📜 Feature Rudy's 2023 Records of the Year, Part 2--Vinyl Reissues and Record Crawls

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2023 was a banner year for reissues, and Analogue Productions (sold through their retail operation Acoustic Sounds) was again one of the star players. Under their own roof, they got the rights to the Steely Dan catalog, and have been releasing 45 RPM 2-LP sets of the original seven albums on UHQR vinyl in deluxe packaging, as well as on SACD. They also began releasing titles in the Atlantic 75 series, a series of 75 albums to celebrate Atlantic Records' 75th anniversary.

1703901507020.pngAcoustic Sounds has also been supervising reissues series with other labels as well, under the Acoustic Sounds Series. Verve has had an ongoing series and, this year, the Stan Getz/Charlie Byrd Jazz Samba album finally joined the series, along with Bill Evans' Trio 64 and Trio 65, and Wes Montgomery's Smokin' at the Half Note. They also began a series with the Impulse! jazz label (I've gotten a few of those), as well as Contemporary Records. All of these series feature high-quality Stoughton "tip-on" jackets and are pressed at their QRP (Quality Record Pressing) plant in Salina, KS or, as capacity permits, RTI in California.

Craft Records has also had a similar series, similarly featuring all-analog mastering from the original (or best possible) tapes, and high-quality jackets. Blue Note has continued their Tone Poet and Classic Vinyl series as well. The Tone Poets feature the high-quality tip-on jackets with extras, whereas the Classic Vinyl releases are in standard jackets. But in both cases, Kevin Gray has been mastering those at his Cohearant Audio facility in California.

Of these, I can happily say that the following have been excellent reissues that I acquired this year, with great sound and exemplary pressing quality. There may be a few scattered others I haven't listed here. For anyone interested in the titles I'm referring to, I have pointed to the releases on Discogs in the lists below.

John Coltrane: A Love Supreme (Impulse! Acoustic Sounds series, 2021)
Oliver Nelson: Blues and the Abstract Truth (Impulse! Acoustic Sounds series, 2021)
Ray Charles: Genius + Soul = Jazz (Impulse! Acoustic Sounds series, 2021)

Tito Puente: Mambo Diablo (Craft Recordings Latino/Concord Jazz Picante, 2023)
Bill Evans: Sunday at the Village Vanguard (Craft Recordings/OJC, 2023)
Bill Evans: Waltz for Debby (Craft Recordings/OJC, 2023)

Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd: Jazz Samba (Verve Acoustic Sounds series, 2023)
Stan Gets with João Gilberto: Getz/Gilberto (Verve Acoustic Sounds series, 2020)
Bill Evans Trio: Trio 64 (Verve Acoustic Sounds series, 2021)
Wynton Kelly Trio/Wes Montgomery: Smokin' at the Half Note (Verve Acoustic Sounds series, 2023)

John Coltrane: Blue Train: The Complete Masters (Blue Note Tone Poet series), deluxe 2-LP edition
Lee Morgan: Cornbread (Blue Note Tone Poet series, 2019)
Grant Green: The Latin Bit (Blue Note Tone Poet series, 2022)
Lee Morgan: ¡Caramba! (Blue Note Classic Vinyl series, 2022)
Horace Silver: 6 Pieces of Silver (Blue Note Classic Vinyl series, 2021)
Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers: Moanin' (Blue Note Classic Vinyl series, 2021)
Donald Byrd: Electric Byrd (Blue Note 313 Series, 2023)

Art Pepper: Art Pepper + Eleven: Contemporary Jazz Masterpieces (Contemporary Records Acoustic Sounds series, 2022)
Art Pepper: Meets The Rhythm Section (Contemporary Records Acoustic Sounds series, 2023)

Dave Brubeck Quartet: Time Further Out (Impex Records, 2023)

That last title is from another audiophile reissue label, Impex Records, and it was a surprise to see it available, as all anyone ever seems to focus on is Time Out (which I already have in a 45-RPM release). Impex is the label reissuing the Getz/Gilberto in a 2-LP 45 RPM set, produced using the OneStep process (lacquer-to-stamper, without the intermediate metal parts). That was the record I heard on a test pressing at AXPONA this year, and it will finally see release in 2024.

While I didn't buy it, Trio 65 by the Bill Evans Trio was released in the Verve Acoustic Sounds series last year. I have a 45 RPM version on the ORG label already, so I don't need this new one.

In non-jazz titles, I have been working through the Steely Dan UHQR titles Can't Buy a Thrill, Countdown to Ecstasy, and Aja, the latter getting rave reviews from most of those who have heard it.

1703901553521.pngIn the Atlantic 75 series from Analogue Productions, I now have both Phil Collins titles (Face Value and Hello, I Must Be Going) and Selling England by the Pound by Genesis; sound quality varies, as the Collins titles are from Dolby A copies of the original master, and the Genesis being an older album that honestly was not recorded or mixed very well. I will do a more formal analysis of the sound of these remasterings at a later time (probably on another site, but I'll link the articles here), but the pressing quality, as with the UHQRs, is top notch, and the covers are all heavy Stoughton tip-on gatefold jackets.

There are a few upcoming titles in the Atlantic 75 series I am keeping an eye on, like the Genesis Abacab and Trick of the Tail albums, as well as albums from Dr. John, INXS, and a couple others. Some of us are hoping they will expand the series in the future to reissue the Duke album by Genesis, as it has never had a good vinyl pressing given the extended running time. Spreading it over four sides at 45 RPM would be very welcome here.

Finally, what's a "good vinyl year" without an epic record crawl?

I have resorted to Discogs in recent years since it is so much easier to find an exact title and version I am looking for. Yet there are still times I've missed looking through bins in a record store, and I was lucky to come away with quite a good haul back in July and August this year. In new territory (Boulder and Colorado Springs), I lucked upon four stores and had good luck at each of them. The store with the best selection and prices, unfortunately, was having their "going out of business" sale. Between all four stores, I picked up 26 titles...and together they really didn't cost all that much.

Of the titles I picked up, the favorites have been:
  • Grover Washington, Jr.: Soul Box Vol. 1 (as a companion to my Vol. 2 which I've had for decades...so, now my Soul Box has four sides).
  • Lambert, Hendricks & Ross: The Best of Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, which is actually a renamed version of their first Columbia LP The Hottest New Group in Jazz.
  • Joe Farrell Quartet: Joe Farrell Quartet, a beautiful copy both in vinyl and jacket.
  • Eddie Gomez: Power Play, a lite fusion album by this long-heralded bass player who was a long-time regular in the Bill Evans Trio.
  • Airto: Fingers, perhaps his best CTI album.
  • Jean-Luc Ponty: Enigmatic Ocean, something I've had on CD for a while but never bought way back in the LP days. Finally got a clean copy.

Notable Discogs scores this year:
  • China Crisis: Flaunt the Imperfection, the first album of theirs that was produced by Walter Becker of Steely Dan--it's a nice sounding record!
  • Horace Silver: The Stylings of Silver (mentioned in Part 1).
  • Patrick Simmons: Arcade, the solo album from a founding Doobie Bros. member.

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This wraps up a pretty good year, vinyl-wise. If you've enjoyed anything noteworthy or had great record scores this year, let us know in the comments!
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