Monday, May 26, 2014

Vinyl Record News & Music Notes

Chris N. of Los Angeles, CA was the winner in the SpaceLab9 Walking Dead Soundtrack Vinyl Contest

Congratulations to Chris and thank you to all who entered!

Special thank you to SPACELAB9.COM for providing an awesome prize!


amazing story for Memorial Day:

Newly Restored Vinyl Record Helps Children of World War II Veteran Hear Their Father Again


neat story from across the pond:

Liverpool Tour Guide Bumps Into Longtime Beatles Friend


WEEKLY WAX: Vinyl Releases For The Week Of 5/18-5/24


fantastic story from by Sam McManis of

Discoveries: Vinyl: The Sound and Culture of Records


from our friends at AudioFidelity

The Grateful Dead - Shakedown Street

The Grateful Dead led by Jerry Garcia were one of the cornerstones of 60’s counterculture - the band had lots of members from diverse musical backgrounds, each lending a different facet to the band’s sound and approach to music. 1978's "Shakedown Street" is the their tenth studio album, and is definitive Dead - essential to any serious rock collection, a fusion of rock, funk, blues, reggae, country, and improvisational jam. Produced by Lowell George of Little Feat - the union between George and the Grateful Dead was certainly intriguing.

The album features Garcia and Bob Weir on vocals and guitars, Phil Lesh on bass and vocals, Keith Godchaux on vocals and keyboards, Donna Jean Godchaux on vocals, and Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart on percussion.

Two of the Dead's most beloved live songs, "Shakedown Street" and "Fire on the Mountain", appear here. Their bouncy Caribbean-soul-style cover of The Rascals' "Good Lovin'" is irresistible. The Dead revive "New Minglewood Blues" (which they originally cut for their debut) and Garcia and Robert Hunter write their own "Stagger Lee" while Hart and Kreutzmann get a percussion workout on the instrumental "Serengetti," Bob Weir affects a bluesy growl on "I Need a Miracle" and Donna Godchaux's "From The Heart Of Me" is absolutely gorgeous.

The album cover art was by underground comics artist Gilbert Shelton.

"Shakedown Street" is a fascinating listen - classic sounds from a classic band. Even the jacket artwork is classic.

1. Good Lovin' 
2. France 
3. Shakedown Street 
4. Srengetti 
5. Fire On The Mountain 

1. I Need A Miracle 
2. From The Heart Of Me 
3. Stagger Lee 
4. All New Minglewood Blues 
5. If I Had The World To Give

*Mastered by Kevin Gray*

Order at AudioFidelity


Sam Cooke – Ain’t That Good News – ABKCO/ Hugo and Luigi Records – vinyl  Sam Cooke‘s final album…

Sam Cooke – Ain’t That Good News – ABKCO/ Hugo and Luigi Records 9899-1 (1964) – stereo Audiophile LP ***1/2:

There will always be an argument over whether it was Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, or Jackie Wilson, who was the greatest soul crooner of the 1960s. Each had major hit songs and huge fan followers. None of the three had long lifetimes with only Wilson approaching his 50th birthday. Cooke lived the shortest, dying in a mysterious shooting at a motel in December 1964, just a month short of his 34th birthday.

Sam’s final studio album was Ain’t That Good News, which was issued shortly before his death. It was notable for the fact that it introduced  “A Change is Gonna Come,” which became an anthem for the civil rights movement. “Another Saturday Night” was the other chart topper that arose from this album. The album has been given an audiophile make-over by ABCKO and Hugo and Luigi Records. The acoustics are crisp with Cooke’s velvety vocals matched by bright horns and upfront rhythm section.

The title track gets the LP off to a strong start with its relaxed groove. “Meet Me at Mary’s Place” has an infectious gospel beat with the background singers in a call and response. “Good Times” finds Sam testifying about letting the good times roll. Try to keep your feet from tapping here. The horns open with a fanfare on “Rome (Wasn’t Built in a Day)” and Cooke makes this pedestrian song sparkle. Much more intoxicating is “Another Saturday Night.” Listening to this classic tune with Cooke’s ad libs will bring you back to nostalgic transistor days. However, the clear percussion, horns, and vocals mix on this track make it blow away any previous issue. Sam tries to resuscitate “Tennessee Waltz” but even his efforts are for naught as it doesn’t belong here, and serves as filler.

Side 2 opens with “A Change is Gomma Come” and its powerful message still resonates today. The strings swirl around Cooke in magnificent stereo, and the violins add to its majesty. Knowing Sam would soon be gone just adds to the effect of the song’s lyrics. He could have been a powerful voice for civil rights had he lived a full life. “Falling in Love” is a sumptuous ballad, and it is easy to imagine slow dancing with your girl to this tune back in the day. “Home (When Shadows Fall)” is given a saccharine treatment and the strings bring to mind the Jackie Gleason with strings albums. This track explains though why Cooke appealed to both the younger listener as well as their parents.

“Sittin’ in the Sun” has a lilting quality that elicits memories of  sitting outside in the summer enjoying a lemonade (with maybe an added splash of something stronger). The horns luckily help tamper down the intruding strings . “There’ll Be No Second Time” is much better listening as Cooke instructs what the outcome will be due to a lover’s indiscretion. The inclusion of “The Riddle Song” to end the album shows the producer’s confidence that Cooke could bring soul to most any number, and Cooke partially rewards their confidence with his magnificent voice. It’s doubtful that Otis Redding could have pulled this feat off.

This album has enough plusses to recommend its purchase by fans of Cooke, who want to hear his knockout version of “A Change is Gonna Come” along with the other winning songs, primarily on Side 1, all in superb remastered sound.

Side 1:  Ain’t That Good News, Meet Me at Mary’s Place, Good Times, Rome (Wasn’t Built in a Day), Another Saturday Night, Tennessee Waltz

Side 2:  A Change is Gonna Come, Falling in Love, Home (When Shadows Fall), Sittin’ in the Sun, There’ll Be No Second Time, The Riddle Song

—Jeff Krow

Kathleen Grace – No Place To Fall – Monsoon Records (vinyl or CD)

Not many jazz artists attempt a full crossover into country music.

Kathleen Grace – No Place To Fall – Monsoon Records MS204 vinyl (43:10) or CD (48:10), [5/13/14] ****1/2:

(Kathleen Grace – vocals; Eric Kertes – electric bass, double bass; David Steele – acoustic, electric guitars; David Raven – drums; Will Gramling – piano, organ; Tim Young – electric guitar; Greg Leisz – pedal steel guitar; Jamie Drake – vocals; Leslie Stevens – vocals; Patrick Park – vocals; Anthony Wilson – electric guitar)

Not many jazz artists attempt a full crossover into country music. Native Tucsonian Kathleen Grace had established a career as a jazz artist. She released three critically acclaimed albums (Sunrise/2005; Songbird/2007 and Mirror/2008), but things changed. After listening to Leonard Cohen singing “Suzanne”, she began to explore country music performers, like John Prine, Dolly Parton and Kitty Wells. This eventually led to the recording of a new country album

Monsoon Records has released No Place To Fall in two formats, standard CD (with ten tracks) and vinyl (nine tracks). With an assortment of covers and original compositions, Grace (with the help of a top notch band and guest players) has initiated a winning debut in country music. And what better way to open a country album than with the laid-back melancholy of Townes Van Zandt on the title cut. With a languid beat and sorrowful guitars (including pedal steel), the unique essence of weary romance is expressed. Grace’s voice meshes perfectly with the band. Her vocals are subtle, but she reflects a deep sentiment. Her songwriting is lyrical and allows narrative imagery “I’m On Fire” uses a desert campfire to articulate the intensity of love. Her vocals are evocative, with ethereal accents and touches of upper register vocalese. The band mix contributes to the overall delicacy. In a traditional country waltz, “Fine Young Woman” pays homage to the singer’s mother.

Choosing interesting songs can be a defining element of a good album. Tom Waits’ “The Briar And The Rose” is a compelling, gospel hymn. Grace is joined by Jamie Drake and Leslie Stevens who contribute a verse apiece. But the trio glows in three-part harmony. Another fresh take is Grace’s version of Meat Puppets’ “Plateau”. This band has been described as ‘country-punk” and the arrangement resonates with harder rock edges.  Reaching back to elegant jazz roots, “Mood Indigo” assumes a country twang, but with all the requisite jazz/blues flourishes that an Ellington opus commands. There is an innate connection to the soulful core of country and blues, and Grace nails it.

No Place To Fall pushes the boundaries of country music. “The Colour Of Spring” (only available on the CD) is a spacey, emotional song that is deliberate and utilizes a church organ (Will Gramling) and guitar echos for texture. Additionally there are some agile chord shifts. Grace has a feel for the nuances of country. “Goodnight” (also in waltz time) exudes the relaxed elegance of Americana.

Both the vinyl and CD format sound excellent. There is advanced clarity on the digital CD album. The vinyl captures some of the distortion (on electric guitar and especially bass). For the most part, individual preferences for sound will determine which reproduction best suits a listener. Either way, it will be worth it!

TrackList: (Vinyl) = Side A: No Place To Fall; Emma; I’m On Fire; Fine Young Woman; Plateau
 Side B: Mood Indigo; The Briar And The Rose; Blame It On My Youth; Goodnight

TrackList: (CD) = No Place To Fall; Emma; I’m On Fire; Fine Young Woman; Plateau; Mood Indigo; The Colour Of Spring; The Briar And The Rose; Blame It On My Youth; Goodnight

—Robbie Gerson

I want to thank John over at for the exclusive rights to reprint these great reviews!

AUDIOPHILE AUDITION focuses on recordings of interest to audiophiles and collectors, with an accent on surround sound for music, and on all hi-res disc formats. Over 100SACD, DVD Video/Audio and standard CD reviews are published during each month, and our archives go back to January 2001.