10 Christmas Records (On Vinyl) to put Under the Tree in 2016

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Nat King Cole – The Christmas Song

Let’s face it, most Christmas music is really the same 30 songs repeated by various artists over the years for a little variation. Few artists can claim to have recorded the ‘quintessential’ version of any one tune. However, Nat King Cole is one of those few to have done so with “The Christmas Song” (quite a feat when you consider that there are literally hundreds of covers, ranging from Frank Sinatra to Christina Aguilera and even Twisted Sister.)  His take on the Mel Torme penned “The Christmas Song” is the one that everyone hears in their head and over the air when the holiday season rolls around. Also included are great renditions of “Deck The Halls”, “Hark, The Herald Angels Sing”, and other classics. You can find the standard black vinyl version in all of the usual record stores or, if you are looking to put that special something under the tree, a red and white split coloured wax version is available from Newbury Comics.

Christmas with the Chipmunks

Ok – sure, the lifespan of these particular rodents has far exceeded their “best before” date. However, there is no denying the syrupy pleasure derived from the high pitched glory of “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)”. As much as one can try to hide their embarrassment, these annoyingly cute over-sized rodents put a smile on the faces of those of us who like a bit of laughter included with holiday cheer. Throw this onto Red/Green split coloured vinyl (also at Newbury Comics) and you have a legitimate present to place under the tree.

The Beach Boys – Christmas Album

Funny how changing a few words on a hit song can turn it into an even bigger holiday classic. “Little Deuce Coupe” made it to #4 on the Billboard Charts while the re-written “Little Saint Nick” actually made it to #3 six months later. Side one of the record carries original material that actually stretched the Beach Boys (and more importantly, Brian Wilson) beyond the safety of their surf, cars and girls motif and into some interesting territory. Their harmonies on “Blue Christmas” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” are stellar. A limited run of 1000 copies on green translucent vinyl have been printed for this holiday season.

Bob & Doug McKenzie – Twelve Days Of Christmas

Rereleased only a few days ago as part of Black Friday/Record Store Day, the classic hoser Christmas tune can be found at your local record stores on a red 7” vinyl 45. Interjected into a holiday mix, it never fails to crack a wry smile on the faces of your festive guests. My kids (8 & 12) thought this was the greatest Christmas song ever as they experienced it for the first time the other day.

She & Him – Christmas Party

I’m guessing that the overwhelming success of 2011’s A Very She & Him Christmas has gotten Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward to reconvene for a second Christmas album entitled, Christmas Party. True to form, they playfully go through a diverse mix of holiday tunes as if they’re sitting in your own home to play them. Included are covers of Mariah Carey’s “All I want For Christmas Is You”, Vashti Bunyon’s “Coldest Night Of The Year” and Chuck Berry’s “Run Run Rudolph”. This new album can be found at record stores on red vinyl… complete with a Christmas card from the pair.

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – It’s A Holiday Soul Party

Due to extraordinary demand, Daptone Records has completed a new printing of 2015’s It’s A Holiday Soul Party. Last year’s original release was limited to 10 thousand copies on red translucent vinyl while this new one is on green translucent vinyl and limited to 5000 copies. The late-great Jones and her Dap-Kings cover a few of the standards and mix it up with some astonishing originals. Particularly poignant is “Ain’t No Chimneys In The Projects” which is rather reminiscent of some similar James Brown social commentary on the season.

Frank Sinatra – White Christmas / The Christmas Waltz 7”

This is the year Sinatra would have turned 100. As part of Capitol Records’ celebration, we get this 7” of “White Christmas” and “The Christmas Waltz.” While the Bing Crosby version is the highest selling single song of all time (estimated sales of 100 Million according to the Guinness Book of World Records), the Sinatra cover peeked at #3 on the Billboard charts in 1948. Sure, the Crosby version is better known, but Sinatra’s voice on the Irving Berlin classic soars into places no one else could go… after all, he’s the Chairman of the board. This year’s 45 is on white vinyl.

Run DMC – Christmas In Hollis

A tribute to their home in Queens, “Christmas In Hollis” was originally released in 1987 as part of the first A Very Special Christmas, with the proceeds going to Special Olympics. “Christmas In Hollis” is definitely one of the coolest damn holiday songs to come down the chimney. Sampling Clarence Carter’s outstanding “Back Door Santa”, Run DMC powers through a rap in the city adventure that is full of Mom, money, Santa and a single dog pulling the sled. Another Black Friday/ Record Store Day release, “Christmas in Hollis” is on a 12” picture disc and limited to 3000 copies.

 

 

David Bazan – Dark Sacred Nights

Formerly going by the moniker of Pedro The Lion, David Bazan has been releasing Christmas singles for a number of years now. Wrapped in a cloak of melancholia and simple arrangements, Bazan plays the kind of Christmas music the goes with quiet conversations and sharing a bottle of wine. However, if you want this, you had better act quickly. Only 2000 copies of this record were printed on blue vinyl (with white snowflakes). His own website is sold out. His record companies’ website is sold out. It seems like the last available copies are from various Amazon sites.

Elvis Presley – Elvis Christmas Album

Sure, Presley was known as the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, but his background growing up in the church made him especially well suited to put emotion into the holiday songbook. So much so, this particular Christmas record is the biggest selling holiday “album” of all time, with over 15 million being sold since its 1957 release. Rather than emphasizing the heavier aspects he was well known for, he stretches back to his gospel roots and makes a truly incredible record. You don’t need to be an Elvis fan to enjoy his renditions of “White Christmas”, “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem” and “Blue Christmas.” Over the last few years this record has been reissued numerous times, with each new edition always selling quickly. The 2016 version is on 180-gram red transparent vinyl and would look great under the tree or spinning on the old turntable.

HOW MUCH!?!?!?! or A Christmas Carol (1951)

Wrote this last year, as a part of my first post. Thought I might put it back out there for ya as I’m watching  it now.

A Christmas Carol or Scrooge

The 1951 Alastair Sim Version

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For many years I have stayed up late on Christmas Eve so that I could watch the old 1951 classic black and white version of A Christmas Carol. For me, it is the ultimate holiday movie. While not exactly what I would call family friendly, it does put forward not only the themes of kindness and generosity, but also the desire for redemption.

The movie acts as morality tale, horror film, and holiday movie all in one shot, which pretty much speaks to its lasting appeal. Then of course there is the multitude of versions inspired by both the original Dickins tale, and this film. Bill Murray, Mickey Mouse, the Muppets, Jim Carrey and many many many others have all taken shots at telling this story.

However, from a collectors point of view, beyond the books and movies (movie in Blu-Ray can be had for about $15.99 from Amazon) – what is there?

Glad you asked.

The movie posters!

Yep. The movie posters.

A quick search online and you will find yourself at movieposters.com which is located in Toronto and has a massive selection of movie posters to be had.

Seeing as I’m sticking to the 1951 film, you can find two different reproductions at great price points.

The first is close to your standard sized movie poster at 26” by 39” for $10.99. Standard size these days is 27” by 40” but places that sell posters usually also sell frames that will fit any film poster size.

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Of course, if you don’t have wall space for something so big, you can go with the more classic look poster that is only 11” by 17” which is also $10.99.

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Then, let’s not forget the collectors dream come true – an original poster!

The one selling at movieposters.com is not standard size and does not come cheap. Remember that this movie holds legendary status amongst people that love both old films and Christmas themed films.

The poster itself is 44.5” by 82.5” which is both wider and taller than me – and I’m pretty wide and tall. It also sells for $2874.99; which means, sign up for their newsletter and wait for a 15% off sale because even that will save you a few hundred bucks. Of course, a serious collector will love ya forever with a gift like that, but let’s face it; it is out of the price range for most of us.

 

Some Lips For Christmas… or Imagene Peise (The Flaming Lips) – Atlas Eets Christmas

 

ROUND 1

Back in 2007, the Flaming Lips were still at their peak as they were touring 2006’s At War With The Mystics. So, with a massive backstory written on the CD jacket they put out a Christmas record in very limited quantity under the pseudonym Imagene Peise. The only clue to it being the Lips was a sticker on the plastic wrap that read “Merry Christmas from the Flaming Lips.”

Fast forward a few years and the Lips are doing another limited run of their Christmas record, this time on red translucent vinyl. What is extremely fascinating about Atlas Eets Christmas is just how well the Lips stay in character. Yes they sound like the Flaming Lips, but with the crackles and pops they have added to the record, at times it really does come off as some little known jazz artist that walked straight out of a mid-eastern desert.

So what you get is this instrumental record that is driven by piano and accompanied by synthesizer and sitar. Instead of the usual holiday sentiment poured into your consciousness like a well known Chardonnay you find yourself drinking Port for the first time ever. It’s cigar smoke drenched and kissed with oak in a darkened bar where you sit alone by the window and contemplate the true meaning of that one bright star hovering in the sky.

Or, let’s just say that this isn’t an easily accessible holiday record designed to make you remember roasting chestnuts and singing Rudolph with the family. Nope, it mixes joy with quiet reflections and darker hues of greens and reds that don’t so much shine with a warm glow as threaten to burn. The character of “Imagene” is rumoured to have committed suicide in 1978, and that underlying feel is carried throughout the record.

Personally, I found myself rather mesmerized by Atlas Eets Christmas in much the same way I find some of the darker records in my collection. It isn’t an easy listen, and not one I would pull out while toasting the health of my in-laws as we sit down to our turkey. But, it is a worthy record to pull off the shelf in mid-December after you’ve spent a few hours shopping in an over-crowed mall, that has ‘syruped’ your ears with greetings from Celine and Bolton in some attempt to make you want to buy more stuff from more places. This might be a kind of apocalyptic Christmas record, but sometimes that’s what we need in order to really appreciate what we have.

10 Awesome Christmas Records … available on vinyl

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The holiday season brings out the nostalgia in most of us, and nothing seems quite as cool as breaking out the Christmas wax with a few friends and sharing some good tunes. Since the tactile nature of vinyl makes it a great sentimental gift, here are some great records to acquire for (yourself or) others as you celebrate the holidays.

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John Denver & The Muppets – A Christmas Together

Say what you want about Denver and his antiseptic brand of environmental folk-rock… his work with the Muppets was truly outstanding. Back in 1979, he performed a one-off Christmas Special with the Muppets entitled A Christmas Together, which has never been released onto home video or DVD. Regardless, the soundtrack has become quite the holiday classic.  I mean come on; the admission price is worth it just to hear Fozzy forgetting words and Miss Piggy over-articulating “gold” in “The Twelve Days Of Christmas.” In terms of vinyl, you have some great options if you look hard enough. There is the standard black edition, however; if you are looking for the ‘wow factor’ there is either the more coveted green vinyl or picture disc.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qt3wPl7bdFQ

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Dr Seuss – How The Grinch Stole Christmas

Nothing quite like Frankenstein’s monster (Boris Karloff) narrating a beloved holiday classic… and, of course, you have the singing of Tony the (Frosted Flakes) Tiger (Thurl Ravenscroft) with the most outrageous holiday lines ever… turning this into a ‘must have’. Two separate editions of this classic are available on vinyl for fans. The first has the familiar animated special cover while the other has the Dr Seuss original Grinch version. Both editions have special ‘Grinch Green’ coloured versions available.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgP0aUKlmNw

ROUND 1

Imagene Peise – Atlas Eets Christmas

Back in 2007, the Flaming Lips were still at their peak as they were touring 2006’s At War With The Mystics. So, with a massive backstory written on the CD jacket, they put out a Christmas record in very limited quantity under the pseudonym Imagene Peise. The only clue to it being the Lips was a sticker on the plastic wrap that read “Merry Christmas from the Flaming Lips.”

Fast forward a few years and the Lips have re-released Atlas Eets World, a record that mixes joy with quiet reflections and darker hues of green and red that doesn’t so much shine a warm fire glow as threaten to burn in post apocalyptic flames. Last year’s Black Friday / Record Store Day version was released in translucent red vinyl and is still widely available at your favourite record retailers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RW7IZBUMc8

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Soundtrack – The Nightmare Before Christmas

For those of us who like our stop motion animation specials a little darker in tone than the various Rankin/Bass giggles, The Nightmare Before Christmas provided the annual holidays with a refreshing blast of gothic insanity. After all, nothing says Christmas like skeletons and zombies learning lessons about the spirit of the season. Interestingly, the vinyl versions of this record have only been released as two 180 gram picture discs; making it a very collectible gift for that Tim Burton fan in your life.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPblZa10_Pk

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Big Star – Jesus Christ (10 inch)

This Black Friday – Record Store Day has seen the re-release of Big Star’s epic “Jesus Christ” on coloured vinyl. Originally found on Third/Sister Lovers, “Jesus Christ” has been covered by artists ranging from REM to Blue Rodeo and many points in between.  The 10” also contains six other classic tunes by the power-pop pioneers, making it both a great gift and an introduction to one of the 20th century’s most overlooked and influential bands.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIO3KvvgCqA

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She & Him – A Very She & Him Christmas

A few years back, music hipster M. Ward and New Girl star Zooey Deschanel teamed up as She & Him, putting out a string of albums with a sound reminiscent of well crafted pop songs from the 60’s and 70’s. With that same motif intact, they also released the wonderful A Very She & Him Christmas covering classic hits “Baby It’s Cold Outside”, “Blue Christmas”, “Sleigh Ride” and a slew of others. Last year saw the album rereleased on clear vinyl or, if you don’t mind shipping, Newbury Comics in the US has a special 180 gram vinyl version in translucent green. Limited to 1200 copies, it is sure to be a coveted collectible in the near future.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rz4oG4eh5J0

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Various Artists – Soul Christmas

The 60’s really was the golden era for Christmas music, producing a virtual ton of soul infused classics. Coming out of the southern Stax and Atco record companies was a compilation of some of the era’s biggest soul acts. Led by artists as inspired as Otis Redding and Booker T. & the MG’s, Soul Christmas has appeared on many best Christmas albums of all-time lists. If this album appeals to you, you’re in luck, as it has just been reissued on vinyl this year.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_k5skKLwb8&index=3&list=PLgaJr2id8YsLN8Kn0IzH9seI0rUeltgq3

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James Brown – A Soulful Christmas

As long as there have been great Christmas records, there has also been outstanding contrarian holiday music. Rather than cover the standards or spin the same old cheer with familiar themes, Brown took Christmas in a more observational direction. Starting off with “Santa Claus, Go Straight To The Ghetto”, he would follow it with “Believers Shall Enjoy (Non Believers Shall Suffer)”, “Say It Loud: I’m Black and I’m Proud”, “Let’s Unite The World For Christmas” and “Santa Claus Gave Me A Brand New Start”. It may not be the usual Christmas tunes, but they are all outstanding. A Soulful Christmas was re-released on vinyl last year.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2j9zRrJUPs

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Vince Guaraldi Trio – A Charlie Brown Christmas

For many of us, our introduction to jazz was through Vince Guaraldi and his work with the Peanuts. The music itself takes us on Charlie Brown’s search for meaning amongst all the tinsel and can bring you to tears without any need of the cartoon itself. The playful nature of “Linus and Lucy” and the sadness of “Christmas Time Is Here” are only eclipsed by that incredible performance of “Hark, The Herald Angels Sing.”

As a gift, you have three outstanding options on vinyl. Most record stores carry a special green translucent version. If you are looking for something a little more… um … special; Newbury Comics is selling two different variant editions. The first is a red and white split vinyl while the other is a pink ribbon-coloured copy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6zypc_LhnM

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Various Artists – Phil Spector: A Christmas Gift For You

Music being subjective, we could all argue until we are blue in the face about what the greatest pop-focused Christmas record is; suffice it to say, this one is mine. When Darlene Love breaks into the opening of “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” you get a song that conveys joy, sorrow, hope and yearning all at once. Phil Spector used his ‘wall of sound’ to create an atmosphere rich in texture and emotion.

Last year A Christmas Gift For You was released for Black Friday/Record Store Day on limited edition red translucent vinyl. However, this year has seen another edition made available in a much wider release in both standard black or translucent red. It is well worth the cost.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4EvZOXEoJ84&index=11&list=PLzvFf9lFuV-fdtni_6bi4bq5hSDvSNiMU

 

So this year, instead of giving another ornament to hang on the tree, give the gift of spinning coloured wax. It’s sentimental, sounds great and is the perfect gift for that special someone whose turntable is amongst their prized possessions.

You can also read this at edge.ca

Do Do Doo Lookin’ Out My Back Door or Credence Clearwater Revival – Cosmo’s Factory

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Swamp rock practitioners, steeped in soul and a heavy dose of blues, Credence Clearwater Revival were one of the brightest lights of the post-psychedelic era. They balanced great song writing with a penchant for picking stunning covers and in only four years put out seven studio albums that captured a wide range of emotional upheaval that ultimately captured the mood of their time.

Cosmo’s Factory itself is probably the best of their albums, with a virtual ton of FM classics including “Travelin’ Band” “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” “Run Through The Jungle” “Who’ll Stop The Rain” and the 11 minute cover of “I Heard It Through The Grapevine.”

Of course, it’s well documented that upheaval was also something the band faced within. In fact, the very reason I had never previously purchased CCR was in fact because John Fogerty told me not to. Well, not directly, but he sure had a hate on for all things CCR in the 80’s and made it clear that we shouldn’t. Being an impressionable teenager, I listened. Anyway, I’ve given up on figuring out the politics of this band and have finally decided to take the plunge.

And… what a plunge! Cosmo’s Factory has no less than 129 editions to date. So let’s take a peek at a few purchasing highlights and try to narrow the choices down.

The original 1970 vinyl pressing sold over 500,000 copies in its first six months of release. Needless to say you can find a copy pretty easily, how well it plays will be the real question. It can range from a couple bucks, to… well, again if it’s near mint, you can get a fair price.

Everything in the next decade was simple reissues until 1980. Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab did a complete remaster that year using their half speed recording process. Again, due to age you might find copies while crate digging but the costs will vary wildly. Near mint ‘vinyl and cover’ will set you back anywhere between $75 dollars and up. I even managed to find a reseller offering up an unopened copy for near $200 US.

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By 1984, the CD pounced on the market and in 1986 Digital Compact Classics did a complete remaster for a 24k Gold edition. These CD’s still sell for about $50 in the resale market.

It would be sixteen years before anything big happened again for vinyl lovers.

In 2002, Fantasy Records licensed Analogue Productions to do a remaster of Cosmo’s Factory. Doing strictly reissues from the original analog tapes, Analogue Productions is quite well known for quality work. Their 180 gram version of Cosmo’s Factory still sells for over $90 with some resellers asking for as much as $150. This is where things get interesting. The same two people responsible for this remaster, Kevin Gray and Steve Hoffman, were brought back to do the recent 2014 200 gram vinyl remaster. Furthermore, these two are also responsible for the quality of the 2015 180 gram vinyl Newbury Comics edition that was limited to 1000 copies in red translucent wax. Going through the audiophile sites I’ve seen a couple comments praising their work with one person declaring the recent remasters are superior to the original pressing. The 200 gram vinyl is widely available at record retailers and will set you back about $40 and Newbury still has copies of their 180 gram available for only $20 US.

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So of course it is a great record, and my copy sounds awesome, but now I have an overwhelming urge to get more.

Oh wait, that’s normal. I always have an overwhelming urge to get more.

The Most Expensive Film Ever Made… Until Someone Spent More or The General

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We all have our prize possessions; those items that mean more than some calculated amount. It could be a key, a stuffed toy or a simple picture, and for many there is certainly more than one. So on a shelf of DVD’s and Blu Ray discs stands one of mine. There is no lego or posters to honour it within my home like so many other films in my collection. It has no place of tribute other than it always sits within inches of the electronics in which it is placed for viewing. Despite it being a ‘silent film’ I can’t imagine it without surround sound and even though it is black and white the story is more vibrant than anything I’ve seen since taking a film class in university. The man often credited with creating the greatest film ever made (Orson Welles – Citizen Kane) calls this film the greatest ever made, and who am I to argue.

So here it is folks, Buster Keaton in The General.

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If you’ve never had the pleasure, you really should. It is a stunningly crafted action filled comedy with stunts that one could not believe are real. However, not only are they real but Keaton directs and does his own stunts running around on a moving train. Literally folks! He jumps between box cars, jumps off the moving train, jumps on the moving train, sits on a cow-catcher of a moving train with a railroad tie in his arms, and sits on the trains coupling rods… no safety wires, no studio trickery, coupling rods as train starts moving. HELLO, but that is INSANE!

In its time (1926), it was the most expensive movie ever made. Oh sure, you’ve seen cars planes and even trains blown up over the years in which you’ve watched all kinds of action movies but that is the glory of special effects and a green screen. In 1926, if you wanted it to look real – then you had to do it. So not only is The General one of the greatest “chase” movies ever made, but Keaton actually takes out the whole frickin’ train and a bridge in a scene with 500 hundred extras.

So, I’m not even going to pretend this is a critical movie review and I’m Leonard Maltin… nope! It is hard to be objective when something this good blows your mind.

In a blue case, sits a piece of plastic with encoded information which is decoded in a machine and sent to a screen and speakers. The other day I showed it to my eleven year old with expectations he would get bored after he finished his popcorn. Instead he asked if we could watch more Buster Keaton films. How cool is that!

Just thought I would share… and yeah, it’s a good thing I have more Buster Keaton films.

 

Comes With Big Explosions or Muse – Drones

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It’s hard to gain respect when you are the world’s most bombastic band. Ask ELO or Queen about critical reception and there will always be those critics who point out the over the top nature of such artists. On top of this Muse can’t shake the fact that vocalist/guitarist Matthew Bellamy phrases his singing like The Bends era Thom Yorke and plays flashy guitar reminiscent of Brian May. Thing is, if you were to describe the ingredients of a great sounding record, you could do much worse than those guys.

The only thing that can save artists from the line of ‘artistic achievement’ and ‘unholy disaster’ is a group of songs that both the band and their fans can embrace as “really f’in cool.” So now you have Drones, an album that uses the mechanical bringers of death as a metaphor for the loss of humanity, identity and empathy. It shoots for the stars and attempts to play more like a rock opera on the movie screen than a mere record put out in 2015.

Odd as it seems, they make it work. Sure you get the impression that they listened to a few popular 80’s records along the lines of The Power Station and Foreigner to update their previous sounds, but damn, it’s fun and they sell it with conviction. You might accuse them of being pretentious; an honest criticism in their case, but the basic fact is that Drones is entertainment. Think of it this way, not every war film made is about the consequences of violence; some are released so that people can watch big explosions and stuff popcorn in their face simultaneously…  and there is nothing wrong with that.

So when Bellamy sings “men in cloaks / always seem to run the show / mercy / from the powers that be” you can either roll your eyes or turn up the volume, but there is just no way you can ignore it.

Now for the purchase details.

Muse does know how to treat their fans and make a few bucks. You can buy Drones on all the usual physical mediums or you can buy this gorgeous gem.

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In a tri-fold cover, the deluxe edition contains two 180 gram red vinyl discs, CD, DVD, download card and two litho art prints. It’s pricey and you’ll need to cover shipping… but damn, it looks pretty sweet.

So many choices… or The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Axis: Bold As Love

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The thing about Hendrix is that new fans are born every day. When I was at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame a few years back the Hendrix display was frequented by people of all ages, but especially those of the teenage persuasion. Like the Beatles, the star over Hendrix never dims.

However, when it comes to buying vinyl for Hendrix the choices are both vast and rather confusing. Axis: Bold as Love is a great case in point. Since its original 1967 release in the UK, there have been no less than 137 versions put out across multiple formats. Even its original release had variations from country to country whether it was mono vs. stereo or the cover art itself.

For some reason the French releases put out by Barclay’s all did different cover art for the official Hendrix releases. The French cover art is outstanding, but does add to a bit of confusion when you’re trying to find a definitive version. You need to do a bit of research if you are considering jumping into used copies as there are so many. Also, there have been a few colour vinyl releases of the Barclay cover version recently kicking around that are both unofficial and of questionable quality.

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As for the original cover, there have been a few recent options that would allow you to buy new quality vinyl. Sony had Axis: Bold as Love re-mastered in 2010 for re-release across multiple formats, and in 2013 they re-mastered the original mono version of the album. This 2013 release has been the basis for both 180 gram and 200 gram audiophile vinyl that is widely available now, with the original gatefold cover that opens up and unfolds as a big picture.

Even cooler, Newbury Comics has re-released the mono 200 gram vinyl edition in a limited (2500 foil numbered) translucent orange vinyl. It’s both great looking and great sounding.

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If you are looking to buy some Hendrix on vinyl this is a great way to start. Hit your local record store for the black 200 gram vinyl, or you can click here for Newbury Comics.

Where To Buy Sh.. Stuff #4 – Newbury Comics

A while back I wrote a piece about treating everyday like Record Store Day. Thing is, while I don’t really want to endorse one retail place over another, a good deal of the “new” collectible vinyl I have gotten my hands on has been through Newbury Comics. I get an e-mail, I check out the price, and then decide if it is something I REALLY want.

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However, like RSD itself, it does come with its detractors. There are those people who would argue that having “special” “limited” “collector” or “variant” editions of records raises prices, causes delays in arrivals of new releases and is an overall cash grab. Generally speaking these limited run records do cost a couple bucks more than the common black vinyl editions. There is also the question of how many variants are needed for a single record. Between 2009 and 2014 there were no less than nine official re-releases of Bleach by Nirvana in 180 gram vinyl and in almost all the colours of a rainbow (blue, green, yellow, red, maroon, white and clear). Two of these colour choices came from Newbury itself and both quickly sold out.

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Still, for me the question is, does the vinyl sound good, and is it giving me a unique fan experience. I don’t go to e-bay resellers who charge way above market after the fact, but I do find it interesting what people will charge for what is essentially scalping records instead of tickets.  Of course my ego plays a part as I find it cool to see something I bought for $20.00 have a new asking price of $100.00 and that only 749 other people on the planet own a copy.

At other times, it gives me an opportunity to buy something I wanted to get, but in a different form. In fact, with music moving more towards a digital medium I think a bands best chance to make money from their “true fans” (those willing to spend money for their music) is to provide them with a variety of formats and “special” opportunities to receive their music in a unique way. The other thing is they do make awesome gifts for those hard to buy for people. I gave a copy of A Charlie Brown Christmas in red and white split vinyl to a very happy friend.

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So you see this is where Newbury Comics comes into the picture. For a couple years now they have been offering music fans a chance to get “limited edition” vinyl. The prices are competitive with most record stores for the same records that sit on their shelves and the shipping cost is quite reasonable. To date I’ve never had problems with any of the vinyl shipped to me. As for sound quality, I’ve played Big Star’s #1 Record gold coloured variant against the recent 180 gram edition, and I found both items sounding great… in fact, I’d lean more towards the gold variant as it “seemed” to have a bit of a warmer tone.

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Anyway, new items seem to hit the market every week, and the choices are pretty eclectic ranging from the Coltrane to Nirvana and points in-between. Check them out, you might find yourself signing up to the old mailing list and buying something from time to time. Just don’t be too disappointed if it gets sold out before you get your shot. It’s happened a couple times to me and caused a slight bit of teeth grinding and cursing. But then again, that’s all part of the fun of getting something worth having.

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Some links to past vinyl releases I wrote about that came from Newbury.

https://barrettbitesdotcom.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/episode-one-christmas-and-more

https://barrettbites.com/2015/03/13/oh-woe-is-me-the-rocky-horror-picture-show-soundtrack/

https://barrettbites.com/2015/03/25/which-bleach-is-bleach-nirvana-bleach/

https://barrettbites.com/2015/04/08/you-know-what-they-say-about-blinking-nirvana-sliverdive-7/

https://barrettbites.com/2015/04/16/1-in-so-many-damn-ways-big-star-1-record/

Holy Frickin’ Dinero Batman! Is A DVD Collectors Set really a “Collectors Set”? Batman 66 & Lord of the Rings

batman66

For Christmas I got the most awesome gift of the Batman television series (or Batman ’66) in a Blu-Ray collectors set. The kids and I watch together and laugh a lot and when the subject matter gets ridiculously misogynist as it did in Season 3 with its “straw feminist” depiction in “Nora Clavicle and the Ladies’ Crime Club” we use it as a teachable moment. Even before we started talking about it my eleven year old son was yelling “this episode is horrible – girls don’t act like that!”

Anyway, it’s a pretty cool set that has in addition to the blu-ray discs booklets, playing cards and a Hot Wheels Batmobile. BUT – is it worth anything as a “Collector’s Set? Actually, are any of these DVD/Blu-Ray sets worth anything more than the cost of viewing admission?

batman66cs

If we go back to the Lord of the Rings and their extended editions collector sets we can take a look at popular item amongst fans.

If you bought the gift set that came with replicas of Gollum, Minas Tirith or the Argonath bookends AND you “didn’t open it” it’s worth near a $100.00. However, if like me you own the extended four disc set and watched it many times – you would be lucky to get the price of a cup of coffee. So it’s just best to enjoy the experience of viewing it over and over again.

lorex

Then we have Batman 66. The first thing you need to realize about this “Collector’s Set” is that they made 95,000 of them; which means they are about as rare as seeing a minivan stuck in highway traffic. In fact, the regular set, which was actually selling for more than Collector’s set over the holidays (on Amazon) might actually qualify as ‘more rare’ than it’s better packaged sibling.

Of course, in both cases, it doesn’t stop people from trying to make a few bucks. While Amazon.ca is selling Batman for $200.00, E-Bay has it listed from $180 up to and above $385.00. The same goes for those Lord of the Ring “Gift Sets;” which go for anywhere between $35 and $155 on E-Bay.

lotr3nd3

My conclusions on the whole subject – these things are only worth as much as the sentiment you have for them.