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Reissues: the Alive, the Quiet and the Incredible

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Last month my record reviews were about the Analog Productions Numbered, Limited Edition 45 rpm Blue Note Remastered LPs. I received an email saying that I should have mentioned the option of picking up the originals since most of them were available for about the same price. That’s a very good point, but I did not have any of them in stereo original mastering. So I thought I would take some time this month to talk about some reissues and how they compare with the originals.

Quicksilver Messenger Service’s Happy Trails

Let’s start with one my favorite records as a teenager, Quicksilver Messenger Service’s Happy Trails album. Quicksilver Messenger Service was one of San Francisco’s leading bands during the psychedelic movement of the mid to late sixties. Happy Trails was released in 1969 following the self-titled debut album. Side A contains a 25 minute, six-part cover of Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love”. Side B of the album consists of a suite of music which runs almost continuous beginning with the Bo Diddley’s “Mona” and ends with “Happy Trails”, the theme from the Roy Rogers TV show.

The reissue I have is by Pure Pleasure Records on 180g vinyl. I compared it with several copies of the Capital recordings. First, I should say that I have found it impossible so far to find a good used copy at any of the record stores I frequent, but after comparing my noisy original to the reissue I think I may try harder.

It’s not that the reissue isn’t nice, it is. In fact, that’s the problem: it’s a little too nice. The vinyl is quiet, the recording is quiet, but it’s just not as alive as the Capital albums. If you’re one of those people who find a few ticks, pops, and even some tape hiss too offensive to enjoy the music, then this is a safe bet and it surely sounded better than my CD copy. For me, I’ll put up with the noise to have it sound more alive.

Rod Stewart Every Picture Tells a Story

During my senior year in high school, the songs from this album seemed to be playing every where you went. So I admit that probably there is a lot of nostalgia going on here. I really like this album, but like the Quicksilver album I mentioned above, most of these that I have found used have been played almost to death. Truth is, the best used copy I’ve found is an early reissue called the “Classic Edition.” So I was excited to see the news that Vinyl Lovers was bringing out a reissue on 180g vinyl.

Not having a very listenable copy of the original, I found the new Vinyl Lovers reissue and the “Classic Edition” to turn out to be very close. Still, in the end the results are just the same, only less of a difference. The Vinyl Lovers reissue has quieter vinyl, the recording also comes across as very quiet, but it’s slightly less alive sounding than the “Classic Edition.” Also, just like before, both reissues sound better than the CD copy I have. In the end, I have the same recommendation: If you have to have quietness, get the one from Vinyl Lovers; if not, look for the cleanest original or the “Classic Edition” you can find.

I could name several other LPs like Chicago, The Bee Gees’ Odessa, and others, but usually I find the comparisons are as I have described above, in fact I would say that is the result about 90% of the time. Though often the reissues, especially the best 45rpms are quite good, and it’s often really hard to impossible to find a good original.

Sonny Rollins Blue Note

Mono 180g 45 rpm 2LPs

Music Matters Ltd.

Musicians:

Donald Byrd, trumpet
Sonnny Rollins, tenor sax
Wynton Kelly, piano
Gene Ramey, bass
Max Roach, drums

Tracks
1. Decision
2. Bluesnote
3. How Are Things In Glocca Morra
4. Plain Jane
5. Sonnysphere

This album is one of the latest two LPs I have received from my subscription of the Music Matters’ limited edition Blue Note 45rpm reissues. They are remastered by Kevin Gray and Steve Hoffman from the Original Rudy Van Gelder Blue Note master tapes. The jackets are beautiful, the liner notes are full of great information, and the vinyl is beautiful.

No, I don’t have the original to compare it to, and I don’t know what they are selling for, but I can promise you this is a great recording. The music and the sonics are both spectacular. Highly Recommended!

The Hot Spot (Original Motion Picture Sound Track)

Analogue Productions/Verve Limited Edition 180g 45rpm LPs

Produced by: Jack Nitzsche and Michael Hoenig
Engineered by: Pamela Neal
Mixed by: Pamela Neal
Mastered by: Kevin Gray at AcousTech

Musicians:
John Lee Hooker, Miles Davis, Taj Mahal, Roy Rogers,Tim Drummond, Earl Palmer, Bradford Ellis

Tracks
1. Coming To Town
2. Empty Bank
3. Harry’s Philosophy
4. Dolly’s Arrival
5. Harry and Dolly
6. Sawmill
7. Bank Robbery
8. Moanin’
9. Gloria’s Story
10. Harry Sets Up Sutton
11. Murder
12. Blackmail
13. End Credits

Can you imagine John Lee Hooker, Miles Davis, and the rest of this all star group of musicians playing in the little town of Paris, Texas? I’ve been to this Paris, and I tell you this can only happen in the movies. The Hot Spot is a movie based on the book “Hell Hath No Fury” by Charles Williams. I’ve never seen the movie, but I tell you this is one great soundtrack.

In addition to John Lee Hooker and Miles Davis, you have Taj Mahal on a few tracks, Roy Rogers playing a great slide guitar. This album has a great vibe; it will move you emotionally. It also is an incredible recording, with great bass, and a beautiful holistic soundstage. Regardless, this is one great LP, don’t miss it!

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