So this summer I've fallen back in love with vinyl, thanks in part to CC editor Steve Holtje giving me a satchel of essential albums this past winter, thus forcing me to buy a new turntable. It seems like only yesterday when vinyl ruled my world -- when Tower Records was part of my weekly Saturday routine, when vinyl was both King and Queen, and when analog music was so much easier on the ears and a much more enjoyable listening experience. (And one had to actually participate in said experience by flipping the album over after one side was finished playing.) Now I get to replace most of the vinyl I sold or gave away with either 180 gram, remastered versions or pristine used copies found in thrift shops or on the numerous Facebook vinyl user groups I've recently joined. Please indulge me as I "wax" poetic about three new items I recently added to my collection:
This record was a long time coming, but well worth the wait; a solo outing by the brilliant band leader Robert Kidney of the equally brilliant NE Ohio juggernaut blues outfit 15-60-75 aka The Numbers Band, now in their 46th year of playing and recording. This glorious effort was recorded live with only two edits by Tony Maimone at Studio G in Brooklyn. It's like you're sitting in the same room with Robert and his acoustic guitar, ingesting his anguished angle on life. Raw and visceral, emotional and deeply satisfying, this is an album only a man who has lived the blues could produce. If you loved the American Recordings by Johnny Cash, then you must purchase this gem as well.
Major props to Sony's archive label Legacy. They constantly raise the bar in music perfection with their reissue campaigns. Hard not to buy in on one of the greatest live albums ever released -- Van Morrison's must-own It's Too Late to Stop Now -- back in print for the first time in 25 years. This double album was compiled from Van's epic 1973 summer concert tour and featured performances captured in London and Los Angeles. It has been said that his eleven-piece band, The Caledonia Soul Orchestra, which included horn and string sections, pushed Van to his live performing peak. Worth it alone for the Irish Bard's stunning ten-minute-plus rendition of "Cypress Avenue" from his masterwork Astral Weeks. It sounds so good on vinyl, it's damn near criminal.
For many Humble Pie fanatics, Rockin' The Fillmore remains the band's pinnacle achievement. For me, their fifth studio LP remains my favorite. This boogie-rock classic happened to be their biggest seller, too. Guitarist Clem Clempson was left with the daunting task of replacing the brilliant axe meister Peter Frampton, who would solidify his solo mega-stardom with Frampton Comes Alive! For me and my friends, "Hot 'n' Nasty" and "30 Days in the Hole" became minor anthems back in the "heady" days of the early '70s. Former Small Faces vocalist/guitarist Steve Marriot was in fine vocal form throughout, although he collapsed of exhaustion after producing this juggernaut. Stephen Stills played organ on "Road Runner G Jam" and added backround vocals on "Hot 'n' Nasty." My newest slab o' vinyl -- a sealed first edition! -- arrived this past week from friend and Facebook vinyl peddler extraordinaire Sal Nunziato.
If you still have a turntable, please spend some of your music time listening to vinyl. You'll be so very glad you did. And if you're interested in unloading any of your vinyl, do let me know.
Mr. Wright is a content creator and cultural curator. He was a contributor to the Huffington Post, former DJ at David Lynch's Transcendental Music Radio, the former editor of Creem and Prince's New Power Generation magazines as well as a writer of films, fiction, and television. He's also a singer/songwriter who has released five solo albums and one with folk-rock quartet GIANTfingers. And before all of this he was a William Morris agent.