Posts Tagged ‘records’

features, Gallery, music

Ten great vinyl only albums – The Beatles, Velvet Underground, The Cleaners From Venus and more

By Stefano on April 5th, 2013

Not long to wait now. Record Store Day is coming a week on Saturday and I’ll be spending that day hunting down  obscure 80s indie singles and long lost psych albums.

And to celebrate – well we have got in a tad early – here is a list of ten of the greatest albums that have are vinyl only and have never had a CD reissue.

Except a few of them have – but either on dodgy low quality bootlegs or in legit reissues that have never ever turned up in the UK.

Anyhow, the best way to hear them is buying the vinyl. Here’s our list. What have we missed?

Velvet Underground - Squeeze £20

Picture 9 of 10
Picture 9 of 10

Squeeze was the album recorded in London by Doug Yule on his own with just Ian Paice from Deep Purple for assistance. Lou Reed had left the band after Loaded, Sterling Morrison was long gone too. Only Mo Tucker was notionally still in the band though she didn’t fancy the trip to England to record Squeeze as she had a young child to care for. Given that it is a Velvet’s album (in name at least) and that Lou Reed isn’t on it Squeeze is often held up as a musical disaster. I think this is largely by musical snobs and hard core Velvet fans who quite possibly haven’t bothered to listen to it. Although he wasn’t on board from the start Doug Yule actually played a very important role in the Velvets. He was a much more amenable bass player than Cale – and his vocals are all over the band’s third and fourth albums. I was quite shocked to discover the other day that my two favourite Velvet songs that aren’t on that peerless debut – Who Loves the Sun? and Candy Says are both sung by Yule. Musically Squeeze is a close cousin of Loaded and on several occasions Yule does uncannily sound like Reed, but there’s a bit more of Beatles influence than Loaded and the band goes deeper into 70s swamp rock than they had before. Suffice to say that had it been by another band it would be a very highly regarded mid 70s rarity. The one absolute undisputed highlight which should adorn any Velvet’s Greatest Hits is Friends, a gentle ballad that had it made the cut for the third album would be hailed as one of the band’s finest achievements. This really is the Velvets – and the Velvets at their best. The album’s closer, Louise, is also a very fine Beatley tune with a really great stomping piano finale. Then there’s the compact Crash, which sounds like it is a distant relative of Martha My Dear from the Fabs White album and She’ll Make You Cry which could be a cover of Merseybeat era Fabs classic. Also interesting is Wordless, which has more stomping piano and a very strong hook of a chorus – it would have made a great single. I also have a soft spot for the opener Little Jack which is one of the best steals of The Stones’ Sympathy whoo whoos ever. Never properly issued on CD - although it did come out as part of a six disc Velvets boxed set - it really deserves a re-run.


Pyle’s stylish new turntable in a briefcase – the PVTT2U

By Stefano on February 14th, 2013

pyle turntableYou might not have heard of Pyle – they are a US based company whose products sell in the UK mainly through Amazon - but if your a vinyl nut you are sure going to like the look of this turntable.

To underline the point that the record player in a briefcase is back – see also here and here - the company has just unveiled the PVTT2U Retro Belt-Drive, USB equipped Turntable that comes in a stylish briefcase.

It also comes with a pair of anti-magnetic speakers built in and a USB port for hooking the deck to your PC and creating MP3 files from your vinyl.

It is powered either by the main or using its battery that is recharged the USB lead to a computer by plugging into a wall outlet using the included AC-USB adapter.

There’s no definite UK launch date, but most of Pyle’s products make it over the Pond, and hopefull that $188.99 price tag will be more £160.

“We pride ourselves on providing the most unique music technologies. We found a way to reach our retro lovers and bring them to the best of the modern age and technology that the music world has to offer,” says Abe Brach president of Pyle Audio.

Specs below

Pyle’s Retro Belt-Drive Turntable Features Include:

• Three Turntable Speeds: 33, 45, 78 RPM
• Belt-Driven Automatic Turntable
• Ceramic Stereo Cartridge
• 45 RPM Adapter
• Two Built-in Stereo Anti-Magnetic Speakers
• USB Port For Connection to PC to Convert Vinyl to MP3
• Stereo RCA Output
• Rechargeable Battery
• Free Audacity Software Included For Vinyl-to-MP3 Conversion
• Dimensions: 10.63” x 13.78” x 4.33”

Gadgets, music

The MP3 player is dying, but vinyl record sales are through the roof

By Stefano on December 27th, 2012

Got an MP3 player? Chances are you don’t use it a great deal as it has been kind of superseded by the Swiss Army Knife of gadgets – the smartphone. With Spotify on mobile devices as well as the seamless integration of iTunes on the iPhone, there doesn’t really appear to be much of a need for standalone MP3 players.

And their decline has been confirmed by figures today from research organisation Mintel which says that sales of MP3 players have fallen by nearly a fifth to £381 million this year compared to 2011. Mintel predicts that sales will halve again by 2017 and virtually disappear within five years.

Samuel Gee, a technology analyst at Mintel, told The Telegraph that the decline in MP3 sales is “unlikely to reverse”.

“It is impossible to talk about the current PMP market without extensive reference to smartphones. The devices have directly contributed to the sharp decline in the value of PMP sales.”

He added that MP3 players are being “steadily outshone” by increasingly affordable new technologies, like smartphones.

I am guessing here, but it would seem that the one MP3 player that still sells well is the iPod nano which maintains a significant share of young women and pre-teens.

One music format which appears to be making a very real comeback is vinyl records. In a wonderful article in The Guardian John Harris put the case for vinyl records and highlights their recent rise in popularity.

We await conclusive British figures for 2012, but last year there was a quantum leap in sales of new vinyl albums, which were 44% up on the figures for 2010. Anecdotal evidence suggests the consumers responsible are not just hard-bitten types – men, usually – of a certain age, but much younger people. And the phenomenon extends across the industrialised world: the same pattern is evident in the UK, the US, Australia, Germany – and even cash-strapped Spain.

Harris makes the point that digital music leaves us in a state of twitchy impatience – hands hovering over the mouse which will move us to the next track. This obviously isn’t the case with vinyl records.

We’ll look at the demise of CD and whether that is a good or bad thing, later in the week. In the meantime I am off to give the above record a spin.

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