Luxury Vinyl Box Sets

Luxury Box Sets

With the recent renewed interest in vinyl, the record labels have started to sit up and take notice. As opposed to the interest in the early 90's which came from DJs, the recent interest seems to have come from a different market or markets.

 Namely

People who buy for nostalgia reasons. They used to buy records and are returning to their youth.

Audiophiles. People who buy them for the excellent sound quality they offer.

Physical Appeal. With the onslaught of digital downloads there is a certain reaction and draw to the most obvious manifestation of music on physical media. People may download music some of these people also want to hold the most attractive format of this same music.

 All of these markets therefore offer a certain incentive to the record companies to produce the highest quality releases of music on vinyl and in the most lavish packaging possible.

 I'm just going to go through a couple of such box sets.

 Warner has been one of the major protagonists here both with their main label and their specialist label Rhino.

 

Cream recently held a reunion concert in the Royal Albert Hall and released the recording of same on a luxury CD/DVD set. They decided to do the same for vinyl. The luxury embossed green box holds three high quality 180g records in their own unique picture sleeves, lovingly cared for by their inner plastic lined paper sleeves. WHile the recording was digital the music has been lovingly transferred to vinyl by Stan Ricker and sounds pretty damn good. Apparently this box now sellsfor 100s of US dollars. The box also kindly includes a print of the cover for you to presumably hang on your wall. Sadly no DVD is included. But there is some bubblewrap!

 

Warner also released the entire output of the Travelling Wilburys on another luxury box. This time through Rhino.

This really is beautiful presentation. Its actually a canvas covered box witha  big sticker of the Wilbury's logo on the front. Inside the box we have three high quality 180g records pressed at RTI. These include the two original albums, Vol.s 1 & 3 and a third EP of unreleased tracks unique to this package. Honestly, there's nothing here that's essential. The music was digitally remastered for this box but doesn't sound noticeable inferior to the original albums which had that dry Jeff Lynne sound. Again the CD package came with a DVD which is not included here. You do however also get a poster, a glossy 12" soft booklet and a setof B&W postcards in their own envelope. This box set really is gorgeous. There's a also a large colour photo of the band inside the top cover.

 

Nick Drake – Fruit Tree

Island recently reissued the much in demand Fruit tree compilation of Nick Drake's three studio albums. At a very decent price this box set includes the three albums nicely presented in their original covers with a bonus DVD, all enclosed ina  new version of the fruit tree artwork. Sadly the 180g pressings are from a digital master and on inferior vinyl from Eastern Europe. It also does not include the 4th LP of outtakes and unreleased recordings that was issued in later Fruit Tree boxes from the 80's, Time of no reply.

 

 Unkle – War Stories

James Lavelle, half of Unkle and founder of legendary trip-hop label, Mo'Wax has alsways been a fan of vinyl and of lavish packaging. Early copies of the very reasonably priced War Stories came in stunning packaging. An outer heavy card slipcase encompasses the inner packaging which opens up like a book and indeed combines a picture book into the packaging. The records themselves are high quality pressings and are contained in an envelope within this inner packaging each in their own inner picture sleeve. There is a later less lavish pressing of this set also. If you can, seek out the original and buy it. The sound quality is also excellent, albeit digital.

 

 Sigur Ros – A Frozen Sea

Sigur Ros albums on vinyl have been fetching silly prices on Ebay in recent years, up to an including the, itself lavishly packaged, Takk triple LP. No doubt sensing an opportunity they decide to release all their albums in a lavish book set with a bonus 12" thrown in. The resulyt was a Frozen Sea. A book style edition which included 7 12" records and a large picture book all with unique artwork. It looks gorgeous. However the vinyl pressings are not great. Despite being 180g they contain quite a lot of surface noise. The price for this is outrageous and teh overall quality does not feel that high, either for the choice of card and paper and the vinyl. Also at the price they really should have included the DVD available in another edition. Released on the strange 'Artists in Residence' imprint it really just feels like a cynical money making exercise.

 Cristina Aquilera – Back to Basics

 Christina

Surprising enough to have a vinyl copy of a Christina Aquilera album, even more surprising is the attention to detail that BMG offered on this release. It is simply gorgeous. Its styled like an old fashioned 'album' from teh 78rpm days. It opens up like a book with each of the three records contained in separate cardboard leaves of the book. Each record has a retro gold label and amongst the soft erotic photos of Christina are photos of her listening to records on an old Gramophone. The music itself has been mastered in such a way as to make it unlistenable. I guess this is what the kids want nowadays! 😉

 

 

That's it for now. I might add in more later on. If you have any you'd like to talk about why don't you tell us in the forum.

 

http://vinylfanatics.com/forum/

Diarmaid O’Meara – Just Go

Diarmaid is, according to the press release, a three turntable wizard with a flair for Intelligent Dance Music. Or that could just be a play on his name.

 This 12" has three versions of Just Go on it. Its difficult to work out the speed of the record so I'm playing B at a frantic45rpm. I enjoyed the A-side, Just go softly, on 33rpm too . 45rpm sounds a bit too fast for this one, unless you really were on a bender. Side A starts off magnificently with a marvellous deep bassy electronic wall of percussion before reaching the central focus of the track, the all engorging violin sample. Its relentlessly repeated and while I like it would like a bit more to happen before the end of the track.

A lot more happens on 'Just go'. Its a harder(as opposed to soft, funnily enough) version of the track and a lot more interesting.There's a more consistent beat to dance to. It keeps the pressure up all along and brings a more industrial feel to the track and a nice spaced out moment about two thirds into the track.

 The Armani remix dispenses with melody altogether and gives us a skeletal percussive soundtrack solely broken up by some guy shouting 'hi' a lot.

 All in all, quite enjoyable.

Gary Reynolds and the Brides of Obscurity – Santiago’s Vest

I don't know much about this singer and band.

 

Its a quirky mixture of sonically interesting experimentation and big big choruses. Its mainly guitar and percussion driven but brings in plenty of organ and some Cello to keep things off the beaten track.

'Capital state' is a slightly paranoid ball of tension, led along nicely by solo piano, haunting vocals and organ. 'Everybody's somewhere' brings in some gorgeous Beach Boy style harmonies that will definitely having you singing along. The pumping percussion and slightly retro sound reminds me somewhat of Supergrass.

'Rolling over' drags us from this reverie into an electric organ spiced three and a half minutes of building repetitive tension. More chiming choruses and tinkling organ ring in the end of side one on 'Wall eyed girl'.

Flip it over and we start off with another jolly singalong, Mrs Lowe. I'm not sure what this is reminding me of but it sounds very familiar and I can't stop stomping my foot and shaking my body. This is in a good way 🙂 Some lovely piano on this as well. 'Where do we go from here' sounds like a continuation.

 We seem to delve into heavy metal territory on 'You are what you see'. A strong guitar riff is sometimes interrupted by a mellower sound, then concentrating on Gary's vocals before kicking in again.A bit of a mosher one this. Would go down great in the gigs.

 'Who do you love' is almost Japan like in its spartan approach. But then it kicks in. 'Wake up sugar' is a lovely cello led ballad to end the album.

 

Gary's vocals are quite raspish which are sometimes effective and sometimes annoying. They are probably exaggerated by the actual recording which is quite harsh. Presumably digital and possibly compressed.

 

Musically its a very interesting album. There are a wide variety of styles and/or influences. Its cinematic at times, straight ahead rock at others. Possibly the closest match is Supergrass with the same shared love of sixties influences and harmonies. And organ! There are musical twists and inflexions all over which keep the listener interested.

 

Its a decent pressing on standardweight vinyl. Interesting picture sleeve but the record is housed ina  normal white paper sleeve. Its a small label and I guess they need to keep costs down. As mentioned above the recording or mastering is quite harsh and would actually stop me from listening repeatedly. Perhaps for their next release they should pay more attention here.

 

RIAA admits vinyl sales are climbing

Nice attention grabbing headline. The following is printed from Wired Magazine. However what the article doesn't say, and the chart does, is that the sales of vinyl have been falling precipitously in the preceding years. There was a 40% drop from 2004 to 2005 for instance. Caveats to this may be that the RIAA does not properly take account of smaller sales from indies and through smaller shops.

There certainly does seem to be a certain buzz about vinyl at the moment and more interest from people who were previously CD only. However there have been similar 'resurgences' in the past(eg. 1998) and I wouldn't be  holding my breath on this one.

 

http://blog.wired.com/music/2008/04/riaa-admits-vin.html

 

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RIAA Admits Vinyl Sales Are Climbing (Updated)

By Eliot Van Buskirk EmailApril 28, 2008 | 12:26:39 PMCategories: Digital Music News, Music News, People  

Riaa_2007 When I asked RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy last October whether the association was seeing a spike in vinyl record sales, he confounded my expectation. "Our numbers, at least, don't really point to a resurgence," he said.

Indeed, the '05 to '06 numbers showed a decline in vinyl sales, but the association's new numbers confirm what we were driving at: vinyl records made a major comeback last year.

According to the RIAA's recently-released 2007 sales report, the American music industry sold 36.6 percent more Extended Play (EP) and Long Play (LP) records than it had in the previous year, increasing vinyl sales revenue by 46.2 percent. CD unit sales, on the other hand, declined 11.7 percent with revenue dropping 20.5 percent during the same period.

I gathered plenty of evidence for this story, and all of it pointed to a vinyl resurgence, which is why the RIAA's response didn't seem to make much sense at the time. Now, it's clear that its numbers just hadn't caught up to the trend. With this report, the vinyl resurgence has been officially acknowledged by the RIAA.

 

http://blog.wired.com/music/2008/04/riaa-admits-vin.html 

Vinyl popular with ipod generation

 http://www.patriotledger.com/archive/x1611215838

 

Vinyl records gain popularity among audiophiles, iPod generation


Photos
Amrelia Kunhardt / GateHouse News Service
There is a resurgence of vinyl record sales. Newbury Comics in Braintree, Mass., has expended its vinyl section in recent months to capitalize on this trend. Jessica Rice, a retail associate at Newbury Comics, stocks the album bins.

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GateHouse News Service
Posted Apr 26, 2008 @ 11:57 PM
Last update Apr 27, 2008 @ 04:11 PM

Eclipsed by CDs and later by online music downloads, the vinyl album is experiencing a bit of a renaissance.
  
Some music stores are expanding their album sections to take advantage of rising sales. They’re tapping demand from audiophiles who swear by an LP’s sonic qualities, and members of the iPod generation who are discovering the novelty of records and turntables.
  
Year-to-date sales of vinyl albums are up 35 percent at the Newbury Comics chain, which has 27 stores in five states. The chain’s stores have been expanding shelf space for LPs, said Duncan Browne, chief operating officer of the Boston-based company.
  
“We only recently started concentrating on the category as something we ought to pour some gas on the fire for,” Browne said.
  
Newbury Comics first reintroduced vinyl around 2000 with a focus on 12-inch dance tracks, but scaled back because of weak demand. After an increase in vinyl sales in 2007, the stores have expanded their record sections in recent months.
  
Vinyl selections at Newbury Comics are predominantly recent alternative rock releases by groups such as the Shins and time-tested classics such as “Led Zeppelin III.”
  
New releases are more likely to contain extra materials such as photographs, liner notes and bonus tracks.
  
Celtic punk band Dropkick Murphys’ latest album, “The Meanest of Times,” is available on vinyl in a “deluxe” two-disc set that includes two bonus tracks and a CD. It sells for $19.99 at Newbury Comics.
 
Alternative rockers Mission of Burma recently reissued three 1980s albums with bonus tracks. Like many new releases and reissues, the album is printed on 180-gram vinyl, which is thicker than the normal 140-gram vinyl used for albums and less likely to warp.
  
Planet Records in Massachusetts has sold new and used LPs since 1983 at its original store in Kenmore Square and its current location in Harvard Square. Owner John Damroth said vinyl loyalists generated sufficient demand even as CDs and MP3 downloads became mainstream alternatives.
  
In the past year, however, Damroth has noticed a new kind of clientele showing enthusiasm for records.
    
“The people who seem to be coming to it now are a combination of late high school and college age people who got hip to it through their parents, and up into the 30-year-olds and older doing it from an audiophile perspective,” Damroth said.
   
Customers in their late 30s and older are the most likely to spend up to $35 for deluxe albums because they came of age listening to vinyl and miss the experience, said Richie Parsons, manager of Newbury Comics’ Braintree, Mass., store.
  
One customer sold his turntable and most of his album collection last year.
  
“Six months later, he came in and said, ‘Why did I do it? The records sound so much better,”’ Parsons said.
  
CD sales still dwarf those of records, with 990,000 new albums sold last year compared with 449.2 million new CDs, according to market researcher Nielsen SoundScan. But album sales did notch a 15 percent gain over the previous year.
   
Joseph Levy, founder of the Vinyl Tourist Web site, has tracked an influx of new record stores in cities like Montreal that have large student populations. Levy, who lives in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., posts store reviews on the site about vinyl-friendly cities.
  
“It’s undergone a resurgence in the last six years, mainly because of a lot of kids are discovering their parents record collections,” Levy said. “Maybe it’s just the novelty of having an album with artwork you can actually see.”
   
Vinyl buffs swear by the sound quality produced by records, describing it as warmer and more natural than CDs and MP3s. While digital recordings are made by encoding recordings into thousands of bits and reassembling them, vinyl recordings reproduce sound in a continuous wave format similar to how the human ear processes sound.
   
“There’s a natural tonality of instruments and voice (that is) more lifelike than any other format,” said Josh Bizar, director of sales for Music Direct. “There’s a warmth in the mid-range, and the high end sounds more natural and lifelike. The bass sounds like it does at a live performance.”
 
Chicago-based Music Direct has staked its fate on the resurgence of vinyl. Through a Web site and a retail store, it sells nearly 4,000 record titles.
  
Most of the sales are in the rock new releases category, which attracts the attention of the 16- to 27-year-old audience.
  
“They’re the group of people that are just now coming into analog, and that’s the most interesting part of this resurgence,” Bizar said.
  
Music Direct also sells nearly 100 turntable models ranging from $99 to $24,000. The newest twist in turntable technology suggests that vinyl enthusiasts can make accommodations with the digital era. Some models now come with built-in USB ports enabling listeners can upload albums to their MP3 players.

Patriot Ledger writer Steve Adams may be reached at sadams@ledger.com.

Record sales

2007: 449.2 million CDs; 990,000 LPs

2006: 553.4 million CDs; 858,000 LPs

 

 http://www.patriotledger.com/archive/x1611215838