Monday, December 1, 2008

New Vinyl Shop

I love the Internet! I have found a great new site and wanted to share it with you. They also had this fantastic article:

Bob Porter's History of Collecting

When it was introduced by engineers at Columbia Records in 1948, the long playing record was a 10" LP. The reason for that was that a 78 rpm album held four discs and eight songs. The LPs were pressed on vinyl, a considerably quieter surface than the shellac used to press 78s. The actual grooves were smaller (microgroove) and required a special stylus to play them. The speed was 33 1/3 rpm, a speed common for radio transcription recordings but not for those intended for home use. There were few phonographs capable of playing the new records but Columbia soon packaged a player and three LPs for a special price in order to create interest in the new product. And surprisingly, Columbia did not pursue a patent of the LP. The idea was to get other labels to participate to ensure the success of the format. Decca and Mercury were manufacturing LPs before the end of the year.

Until this point virtually all the innovations regarding records had come from RCA. It would be 1950 before RCA launched a line of LPs and the reason for that was their own introduction of the 45 rpm disc in the spring of 1949. The initial releases on 45 rpm were reissues of older Victor titles and they were pressed on colored vinyl, coded to indicate the type of music. RCA would use 45 rpm for Extended Play albums, which contained four songs, as well as singles. Within a few short years the 45 had become the dominant configuration for singles. This was hastened considerably by the Juke Box industry, which was able to double the number of records on each machine by switching from 78 to 45.

The LP had to undergo a few changes before it settled into its popular 12" format in 1956. There were lines of 12" LPs in the early years but they were few and far between and were never very popular with distributors. There were challenges from a 7" LP that was short-lived at the time but was revived in the 1960s (for Juke Box Stereo albums rather than public consumption). In the jazz field, 12" LPs gained a popularity because of the ability to contain live concert performances such as Benny Goodman's 1938 Carnegie Hall Concert or Norman Granz' Jazz at the Philharmonic productions. 12" LPs were also used for spoken word albums, many of which were played back at 16 rpm.

Broadway shows, Hollywood cast albums and classical works were also a part of the 12" success story. On the other hand, there were few blues albums being recorded in the early years of the format, R&B albums tended to be compilations of singles and gospel labels were still selling 78s into the 1960s. For jazz, 1956 was the year that the great independent labels began to build those remarkable catalogs of 12" LPs many of which were continually in-print over the next thirty years.

Argo, Atlantic, Bethlehem, Blue Note, Contemporary/Good Time Jazz, Emarcy, Fantasy, GNP Crescendo, Pacific Jazz, Prestige, Riverside, Roost, Roulette, Savoy, Vee Jay and Verve would be the major players over the next few years. Labels such as ABC, Modern and King produced jazz LPs as a part of a general product line. Other jazz labels such as Dawn, Mode, Debut and Jazz West began with a great deal of promise but couldn't sustain themselves. The big labels, Capitol, Columbia, Decca and RCA Victor integrated a certain amount of jazz into the mix of major artists and big stars from all fields that made up their release schedules.

Stereo came into play about the same time although it was a few years before stereo LPs were released on a regular basis. There had been attempts at creating stereo in the 1930s but it was the binaural process developed by Emory Cook in the early 1950s which was used by Atlantic and Fantasy on selected projects. Binaural required two separate tone arms to play the LPs and it quickly proved to be impractical in the marketplace. Yet when the binaural recordings were later re-mastered, it gave us true stereo recordings of a 1952 Wilbur DeParis album and a 1955 Lennie Tristano live date. By 1960, stereo records were issued simultaneously with their monaural counterparts but labels developed stereo lines independently of each other and there wasn't a fixed date when they all appeared. Stereo LPs were priced a dollar higher than their mono counterparts.

The dual system of inventory needed to keep up with both mono and stereo LPs was not something that wholesalers enjoyed. It was 1967 when Columbia Records decreed that it would no longer press monaural LPs that the next change took place. The entire industry, pressured by wholesalers, followed suit and mono became as obsolete as 78 rpm very quickly. Retailers in turn insisted that "stereo" had to appear on every album and that led to the "electronically reprocessed" fake stereo of the late 1960s. It was at this stage that jazz LPs suffered a steep decline in sales. When the mono portion of an album's sales disappeared, it never was recovered. Wholesalers returned thousands of LPs in mono that were no longer saleable.

The list price of most jazz labels, which had been at $4.98 since the 1950s, began to rise. Prestige moved to a $5.98 for most new projects in 1971 and that was only the beginning. The price of vinyl soared, sparked by the Arab oil boycotts of 1973 and 1979. This, in turn, led to continual price escalations and new competition in the form of tape cassettes. Cassettes had been around for a while and at one point co-existed with 8 Track as a tape configuration. 8 Track fell away as audio improvement came to cassette and cassettes were used in automobiles. By the end of the 1970s, $8.98 was the standard list price for LPs and cassettes.

Cassettes gradually increased its share of the market during the 1970s & 80s in almost all the pop categories of music. Jazz was among the holdout areas for LP yet the decline in quality of LP pressings was a source of continual annoyance to collectors. There had been a consolidation of pressing facilities and those owned by the major labels were more concerned with the cost of a pressing than the quality. It was in the late 1970s that Japanese pressings began to appear with regularity in the USA. Reissue series of Riverside and Blue Note led the way and it quickly became obvious that the quality of the Japanese pressings were at least equal to the finest American audiophile pressings. They became the standard by which anything else was judged for the remainder of the LP era.

The LP era lasted well into the late 1980s before CD became the norm. There has been plenty of debate about the audio superiority of digital recording vs. analog. One thing is certain: digital recording will always sound better on CD. If an analog recording is being digitally re-mastered, the engineer better know how to do it. There has been an enormous amount of mediocre re-mastering foisted upon the marketplace. On the other hand, the work of Rudy Van Gelder in his RVG series for Blue Note (and now Prestige) has been exemplary and the Japanese engineers continue to lead the rest of the world in quality.

Yet there are many jazz collectors who still prefer LP. Now that jazz LP reissues have begun to resurface again, it is worthwhile acknowledging the collector market for LP that has never gone away. Collectable LPs are usually those from the first edition (in their original covers) in the best possible condition. Mono records are more desirable than stereo and minor flaws can subtract substantially from the overall value. The auction market for collectable LPs can be quite volatile with the value of an LP fluctuating more like a share of common stock than having the fixed value of other antiques. Among the most desirable jazz collectables are albums on Blue Note (Lexington Avenue address on the label, flat edge and deep groove) or Prestige (yellow label, New York address, flat edge and deep groove) as well as those short-lived labels from the 1950s. 10" LPs on certain labels are highly desirable. The original cover art, such as the line drawings of David Stone Martin or the photography of Herman Leonard, is often as important as the music.

Limited editions have exceptional value in some (but not all) cases. Autographed albums generally do not increase the value of an album unless the autograph itself is rare. A Charlie Parker autograph would be meaningful; a Sol Yaged autograph would not. Colored vinyl was used on the first pressings of many companies in California but not in the rest of the country. In general, second pressings and reissues have little collector value although certain reissue series are desirable in complete sets. Mosaic Records reissues with their complete packages in limited editions are highly prized.

Original albums on European or Japanese labels that did not get American distribution can often command high prices. International editions of American albums can have some value on a European label but significantly more on a Japanese label. In large measure, the great albums by the great artists are not especially valuable unless they are first edition. They are the ones that everyone owns rather than the obscure album by a talented musician with a cult following that was pressed in small quantities. In the collecting world, in many, if not all, cases it is NOT about the music.

The return of LPs to the marketplace is a more recent development. Improved mastering and pressing quality will provide exceptional listening especially on high end equipment. While things will never return to the halcyon days of the 1950s & 60s, you will have cover art in a more viewable form and liner notes that are liner notes rather than booklets. The albums won't be in 10" form, they will be stereo or perhaps monaural depending on how it was originally recorded and will certainly not be "electronically reprocessed".

Bob Porter (Bob Porter has been running LP auctions since 1973. They are viewable on line at or available, free, in hard copy from Jazz Etc, P.O. Box 393, Bergenfield NJ 07621.)

A groove only vinyl provides

In digital age, LP sales stage big comeback

written by Emma Downs-The Journal Gazette

You can find 25-year-old Brandon Roth at the Wooden Nickel on North Anthony Boulevard about once a week, thumbing through the rows of brightly colored vinyl records stacked neatly throughout the store.

Usually, he scours the bins for newer vinyl – re-released classics or LPs by current artists such as the Black Keys. But he’s not above searching for lightly used Black Sabbath albums, either, he says.

“I’ve been buying vinyl for about a year,” Roth says. “I started with lots of hand-me-down stuff, mostly. Nothing I was really interested in. My mom had a bunch – country stuff from the ’70s – she said I could have but I passed on that. My thing is, I want to buy albums I can listen to the whole way through.”

There’s nothing unusual about Roth’s story – a man in his 20s buying new LPs at a record store – except that it’s taking place in 2008. In the digital age, even CDs are beginning to seem cumbersome. But young people like Roth are embracing vinyl in increasing numbers these days. And it’s the sound – not the size – they’re after.

“I used to like the popping and crackling sounds of vinyl,” Roth says. “But then I started buying newer vinyl. The new stuff sounds like a CD but better. MP3s – which I hate – sound like a car stereo with the treble all the way up and the bass all the way down. Good vinyl has a really warm sound.”

Bob Roets, owner of Wooden Nickel, says he began stocking vinyl in all of the company’s three stores several months ago after receiving a number of requests from customers. On some days, half of the sales at the North Anthony location – which houses about 8,000 vinyl titles – are from vinyl, Roets says.

Megastores such as Best Buy are also jumping on the bandwagon, offering thousands of vinyl titles online. Best Buy stores in 26 states – but not Indiana – also sell vinyl in-store.

“You’ll see a lot of stores selling new vinyl online, but not in the stores,” Roets says. “I’m more reckless. I see a trend, and I jump all over it. There’s definitely a resurgence right now.”

Roets has seen “dozens and dozens” of re-released and new vinyl come through his stores in the past year, from offerings by local bands such as Left Lane Cruiser to re-released Beach Boys albums.

Requests for vinyl were so high this summer that Roets began selling turntables in his stores. Currently, Wooden Nickel stores sell two kinds of turntables – the traditional variety that hooks up to a stereo and one that allows records to be recorded and stored in a digital format on a computer.

“I don’t know if it’s nostalgia or considered hip or cool or what,” Roets says. “But my son Andy started at Ball State (University) this year, and the one thing he wanted to take with him was a turntable. Records are really capturing young people’s imaginations right now.”

But why? Why records? Why not 8-track tapes or rotary telephones? Proponents of vinyl say the sound of a high-quality vinyl record is just better. And recording artists are taking note of this – including local artists. Streetlamps For Spotlights released a vinyl album this year, and the Swingin’ Angels and Key of Skeletons plan to in the future.

“You’re going to see a lot more of that in the near future,” says Jason Davis, owner of all-analog recording studio Off The Cuff Sound and member of Streetlamps For Spotlights. “It’s evident now that the CD is a transfer medium. But releasing an album on vinyl is like releasing the first edition hardcover copy of a book.”

Local band Graverobber also recently released a four-track EP on CD and vinyl – red vinyl, no less – recorded at local recording studio The Ensomberoom, which also offers analog mixing. The idea was the brainchild of the band’s former bassist Morrison Agen, who started buying new vinyl about two years ago.

“I think one of the primary reasons CD sales have suffered – despite MP3s – is because of the compression, which reduces the dynamic range and really takes away the life of the music. On vinyl, the sound recreation is more realistic, more natural and more dynamic, especially when you have a great sound system.”

Agen, 33, bought his first album – “Private Eyes” by Hall & Oates – at age 7. But during the mid-1990s, new vinyl releases were few and far between. Two years ago, after attending a record show in Chicago and realizing how many vinyl titles were available, he began replacing CDs with records. Last week, he purchased Elliott Smith’s posthumously released double album “New Moon” at Wooden Nickel.

“The thing people don’t realize is that CDs never replaced records,” he says. “They replaced cassettes. They were portable, convenient, hard to break. When Graverobber put out our vinyl album, we wanted people to get back into habit of buying vinyl – to support new vinyl pressings.”

But a new pressing of an album by a local band can also end up a collector’s item, Agen says.

When Memphis artist Jay Reatard played at The Brass Rail in October, a few of Agen’s friends drove from Chicago just to see the show and buy vinyl albums – full length and 7-inch – from Reatard himself.

“I bought three of his full-length records directly from him,” Agen says. “Bands aren’t just carrying around CDs now. They’re selling vinyl at shows. It’s been so long since I’ve seen that.”


Top 5 eBay Vinyl Record Sales

Week Ending 11/29/2008

1) LP - The Beatles "White Album" - $5,049.99 Start: $19.00 Bids: 46

2) LP - Captain Marryat self titled Private Press - $4,450.92 Start: $500.00 Bids: 10

3) LP - Johanna Martzy "Bach: The unaccompanied Violin Sonatas" Columbia Box set - $3,990.00 Start: $9.99 Bids: 21

4) LP - Dexter Gordon "Blows Hot And Cool" Dootone Red Vinyl - $2,280.55 Start: $19.99 Bids: $2,280.55

5) LP - The Southern University Jazz Ensemble "Goes To Africa With Love" - $2,133.00 Start: $9.99 Bids: 21

Selling on Thanksgiving Day and topping the $5k mark, a Beatles "White Album" takes the #1 spot. This US copy is numbered and sealed, as are all ones on the graph (yes, one lucky buyer did win one for $300 last year).

Next, a private press Prog LP out of Scotland bids up close to $4.5k . Captain Marryat appears to be a new discovery in Psych/Prog circles. Read the sellers story of how he has managed to contact one of the band members.

The rare and sought after Johnanna Martzy Bach Sonata set goes for a good price at almost $4k and gets the #3 spot.

In the #4 spot, Dexter Gordon's Dootone released "Blows Hot And Cool", pressed on red vinyl, sells for over $2.2k. And last, a '73 release from the Souther University Jazz Ensemble bids up over $2.1k.

As always, I want to thank Brian over at for this great data!

Classic Rock Videos

Light My Fire - The Doors

Album Cover Art

Let's continue our look at's list of the top 50 dirtiest and sexiest album cover art, this time #22 (Gigwise comments in quotes):

22. Bob Geldof: ‘Sex, Age & Death’ – "If you thought the belligerent rocker has only been interested in saving planet earth is recent years, then think again. Just six years ago he released this album featuring a raunchy cover of a woman presumably riding on something… Despite glowing reviews, the album flopped and Sir Bob moved back into the ego-boosting world of politics."

Quite possibly the greatest accomplishment of Geldof's musical career. Recorded at the studio of Queen drummer Roger Taylor and Tricky producer, ex-Boomtown Rats and long time collaborator and friend Pete Briquette as producer. Sex, Age & Death sees Geldof exercise his emotional demons with songs of ruthless honesty, brimming with passion and emotion in an album of live and loss. 10 tracks including 'One For Me', '$6,000,000 Loser' and 'Pale White Girls'. (review from

I actually like the album as well, the songs are well-structured and memorable; I also think it is one of his best.

Music News & Notes

Madonna Makes $91.5 Million

Madonna ended up grossing $91.5 million for her 28-date North American tour with a total of 550,000 tickets sold. Adding in the sales from the earlier European portion of the Sticky & Sweet tour gives her a grand total of $207.5 million. She is now off to Mexico and South America; however, she has canceled January shows in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia due to the high cost of production and the world economic downturn.


Drifters Record New Album

The official version of the Drifters is in the process of releasing a new album, Five Decades and Moore, their first in almost 30 years.

The album is a salute to late former member Johnny Moore who was with the group from 1954 well into the 70's and returned on a number occasions. Moore sang lead on hits such as Ruby Baby, Adorable and Under the Boardwalk.

Release date and titles are unknown at this time as most sites are listing it as being available in late-2008.


An Overdue Apology

Rolf Harris insulted the Aboriginal community in Australia in the original version of his song Tie Me Kangaroo Down and had to change the lyrics for the eventual hit recording.

Forty years later, he has apologized for the mistake but turned around and insulted them again. After claiming the original lyrics were just "a mark of the times", he added that they are responsible for their current living conditions. "In their original way of life they would wreck the countryside and go walk-about to the next place. The attitude is still there."


Soul Christmas Songs

70's Philadelphia International soul singer Bunny Sigler is back with two songs for the Holidays, Christmas Dream and Oh Holy Night. He is joined on the songs by Piano4, a quartet of four concert pianists.


Happy Birthday Dave

Jazz great Dave Brubeck, who had a top 30 hit with Take Five (top 5 on the Adult Contemporary chart) will celebrate his 88th birthday with a concert at Showcase Live in Foxborough, Massachusetts on December 6.


R.I.P. Bill Drake

The man who streamlined Top 40 radio has died. Bill Drake used research and demographics to build tight playlists, starting in the mid-60's with the Boss Radio concept which originally premiered on KHJ in Los Angeles. He later created the automated station formats for the FM dial and was behind the 52-hour History of Rock and Roll that aired nationally in 1969 and was updated in 1978. He was 71.


This Date In Music History-December 1


John Densmore (Doors) was born in 1945.

Gilbert O'Sullivan ("Clair") turns 62.

Rockabilly drumming star Sandy Nelson is 70.

Billy Paul ("Me And Mrs. Jones") is 74.

Birthday wishes to Bette Midler.

Eric Bloom (Blue Oyster Cult) was born in 1951.

They Are Missed:

The late Lou Rawls ("Dead End Street") was born in 1935.

Lee Dorsey ("Ya Ya") died of emphysema in 1986.

In 1969, Blues singer "Magic" Sam Maghett collapsed and died in Chicago after complaining of heartburn. He was 32.


In 1958, Ricky Nelson became the first ‘rock 'n' roller’ to appear on the cover of Life magazine.

A San Diego, California quintet called Rosie And The Originals reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1960 with a crudely recorded ballad called "Angel Baby". Written by the group's 14 year old singer, Rosie Hamlin, the song held the position for six weeks and stayed on the chart for three months.

Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" was released in the US in 1972- where it will reach #1. The tune caused much speculation about who Carly was singing about, with popular guesses that included Mick Jagger (who sang uncredited backing vocals on the song), Cat Stevens, Warren Beatty, Kris Kristofferson (with whom she had had brief relationships), her unfaithful fiancĂ© William Donaldson, and her ex-husband, James Taylor. We do have these insipid ‘letter’ clues, but we may never know who it is really about.

Fats Domino's highest-charting Top 40 hit, "Blueberry Hill," reached #2 in 1956 (and topped the R&B chart for 11 weeks). It was held back from the top pop spot by Guy Mitchell's "Singing the Blues." Despite a career as hit-filled as his, Domino will—like Creedence Clearwater Revival—never have a #1 pop record.

The Phil Spector written "To Know Him Is To Love Him" was the #1 song in the US in 1958 for The Teddy Bears. The trio consisted of Spector, along with two friends, Marshall Leib and Annette Kleinbard.

In 1961, "Please Mr. Postman," by the Marvelettes, became Motown's first #1 pop hit and second million-seller.

Three rock and roll acts made their debut on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1957: Buddy Holly & the Crickets ("That'll Be the Day"), Sam Cooke ("You Send Me"), and the Rays.

In 1968, Janis Joplin made her final appearance with Big Brother & the Holding Company.

"I Want to Hold Your Hand," the Beatles' first American single, was released by Capitol Records in 1963.

"I Heard It Through the Grapevine," written by Marvin Gaye and recorded by Gladys Knight and the Pips, rose to #2 in 1967. Exactly a year later, Gaye's own version will become the top song in the country.

A free concert was organized by the Rolling Stones at Altamont Speedway, outside San Francisco in 1969. The event turned ugly when sets were disrupted by violence from Hell's Angels, Marty Balin was knocked unconscious, and a concert-goer was stabbed to death.

Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' was released in 1982.

Nirvana's "Nevermind" hits #1 on Billboard's Top 200 album chart in 1992. It grossed more than $50 million in sales.

The Dave Clark Five reach #1 with "Over and Over" in 1965.

In 1976, The Eagles' Hotel California” spends the first of a total of eight weeks at Number One.