Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The return of vinyl

Photo by Jim Hannon

Chris James puts a vinyl recording onto a USB turntable that is connected to his computer.

I would like to thank the TimesDaily newspaper (Florence, Ala. and the author Russ Corey for the exclusive rights to republish this interesting article:

The return of vinyl

Vinyl records see re-emergence in Shoals

By Russ Corey
Staff Writer

Chris James may have grown up during a time when the vinyl record was being replaced by the CD, but like a lot of young people, he's rediscovering why vinyl records were so popular in the first place.

There are numerous articles on the Internet trumpeting the return of the vinyl record and how it continues to increase in popularity even as overall album sales, mainly CDs, continue to slip.

James was first introduced to vinyl records by his parents, who had a collection that included The Doors and Three Dog Night.

"That's really how I started liking music in general," said James, bass player for the local alt-rock band Lauderdale.

Vinyl records have a more natural sound and more room to provide listeners with liner notes and album artwork. While they might not be as prevalent in record stores as they once were, you can find vinyl records in used record stores, flea markets, junk stores, online and at live shows.

"You can get into different kinds of music that way, too," James said.

Shoals-based recording artist Jason Isbell said he insists a new album includes a run of vinyl records when he's negotiating a record contract.

"Listening to vinyl as a kid was such a ritual," Isbell said. "You had to actually physically maintain your record player; you had to flip (the record) over from side A to side B."

Even though there's only one side to a CD, Isbell said he arranges the tracks on his albums with an ending to what would be side A and the beginning of side B.

Many say the sound of a vinyl album has a warm sound as opposed to the sometimes "brittle" sound of a CD.

Patterson Hood, a former Shoals resident and founder of the rock band Drive-By Truckers, also is a fan of vinyl because it provides the best sounding and best looking way to own music, he said.

"It sounds better than CDs or MP3s," Hood said. "While it doesn't have the convenience of the MP3, some people still like to listen at home and have a physical format."

Most of the Truckers' catalog is available on vinyl, and the vinyl version of their upcoming release, "The Big To Do," will include an extra track that will not be included on the compact disc version.

"It's a good one, too," Hood said. "I included three extra tracks on the vinyl version of my last solo album this past year."

And like many artists, the new album will include a CD version of the album so it can be downloaded to an MP3 player or listened to in a car CD player. Vinyl albums also provide a larger medium for artwork than a CD.

"There's just the aesthetic aspect to it," Isbell said. "You can hang a record on your wall; you can put them on display in your house. I believe in quality artwork on record covers."

Jamie Barrier, songwriter and guitarist for the Pine Hill Haints, Rise Up Howling Werewolf and The Wednesdays, has released his bands' music on vinyl for years, on both 12-inch LPs and 7-inch discs.

Barrier's Arkam Records has 40 releases, 80 percent of which were 7-inch and 12-inch vinyl records. "I sell more of it every year," Barrier said. "There's a certain type of market of people that never quit listening to it."

Even when vinyl lost its mass appeal, fans of punk and alternative music expected vinyl releases.

Barrier agrees that in many cases, people want something tangible to complement their digital downloads.

Logan Rogers, president of Lightning Rod Records in Nashville, said care has to go into estimating how many vinyl records an artist might sell. "It's a more expensive process, so we definitely have to be fairly realistic about what you can sell," Rogers said. "You don't want to manufacture too many."

Lightning Rod released "Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit" on CD and vinyl. Rogers said the vinyl version is a double-LP that includes a copy of the CD.

"If you pick up the LP at the store or at the concert, you can immediately stick the CD in your car and listen to it," he said.

Eli Flippen, owner of Pegasus Records, Tapes and CDs in Florence, has been selling new and used vinyl records for years. Flippen said he stocks as many LP versions of new releases as he can.

Used record sales have been strong, especially classic rock from the late 1960s and early 1970s. Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles are some of the most popular, he said. High school and college students hearing vinyl for the first time are detecting differences between the LP and MP3 versions of the songs.

"People kind of realize that the old analog warmth is more pleasing," he said.


Ask Mr. Music by Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: A friend told me that my copy of “Introducing the Beatles,” which I bought in the mid-'60s, might be a very valuable original, or just as likely could be a fake.

What is the current value of an original? How do I know if it's real or a not?
—Shannon Houseman, Milwaukee

DEAR SHANNON: I'll tackle the first question, which is somewhat complex, then tell you what you need to know to determine if anything in the first part matters.

First is the near-mint price range, followed by the essential identification details:

$20,000 to $30,000: “Introducing the Beatles” STEREO (Vee-Jay VJLP 1062).

Front cover reads “Englands (sic) No. 1 Vocal Group,” though back cover neither mentions nor pictures the Beatles.

Instead, back has photos and publicity for 25 “Other Fine Albums of Significant Interest,” a subjective mix of earlier Vee Jay LPs by Jerry Butler; Jimmy Reed; 4 Seasons; Frank Ifield; John Lee Hooker; Eddie Harris; and others. Collectors refer to this as the “ad back” cover.

Reportedly, Vee Jay was at the time embroiled in a dispute over song licensing rights, and not wanting to further fan the litigious flames, decided against calling attention to the tracks on the album r— especially “Love Me Do” and “P.S. I Love You.” Notification to cease issuing these two songs had already been sent to Vee Jay.

On subsequent pressings, Vee Jay replaced those two tracks with “Ask Me Why” and “Please Please Me,” along with a listing of all 12 tunes on the back cover.

Interestingly, labels for stereo discs show the selection prefix/number as VJLP 1062, yet front cover has only “SR-1062.”

$8,000 to $12,000: “Introducing the Beatles” MONO (Vee-Jay VJLP-1062).

Same as above for stereo ad back, but with monaural sound and without SR-1062 on the cover.

$8,000 to $12,000: “Introducing the Beatles” STEREO (Vee-Jay VJLP-1062).

Variation of above issue, using the same front cover. Back cover, however, has no printing whatsoever. Whether caused by a production error, or intentionally left blank so as to have product for sale during the changeover from ad back to column back covers, we do not yet know. Appropriately known as the “blank back” cover.

$5,000 to $7,500: “Introducing the Beatles” MONO (Vee-Jay VJLP-1062).

Same as above for stereo blank back, but with monaural sound and without SR-1062 on the cover.

$15,000 to $20,000: “Introducing the Beatles” STEREO (Vee-Jay VJLP-1062).

Second issue. Front cover is the same as first stereo issue. Back cover lists contents in two columns; six titles on Side One, the last of which is “Love Me Do,” and six on Side Two, the first being “P.S. I Love You.”

Later pressings replaced “Love Me Do” with “Ask Me Why” and “P.S. I Love You” with “Please Please Me.”

This and future versions all have the column back cover.

$4,000 to $6,000: “Introducing the Beatles” MONO (Vee-Jay VJLP-1062).

Same as above for second issue stereo column back, but with monaural sound and without SR-1062 on the cover.

$4,000 to $6,000: “Introducing the Beatles” STEREO (Vee-Jay VJLP-1062).

Third issue. Stereo records can be found in stereo covers, though many came out in mono covers with “Stereo” or “Stereophonic” stickers affixed. Record labels and column back cover reflect the inclusion of “Ask Me Why” and “Please Please Me” instead of “Love Me Do” and “P.S. I Love You.”

$800 to $1,200: “Introducing the Beatles” MONO (Vee-Jay VJLP-1062).

Record labels and column back cover reflect the inclusion of “Ask Me Why” and “Please Please Me”

As we are so fond of pointing out, the price ranges stated are ONLY applicable to copies with both the cover and the record in at least near-mint condition.

Damaged goods, or even those showing slight wear and tear, will have values lowered by an amount commensurate with their flaws.

IZ ZAT SO? Unfortunately, many mono copies and nearly every stereo “Introducing the Beatles” in captivity is a five dollar counterfeit. Authentic stereo copies, of any of the three versions, are extremely rare, as evidenced by their grandiose values. Most folks will never even see one in person.

There is a lengthy checklist collectors use to spot a fake LP, but one quick and reliable test is to look at the record label.

Originals have both the LP title, “Introducing the Beatles,” and the artist credit, “The Beatles,” ABOVE the center hole.

This is true no matter which version you have, and applies to both mono and stereo.

Counterfeits have only the LP title, “Introducing the Beatles,” above the center hole, and place the artist credit, “The Beatles,” below the center hole.

Jerry Osborne answers as many questions as possible through this column.

Jerry's Question page: Ask your question here.

Write Jerry at: Box 255, Port Townsend, WA 98368

Visit his Web site:

All values quoted in this column are for near-mint condition.

Copyright 2010 Osborne Enterprises- Reprinted By Permission

2010 Blues Hall of Fame Inductees Announced

The Blues Foundation has announced the inductees for the Blues Hall of Fame in 2010, including Louisiana-born, Chicago-based bluesman Lonnie Brooks, highly-esteemed blues singer and harpist Charlie Musselwhite and singer, songwriter, guitarist and social activist Bonnie Raitt.

Among the other individuals that are being recognized by the Foundation this year include "The Father of the Blues" W.C. Handy, jug band pioneer Gus Cannon and Cannon's Jug Stompers, and the writer of many great "drinking songs," including "One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer," Amos Milburn.

American roots music writer Peter Guralnick and the legendary host of the King Biscuit Time program on KFFA radio in Helena, Arkansas Sonny Payne, are the non-performers being inducted this year. Sam Charters' groundbreaking research on the blues in the 1950s and '60s resulted in several books including this year's Classics of Blues Literature inductee - The Bluesmen.

The following singles or album tracks will be inducted during the ceremony: "All Your Love (I Miss Loving)" by Otis Rush, "Fever" by Little Willie John, "Key to the Highway' by Big Bill Broonzy, "Match Box Blues" by Blind Lemon Jefferson and "Spoonful" by Howlin' Wolf. These albums are also being honored: Strong Persuader by Robert Cray, Hung Down Head by Lowell Fulson and I Hear Some Blues Downstairs by Fenton Robinson.

The induction ceremony will be held on Wednesday, May 5, at the Memphis Marriott Downtown in Memphis, Tennessee, the night before the 31st Blues Music Awards. Plans are underway now individually honor each of the inductees that night.

The Hall of Fame committee, consisting of scholars, record producers, radio programmers, and historians, is chaired by Jim O'Neal, founding editor of Living Blues.

On May 6, the night after the Blues Hall of Fame inductions, The Blues Foundation will present the Blues Music Awards for the 31st time. Performers, industry representatives, and fans from around the world will celebrate the best in Blues recording, songwriting and performance from the previous year at the Memphis Cook Convention Center in downtown Memphis.

The presenting sponsors are The Gibson Foundation and BMI. ArtsMemphis, bandVillage, Casey Family Programs, Eagle Rock Entertainment, FedEx, I 55 Productions, Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Tennessee Arts Commission and Vividpix and Design also sponsor the Blues Music Awards.

The following are the new inductees in each of the categories:


•Lonnie Brooks - One of Chicago's top blues performers, Brooks plays a unique combination of Louisiana and Chicago blues. The singer/guitarist started his career in the in the mid-50's with zydeco's Clifton Chenier and soon had a couple of regional hits on Goldband Records. After moving to Chicago, he started doing session work (Jimmy Reed's Big Boss Man) but it wasn't until the late-70's that he came into his own as a performing artist, recording a series of albums for Alligator Records.

•Charlie Musselwhite - A firm member of the San Francisco club scene in the 70's, Musselwhite actually started his career in Chicago sitting in with greatest such as Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson. After his first album, Stand Back! Here Comes Charley Musselwhite's South Side Band, became popular on San Francisco radio, he moved west and worked with Harvey Mandel, Robben Ford and Luther Tucker, among others. It wasn't until the late-80's that Charlie ventured out to tour worldwide, causing his career to finally take off.

•Bonnie Raitt - In a career that has seen numerous changes in style, Raitt has always held her commitment to the blues and has been one of the most vocal supporters for organizations and charities that provide services for older blues performers. Her earlier albums contained a good portion of blues music and critics applauded both her soulful voice and her superb guitar playing. Even after becoming a mainstay of rock and pop radio with her 1989 album Nick of Time, Raitt continued to insist on taking some of the great names in blues on tour with her.

•W.C. Handy - Known as the Father of the Blues, Handy brought the traditional music of the rural south into the mainstream, popularizing existing songs and writing new ones in the style. In 1914, he started his own publishing company in Memphis and began writing songs that would go on to become classics such as The St. Louis Blues, Beale Street Blues and Crazy Blues.

•Gus Cannon and Cannon's Jug Stompers - Cannon, a banjo player, along with his group the Jug Stompers, recorded for Victor between 1928 and 1930. Those records were not only popular in their original day but also were big among folk and rock artists of the 60's who turned out covers of his songs (Walk Right In by the Rooftop Singers, Viola Lee Blues by the Grateful Dead and Prison Wall Blues by the Lovin' Spoonful who revamped the song into Younger Girl).

•Amos Milburn - Milburn was famous for his driving boogie piano playing which he recorded for Aladdin Records in the late-40's and 50's. Among his 19 top ten R&B hits were Chicken Shack Boogie, Bewildered, Hold Me Baby, Roomin' House Boogie and Bad, Bad Whiskey. He also worked frequently with Charles Brown.


•Peter Guralnick - One of great music writers, Guralnick has had three of his books inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, Feel Like Going Home, Searching for Robert Johnson and Sweet Soul Music. He also worked with Martin Scorsese on his Blues series for PBS.

•Sonny Payne - Payne has been the host of King Biscuit Time on KFFA in Helena, Arkansas since 1951 and still broadcasts the show today, racking up over 14,000 broadcasts. The show, which actually started in 1941, is the longest running regularly scheduled blues program in the world.

Classics of Blues Literature

•The Bluesmen by Sam Charters

Classics of Blues Recording: Singles and Album Tracks

•All Your Love (I Miss Loving) by Otis Rush
•Fever by Little Willie John
•Key to the Highway by Big Bill Broonzy
•Matchbox Blues by Blind Lemon Jefferson
•Spoonful by Howlin' Wolf

Classics of Blues Recording: Albums

•Strong Persuader by Robert Cray
•Hung Down Low by Lowell Fulson
•I Hear Some Blues Downstairs by Fenton Robinson

Music News & Notes

Gold Million Records - Where vinyl is king


Fontana Partners With Psychopathic Records

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Fontana, the independent distribution arm of Universal Music Group, the world's leading music company, has signed an exclusive distribution deal with Psychopathic Records, it was announced today by Ron Spaulding, President of Fontana, and Bill Dail, President of Psychopathic Records.

"Under Bill's leadership, Psychopathic Records has emerged as a truly innovative and successful entertainment company, and is exactly the type of entrepreneurial label that we like to be partners with," stated Mr. Spaulding. "We are looking forward to combining our expertise in sales, marketing, digital and distribution to help further develop their roster of artists."

"Psychopathic Records cannot state words that describe the excitement felt and portrayed around the company for our highly anticipated partnership with Fontana," commented Mr. Dail. "2010 marks the beginning of a successful, new era for Psychopathic Records."

Psychopathic Records, Inc., formed in Michigan in 1990, is home to the Insane Clown Posse (ICP), who debuted as Psychopathic Records' first artist with the Carnival of Carnage album in 1992 (up for Gold certification). ICP continues to be the highest grossing artist on the label, releasing many projects, including The Ringmaster (1994; Gold certified), Forgotten Freshness (1995; Gold certified), The Great Milenko (1996; Platinum certified), The Amazing Jeckel Brothers (1999; Platinum certified), The Wraith: Shangri-La (debuted at #15 on the Billboard Top 200, approaching Gold certification) The Wraith: Hell's Pit (debuted at #12 on Billboard Top 200, #1 Independent, 75,000 copies sold at debut), and most recently, Bang Pow Boom on September 1, 2009, which debuted at #4 on Billboard Top 200, #1 on Independent Chart, and has sold well over 100,000 copies to date.

Psychopathic Records also boasts a number of other cutting-edge artists including Twiztid, Blaze, ABK, Boondox and Mike E. Clark, while DJ Clay and AMB are signed to Hatchet House, Psychopathic's sub-label.

In addition to music, Psychopathic Records is also involved in sports, film and concert/video compilation DVDs. Psychopathic Records' Juggalo Championship Wrestling (JCW) was created in 1997, with several JCW tours and shows, as well as the release of two JCW DVDs: Slam TV! EPS 1-9 featuring West Side Wars and Slam TV! EPS 10-15 featuring Bloodymania. Film-wise, the company's first documentary, Shockumentary (1998; Platinum certified), tells the story of ICP and the Dark Carnival. The second documentary, A Family Underground (2009), gives viewers an inside look at the Juggalo subculture and their annual meeting, The Gathering of the Juggalos. Video and concert compilations include Insane Clown Posse: Bootlegged in LA DVD (2003; released/shipped out as Gold certified during debut week), and Psychopathic: The Videos (2007; Gold certified). Psychopathic Records first major motion picture, Big Money Hustlas was released in 1997, and its prequel, Big Money Rustlas, is planned for release sometime in 2010.

Coming up for 2010 is a special vinyl edition and gold edition of ICP's Bang Pow Boom, releases from DJ Clay, Boondox, Blaze, Twiztid and ABK, and the feature film Big Money Rustlas, the prequel to 1997's Big Money Hustlas.


Fontana Distribution, the independent arm of UMGD, provides unparalleled sales and marketing support, as well as back office services, for a diverse roster of labels and their artists. Fontana distributes more than 80 labels including Eagle Rock, Downtown, Vagrant Records, American Gramophone, Kedar Entertainment, Last Gang, Savoy Label Group, ESL, Music World, Delicious Vinyl, Ipecac, Six Degrees, SMC, Upstairs Records, VP Records, and many others. In addition, Fontana distributes select projects from UMG labels worldwide.

SOURCE Universal Music Group