Life is just Cooler with a little Matthew Sweet – On The Path To Vinyl Glory

Originally I was going to do a music memories take on Matthew Sweet and his always fantastic Girlfriend… I still might, but other things have popped up to make this a bit more informational for music fans in general.

matthew-sweet-1991-girlfriend1

First Girlfriend was released on vinyl back in November with a slightly altered track listing. While the CD version contains 15 songs, the vinyl is cut down to 12 for space reasons. It seems that rather than picking and choosing someone’s ridiculous idea of weaker songs, they just dropped the last three tunes from the original 1991 Zoo release. (“Does She Talk?”, “Holy War” and “Nothing Lasts.”) It’s unfortunate really, it may have been a better idea to split the record onto two vinyl discs and add a couple ‘bonus’ tracks rather than remove anything… but whatcha gonna do.

Now I couldn’t find out if this Plain Recordings vinyl was remastered for vinyl or if it is taken from the CD master, but the sound quality is outstanding regardless. Having it burst from turntable to speakers gave me the same energized feel I got back in ’91 when it blasted out of my Walkman on my way to class.

The next two pieces of info are a little bit ahead of the curve this time so, if you are a fan, this is great news.

Last June, Sweet’s Facebook page announced a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a new record. By mid July he had reached his goal and a new record should be showing up around April of this year. It was a pretty good campaign that included rewards such as downloads CD’s coloured vinyl and original artwork by Sweet himself.

kicksweet

Also, Blue Sky On Mars (1997) has been released on vinyl in Europe (by Music On Vinyl), and has just landed here. Amazon has it on a 3 – 5 week delivery, but one of my favorite retailers, Northern Volume, has it in stock now. It’s on 180 gram audiophile vinyl and has a gatefold cover with insert.

bluesky

http://www.northernvolume.com/matthew-sweet-blue-sky-on-mars-180g-audiophile-vinyl-lp-record-from-music-on-vinyl/

If you are unfamiliar with Blue Sky On Mars, it is the last in a string of four records (Girlfriend, Altered Beast, 100% Fun & BSOM) Sweet put out on Zoo, and remain arguably his most well known. On this record he adds elements of the 70’s Todd Rundgren produced Cars to his usual Big Star inspired power-pop for what I’ll call a bit more of a carnival ride atmosphere. It swings in such a way that during the albums heavier moments it reminds you of the blasting rhythms you hear playing from the classic “Polar Express” ride at the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition). Sure, as always, critics have complained that Sweet’s music comes off a little too ‘syrupy’ to make for a lasting impression, but honestly, I’ve always found those complaints to be a bit short sighted. To my ears, he has always had one foot in the guitar driven tunes of the 70’s while the other is standing in the premier pop of Burt Bacharach and Harry Nillson. If anything, as demonstrated by his cover records with Susanna Hoffs, Sweet has a soft spot for the well produced and hooky in all genres.

Anyway, I’ll likely own the vinyl within the week and I highly encourage you to give it a listen.

Where To Buy Shi… Stuff #1 – Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab

Ok, you have started a vinyl collection and you want to get a few of those classic records you loved so much back in the day. Unfortunately, the used copies you found sound like crap and you don’t know where to turn. Well, first place to stop is… http://www.mofi.com/Articles.asp?ID=255

Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab has been around (with a brief absence) since 1977 and are known for making the best quality vinyl on the market. All their vinyl is put together using the original master tapes and then recorded onto the vinyl at half speed to make sure the music is recorded with “greater precision”. Essentially, Mobile Fidelity are the biggest name in the audiophile vinyl market. Actually they have done similar things with CD’s, and over time I’ve come to own a few of their products. You’ll pay a bit more than the standard vinyl and CD prices, but the end result is worth it. 

For the collector out there ‘mofi’ does all of their vinyl in limited edition quantities of 5000, and once an album has ‘sold out’ you’ll see people asking for huge dollars in the re-seller market. (see Joe Walsh/e-bay links below) 

While my first foray into mofi was a ‘silver’ or  CD copy of Joe Walsh’s Barnstorm,

barnstorm

http://www.ebay.ca/itm/JOE-WALSH-MFSL-SILVER-CD-BARNSTORM-Sealed-/360689034658?pt=Music_CDs&hash=item53fabde5a2 

http://www.ebay.ca/itm/Barnstorm-by-Joe-Walsh-CD-1990-Mobile-Fidelity-Sound-Lab-MFCD-777-/130847271833?pt=Music_CDs&hash=item1e771aeb99

it was my quest to find the first B-52’s record on vinyl that got me into discovering the lengths Mobile Fidelity goes through to release a quality record.

b52

As it stands, I managed with only a bit of work to get my hands on a copy. Ordering direct from Mobile Fidelity in Canada is costly. The shipping is almost the price of the vinyl itself. However, if the album is still in print, it can be ordered from your local record retailer, or can be found by online retailers within your country of choice. I got mine from Northern Volume and the shipping was free as my order was over $60. (http://www.northernvolume.com/the-b-52s-self-titled-silver-label-audiophile-vinyl-lp-record-from-mobile-fidelity/)

Overall, when the vinyl is put up against the CD copy I own, the vinyl wins hands down. One listen to the opener “Planet Claire” is proof enough. The keyboard/synthesizer is warm and more present within the mix while the guitar seems to hum with slightly more depth. The result is a record that slaps you upside the head with just how damn fine it is – all over again.