She’s So Unusual: A 30th Anniversaey Collection (Vinyl) by Cyndi Lauper

May 5, 2014

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Very few debut albums have made the commercial impact as did She’s So Unusual by Cyndi Lauper. Released in late 1983, it produced five hit singles, won two Grammy Awards, and to date worldwide has sold in the vicinity of 22 million copies. Rolling Stone Magazine named it to its list of the 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time.

The album has been re-issued many times and in a number of formats down through the years. It has now reached its 30th anniversary and one of the ways it has been re-issued is as a limited edition vinyl record album.

The sound has been remastered and is pristine. An album released on non-recycled vinyl and played on high quality stereo equipment can sound every bit as good as a CD. In many ways, vinyl is the way that many of these older albums are meant to be heard. There is a nod to the present, however, as the album comes with a free MP3 album download.

The music is the better side of 1980’s pop. Songs such as “Girls Just Want To Have Fun,” “Time After Time,” “She Bop,” “All Through The Night,” and “Money Changes Everything” dominated radio play lists for a couple of years. They may not have changed the course of American music but they were smooth, energetic, and just plain fun pop creations.

The vinyl edition comes with three bonus tracks, all of which were previously unreleased. “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” (2013 Yolanda Be Cool Remix), “Time After Time” (2013 Nervo Back In Time Remix), and “Time After Time” (2013 Bent Collective Remix) are somewhat out of place as they run counter point to the 1980’s flavor of the original album. Still, they are enjoyable modern updates of two of her classic songs.

She’s So Unusual is one of those albums that needs to be heard in its original vinyl format. So dust off the old turntable, climb aboard the time machine, and experience a part of the music world of thirty years ago.

 

 


Open Your Eyes (New Vinyl Edition) by Yes

July 20, 2012

Ah, the smell of fresh vinyl. If you came of age during the CD era you probably never had the experience or joy of the odor of a freshly opened vinyl album. It was memorable and should be experienced by all music lovers at least once.

Vinyl has been making a comeback lately with annual sales now in the millions of copies. Open Your Eyes, by Yes, has just been reissued as a double vinyl LP. It returns on 180 gram heavy-weight vinyl, which has enhanced the listening experience. The sound is crystal clear and if a person possesses a good stereo system, record player, and most importantly a quality needle, then the sound of a record can be the equal of a CD.

Open Your Eyes was the 17th studio album by Yes. The band at the time consisted of singer Jon Anderson, guitarist Steve Howe, bassist Chris Squire, drummer Alan White, and keyboardist Billy Sherwood. Steve Porcaro and Igor Khoroshev also provided keyboards on several of the tracks.

The album is sometimes underrated in the vast Yes catalogue. It contained simpler and shorter songs for the most part. It was also not as cohesive as many of their past releases as the music travelled in a number of directions, which in some ways gave it some charm.

“New York State Of Mind” and the title track were guitar-based and Steve Howe’s solo on the first found him at his creative best. “Universal Garden” was typical Yes as the synthesizer foundation found the band in familiar territory. Harmonies have always been an important part of the Yes approach and on “No Way We Can Lose” they shine. “Wonderlove” was the oddest song on the album due to its quirky structure, but was a prime example of the band experimenting with their sound. Sometimes simple is best and “From the Balcony” is just Howe’s acoustic guitar and Jon Anderson’s vocal.

There are no surprises with this reissue except for the format. The music is upbeat and interesting, but readily available on CD. It all comes down to whether a person wants to collect or experience the music on vinyl.

The music is spread over four sides so don’t forget to turn the records over every now and then.

Article first published as Music Review: Yes – Open Your Eyes [180 Gram Vinyl Edition] on Blogcritics.


Songs From The Road (New Vinyl) by Leonard Cohen

October 1, 2010

Leonard Cohen released his Songs Of Leonard Cohen in 1968, which began his rise to becoming one of the best and most respected singer/songwriters in popular music. This respect culminated with his induction into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame on March 10, 2008.

Cohen has been reclusive at times, virtually disappearing on occasion. In 2008, though, he announced his first tour dates in fifteen years and since then has performed live in many parts of the world. During March of 2009 he released Live In London which presented the up-to-date version of his live show.

He is now about to release Songs From The Road which gathers twelve of his best-known songs from performances in such places around the globe as Israel, England, Sweden, Finland, California, Germany, and his home country of Canada. They were recorded October of 2008 through November of 2009.

This new album has been released in three formats, including CD+DVD, Blu-ray, and in the format of this review, the 2-LP, 180-gram audiophile vinyl with a gatefold jacket. Extensive liner notes and comments about each song serve to enhance the package.

I have always maintained that when produced correctly and played on the proper equipment, vinyl is the equal of a CD. That is the case here as the extra weight of the vinyl gives the sound a crystal-clear quality and clarity which is a necessary ingredient for enjoying a live album.

The material covers all parts of Cohen’s career. “Bird On A Wire,” “Suzanne,” “Famous Blue Raincoat,” “Hallelujah,” plus eight more are given passionate performances by Cohen and his backing band. While there may not be a complete concert feel to the release as the performances come from different shows, each does present him at his live best.

Songs From The Road presents Leonard Cohen live which is the way he should be heard and experienced. It is a double treat to have this release issued on vinyl. A must for any fan of this old song master.

Article first published as on Blogcritics.org


Greatest Hitss 1974-1988 (180 Gram Vinyl) by The Steve Miller Band

April 29, 2009

To paraphrase Robert Duvall as Lt. Colonel Bill Kilgore in the movie Apocalypse Now; “I love the smell of fresh vinyl in the morning.” One of the most unique smells I can remember is opening a record album and sniffing the just opened package. If you have never experienced that pleasure you have truly missed a very unique experience.

Once in awhile a company makes a good decision. In this case, The Capital label has decided to release a number of classic albums on 180 gram vinyl. Thus The Steve Miler Band’s Greatest Hits 1974-1978 returns to its original form.

A 180 gram record is noticeably heavier than the norm and is made from virgin vinyl. Records in the United States from the 1950s through the 1990s were made from recycled vinyl which took away from the overall sound quality. When the music is remastered and issued on this heavy virgin vinyl it sounds as good, if not better than, a CD. The issue is having a good stereo system on which to play it and taking care of the record. This means having a top of the line needle so that the record grooves will not be damaged. Capital has done everything right as the sound is spectacular.

Greatest Hits 1974-1978 by The Steve Miller Band was a good choice for inclusion in this series. It is currently ranked as the 33rd best selling album of all time with 13 million copies sold. Steve Miller started out as a blues/rock fusion type artist in the late 1960s. His albums released from 1968-1971 are still worth seeking out with Sailor being a standout. During the 1970s Steve Miller produced a string of memorable and catchy singles that were gathered together for this album. “Jet Airliner,” “Take The Money and Run,” “Swingtown,” “Jungle Love,” and “Fly Like An Eagle” all represent this slick and very commercial sound.

What it basically comes down too is that if you like The Steve Miller Band you probably have these songs or this album in some form. Purchasing this 180 gram limited edition LP will provide a different experience. It is a trip back to the days of vinyl without sacrificing any of the modern sound.

If Greatest Hits 1974-1978 is representative of the other releases in the series then it will occupy an important and entertaining niche in the music listening and entertainment field.