oh Mercy" and his 1997 comeback of sorts "Time Out of Mind." Selections from the former include a piano demo of "Dignity" and two alternate versions of "Most of the Time"; and from the latter, a live version of "Cold Irons Bound" recorded during Dylan's set at the 2004 Bonnaroo festival in Tennessee.

The sessions for his 1993 folk covers album "World Gone Wrong" have yielded "32-20 Blues," a tune billed as Dylan's first release of a Robert Johnson song.

Dylan's "Bootleg Series" launched in 1991 with a three-disc boxed set collecting rare and unreleased tracks spanning 27 years. The most recent release was the 2005 soundtrack to the documentary "No Direction Home."

While there have been some reports that Dylan is working on a follow-up to "Modern Times," a Columbia spokesman said "Tell Tale Signs" is the focus for now.


The MÖTLEY CRÜE vinyl albums are back and has them first! These amazing reissues are scheduled to be released on November 25, 2008 but you can pre-order them at today for a special pre-order price. These reissues are for the first five studio albums only. Also available for the first time on vinyl is the brand new MÖTLEY CRÜE album "Saints of Los Angeles".

Fans can pre-order their copies of these vinyl records at this location.

MÖTLEY CRÜE will reissue its complete studio catalog on September 30, 2008 on Mötley Records/Eleven Seven Music (RED Distribution). The catalog includes eight chart-topping studio albums originally released between 1981 and 2000:

* "Too Fast For Love" (1981)
* "Shout at the Devil" (1983)
* "Theatre of Pain" (1985)
* "Girls, Girls, Girls" (1987)
* "Dr. Feelgood" (1989)
* "Mötley Crüe" (1994)
* "Generation Swine" (1997)
* "New Tattoo" (2000)

The band has sold over 80 million albums, 25 million in the U.S. alone, with six singles reaching the top 20 on the U.S. Billboard chart.

Also released on the same day will be 17 of the band's classic music videos which will be available for download online via all digital music stores.

MÖTLEY CRÜE's new album, "Saints of Los Angeles", has sold 223,000 copies in the United States since its June 24 release, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The CD is MÖTLEY CRÜE's first studio album since 2000's "New Tattoo", which has sold a little over 200,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The band's last studio effort with all of its original members was 1997's "Generation Swine", which debuted and peaked at No. 4 on The Billboard 200, and has sold more than 300,000 units.


Album Cover Art

Let's continue our look at controversial, weird, the worst and the best album cover art as compiled by the crack staff at


33. The Black Crowes: ‘Amorica’ Oh, that really pubic hair? Never mind that we all have it, it just can't been seen on an album cover- have they no shame?

Amorica is the third album by The Black Crowes. It was released in late 1994 on American Recordings and re-issued in the USA and UK in 1998, with two added bonus tracks. The album cover's depiction of pubic hair, from a 1976 United States Bicentennial issue of Hustler magazine, caused controversy. The record company ended up putting out an alternative cover that blacked out the offending image.



33. Little Feat: 'Down On The Farm' Wow, what a great looking duck, probably be better roasted, although the tiger in the background may have the same idea.

Down on the Farm is the seventh studio album by the American rock band Little Feat, released in 1979. It was also their last original work for nine years. The band announced their break-up in June 1979 during the making of the album, and a fortnight later the band's founder and guiding light Lowell George died from a heart attack brought on by years of overindulgence. Feat would reform in 1988.

The cover shows one of Neon Park's several duck-girls - an allusion to "The Finishing Touch" by painter Gil Elvgren. Neon Park was an American artist and illustrator, best known for the images that have strongly defined covers for nearly every Little Feat album. He is also known for the infamous cover of Weasels Ripped My Flesh for Frank Zappa, as well as covers and graphics for David Bowie, Dr. John, and the Beach Boys. Illustrations for Playboy, National Lampoon, Glass Eye, and Dreamworks are also among his claims to fame.



33. Michael Jackson – ‘Bad’ Bad is what I think about the Manchild, but millions adored him and still do. With the industry expecting another major hit, Jackson's first album in five years, Bad (1987), was highly anticipated. Bad had lower sales than the previous blockbuster Thriller, but was still a significant commercial success. In the US, it spawned seven hit singles, five of which ("I Just Can't Stop Loving You", "Bad", "The Way You Make Me Feel", "Man in the Mirror" and "Dirty Diana") went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, more than any other album. The album sold over 25 million copies worldwide, and shipped eight million units in the US.

I'll let Michael explain a bit about himself:

"Why not just tell people I'm an alien from Mars. Tell them I eat live chickens and do a voodoo dance at midnight. They'll believe anything you say, because you're a reporter. But if I, Michael Jackson, were to say, "I'm an alien from Mars and I eat live chickens and do a voodoo dance at midnight", people would say, "Oh, man, that Michael Jackson is nuts. He's cracked up. You can't believe a damn word that comes out of his mouth".

—Michael Jackson

Thanks Michael, that explains it all.



33. Pink Floyd: ‘The Division Bell’ Nice artwork, but not on my list of top 50. The Division Bell is the final studio album by Pink Floyd, released in 1994 (30 March in the United Kingdom and 5 April in the United States), and the second album without original bassist Roger Waters. It was recorded at a number of studios, including guitarist/vocalist David Gilmour's houseboat studio called The Astoria. It went to #1 in the UK and debuted at the top of the U.S. Billboard 200 album charts in April 1994, spending four weeks as the top album in the country. By contrast, Pink Floyd's previous album, A Momentary Lapse of Reason, had peaked at #3. The Division Bell was certified Gold, Platinum, and Double Platinum in the U.S. in June 1994 and Triple Platinum in January 1999. Its release was accompanied by an extremely successful tour documented in the P•U•L•S•E album released the following year.

The cover artwork, by long-time Pink Floyd collaborator Storm Thorgerson, shows two metal head sculptures sculpted by John Robertson, each over three metres tall and weighing 1500 kilograms. They were placed in a field in Cambridgeshire and photographed under all weather and lighting conditions over a two-week period, sometimes with visual effects such as lights between them. Ely Cathedral is visible in the background, as are lights (actually car headlights on poles), shown through the sculptures' mouths. Rumours circulated at the time of the photography that they were in excess of 20 metres high; this was not true. The sculptures are now in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.

The cover photograph is slightly different on each format, and between the United States Columbia and British EMI releases. The Braille writing on the EMI CD jewel case spells Pink Floyd.

Additional album artwork. Two additional 7.5 metres tall stone head sculptures were made by Aden Hynes and photographed in the same manner; although they do not appear in the CD artwork, they appeared on the cassette cover, and can be seen in the tour brochure and elsewhere.

The artwork inside the lyric booklet revolves around a similar theme, except the heads are made up of various other objects, such as newspapers ("A Great Day for Freedom"), coloured glass ("Poles Apart"), and boxing gloves ("Lost for Words"). Pages two and three portray a picture from La Silla observatory.

This Date In Music History-September 26


Roxy Music's Bryan Ferry (1945).

Stuart Tosh of the Alan Parsons Project (1951).

Los Lobos guitarist/singer/songwriter Cesar Rosas was born in Hermosillo, Mexico in 1954.

Olivia Newton-John is 60.

Lynn Anderson ("Rose Garden") turns 61.


In 1887, Emile Berliner, a 36 year old German immigrant living in Washington DC, applied for a patent on his invention, the gramophone. The machine was the first to play flat discs as opposed to Thomas Edison's wax cylinder apparatus. The patent would be granted in November.

In 1960, Connie Francis became the first female singer in the Rock and Roll era to have two consecutive number one singles when "My Heart Has a Mind Of Its Own" went to the top of the Billboard chart. It followed "Everybody's Somebody's Fool.”

The Beatles released their 13th album in the UK, "Abbey Road" in 1969. It’s issued in the US a week later and is the last album they will ever make together as a group. Within a month, the LP begins an eleven week run on Billboard's Hot 200 album chart.

Today in 1964, the song "Oh, Pretty Woman" by Roy Orbison topped the charts and stayed there for 3 weeks.

Robert Palmer ("Bad Case Of Loving You") died of a heart attack in 2003.

Bessie Smith died in a car crash in 1937. One of the first great blues and jazz singers, she became known as "the Empress of the Blues."

In 1964, the Kinks released their single "You Really Got Me." It becomes their first American hit, peaking at No. 7.

Promoter Bill Graham opened the Fillmore West in San Francisco in 1969. It quickly becomes the epicenter of the city's psychedelic-band boom.

According to Tamla-Motown, label act the Jackson 5 sold 10 million singles in the space of nine months in 1970. The feat becomes a world record.

John Lennon released his solo album Walls and Bridge in 1974. Featuring the Elton John-assisted single "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night," it becomes his last album of original material for six years. It will reach #1 in the US and #6 in the UK.

The late, great George Gershwin was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1898. His works include "Swanee" and "Rhapsody in Blue."

The Clash released their first U.S. single in 1979. It was their remake of Bobby Fuller Four's "I Fought The Law."

The initial 300,000-unit shipment of Elton John's "Candle In The Wind 1997" sold out in Japan on its first day of release in 1997.

The late Marty Robbins ("A White Sport Coat") was born in 1925.

Dusty Springfield entered a recording studio in Memphis in 1968 to lay down tracks for what will prove to be the critically acclaimed LP "Dusty In Memphis", which will include her US #10 hit, "Son Of A Preacher Man".

In 2007, following five months of testimony, a mistrial was declared in the murder case of music producer Phil Spector. After deliberating for twelve days, the jury told Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler that they were deadlocked 10 to 2 on whether Spector murdered actress Lana Clarkson more than 4½ years ago.

It had been nearly a decade but Paul McCartney was back on the road in 1989. The world tour, with over 100 shows, started in Drammen, Norway. McCartney played his solo material and tossed in some Beatles ("Got To Get You Into My Life") and Wings ("Band On The Run") songs.