Vinyl Divas: vintage opera diva album art is weird and wonderful

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Vinyl Divas is a comprehensive collection of vintage classical music divas, and it ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous to the sublimely ridiculous. Includes lists by artist name, collection based on themes, and even vanity albums by self-published divas. The fashion, the makeup, the styles, the taste both good and bad... prepare to go down a rabbit hole of 20th century nostalgia. Read the rest

Vintage snapshots of people with their record albums

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Esteemed vernacular photography collector Robert Jackson shares his favorite snapshots of people with their record albums. According to Mashable, "These faded prints and Polaroids recall a time when a new record was a physical work of art to be admired and cherished." I got news for you: That time is still now.

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Britain's new plastic money so hi-tech it can play vinyl records

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In this video, a man plays Abba's 1976 classic Money Money Money using one of the new £5 notes issued in the UK. They're made of plastic.

The new polymer five pound notes have a rather curious ability of being just about able to play vinyl records (with the aid of a contact microphone and small amplifier not shown on screen). As the corners on these new banknotes are more durable and sharper than its paper counterpart it acts like a very crude record needle.

Like a lady barbarian's armor in a computer game, the new fiver doesn't crumple easily or get wet or tear, but still folds, and has a see-through window. "I do quite like them," says a Briton on the street.

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How an L.A. printer kept the art of the album cover alive

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For half a century Los Angeles's Stoughton Printing Company has been considered one of the highest-quality printers of vinyl record packaging in the world, manufacturing album art for the likes of The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, Jack White, Blue Note, and countless other artists and labels who value exquisite quality. Indeed, that's where my partners and I intend to produce the lavish packaging for our “Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition” vinyl box set! Our pal Ben Marks writes about the artisans at Stoughton for Collectors Weekly:

If there’s a secret sauce to Stoughton, one of the ingredients is certainly its people, many of whom have been with the company for a long time, which means the institutional memory at Stoughton runs deep. “Some of our employees have been with us for decades,” Jack (Stoughton) Jr. says. “They’ve seen it all.” Just as important is the fact that for every Led Zeppelin or Jack White, there have been countless other musicians of lesser acclaim who have turned to Stoughton to print their album art and design the packaging encasing their vinyl.

“When we started out,” Jack Jr. says, “we appealed to independent labels and artists. That was our niche. We had one customer, way back when, who sold his car to help pay for his record pressing. We had printed his jackets, so he came out here on the bus from Hollywood to City of Industry, which was about 25 miles eastbound. He probably made five or six bus transfers to get here.

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Alabama Shakes' Brittany Howard shows how they make clear vinyl albums

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This delightful tour of how the United Record Pressing plant in Nashville makes clear vinyl albums is narrated by Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes. Read the rest

Clean old records with wood glue

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Ghettofunk13 demonstrates the old vinyl-lover's trick of deep-cleaning your wax pancakes by spreading the grooves with Titebond II wood glue, waiting for it to dry, and then peeling off the glue-skin and taking all the gunk with it (presumably there is some way of actually playing the music from the intact glue-skin, given sufficiently advanced apparatus). Read the rest

Meet one of the last jukebox repairmen

Perry Rosen turned his passion for jukeboxes into a career. This man knows from motors, vacuum tubes, and turntables. If I had a jukebox, I'd ask Rosen if he could mod it to play with a punch to the chassis, Fonz style. Read the rest

Premiere: Trippy cinematic surf music reissues from 1960s-70s Australia

In 1971, Australian filmmaker Paul Witzig released his fourth surf movie Sea of Joy, celebrating the rise of the short boards. To score the film, Witzig enlisted Sydney band Tully, best known at the time as the backing band for the Australian production of the psychedelic musical Hair. Now, the good people at Anthology Recordings have reissued Tully's "Sea of Joy" soundtrack on vinyl. Here's what they say about the release:

Like many surfers and non-surfers alike, Witzig had been mesmerised by Tully's concert performances. By the time he finished filming his latest surfing epic, Evolution, the sound of Tully had changed though. Gone was the organ-dominated sound (the group was reputedly the first Australian band to use the Moog synthesiser), replaced by more gentle melodies, many with spiritual significance.

Recorded at EMI's Sydney studios, Tully's soundtrack material was subsequently edited for the album release into cohesive musical interludes. As such, they are held together in the album sequence by a magnetic musical flow that starts with “Sea Of Joy (Part 1)” (above) and ends with “Sea Of Joy (Part 2).” Vinyl edition features booklet liner notes by Aussie surf historian Stephen McParland and other-wordly ephemera.

Along with Tully's "Sea of Joy," Anthology Recordings have also reissued Tamam Shud's glorious soundtrack to Witzig's prior surf film, "Evolution."

Pitted. So pitted.

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Dig this portable record player from 1966

I really dig the design of this 1966 portable record player! If I had one, I'd play Manfred Mann's "Pretty Flamingo" on it too.

"You can treat it just like a transistor radio and the sound is free of distortion however you carry it!"

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The coolest portable record players in the world

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Fumihito Taguchi's fantastic collection of vintage portable record players, including the wonderful specimens seen here, will be on display at Tokyo's Lifestyle Design Center from July 30 to August 28. See more at this Fashion Press post and in Taguchi's book "Japanese Portable Record Player Catalog," available in the US from my favorite vinyl soulslingers Dusty Groove. (via #vinyloftheday)

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Incredible LEGO record store by artist Coop

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Our multitalented artist pal Coop meticulously designed and built an indie record shop entirely out of LEGOs! Right this way to Brick City Records!

And yes, he really did make tiny versions of his favorite LP covers in Photoshop, print them on decal paper, and stick them to LEGO tiles for the records:

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Lavish new New Order singles vinyl box on its way

On September 9, New Order will reissue their career-spanning Singles compilation as a remastered four-LP 180 gram vinyl box set or double CD set priced at $70 for the former and $20 for the latter. Tell me now how should I feel. From Rhino:

A decade after its initial release, SINGLES has been refined to become a greatly improved representation of the band's history. The renowned Frank Arkwright (The Smiths' Complete) at Abbey Road has remastered the collection with all audio sourced from high quality transfers.

In addition, SINGLES adds "I'll Stay With You" from 2013's Lost Sirens album and replaces the correct single edits or mixes for the tracks "Nineteen63," "Run 2," "Bizarre Love Triangle," "True Faith," "Spooky," "Confusion" and "The Perfect Kiss." The result is a considerable upgrade on the previous version of the album.

Video above, "True Faith" (1987). Below, "Ceremony" (1981), the song that bridged the end of Joy Division after Ian Curtis's death and the birth of New Order.

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Act opposite Vincent Price and Don Ameche with this curious 1950s vinyl record game

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Released in 1957, Co*Star: The Record Acting Game was a series of 15 vinyl LPs with recordings of actors and other celebrities like Vincent Price, Talulah Bankhead, and Don Ameche performing one role in two-character scenes from movies, plays, and novels. Each record contained a script and you were supposed to act opposite the recordings! In 1977, the game's original label Roulette Records reissued the series. They're available used on Discogs for around $4 - $50, depending on the star and, of course, condition.

You can experience the Vincent Price edition right here.

And below is one person's demonstration of the George Raft edition!

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Iconic NYC record store Other Music to shut its doors

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Other Music, my favorite New York City record store, is closing down after more than two decades in the East Village. Other Music was a hub of avant-garde culture both locally and via their phenomenal weekly newsletter reviewing new releases, from experimental electronica to post-punk indie to freaky psych reissues, and everywhere in between. Whenever I visited Manhattan, I made a beeline to Other Music, and loved hearing staff recommendations (and peeking at what other customers were buying).

“We still do a ton of business — probably more than most stores in the country,” co-owner Josh Madell told the New York Times. “It’s just the economics of it actually supporting us — we don’t see a future in it. We’re trying to step back before it becomes a nightmare.”

Business has dropped by half since the store’s peak in 2000, when it did about $3.1 million in sales, said Chris Vanderloo, who founded the shop with Mr. Madell and Jeff Gibson after the three met as employees at the music spinoff of Kim’s Video in the early ’90s. (Mr. Gibson left Other Music’s day-to-day operations in 2001.)

Rent, on the other hand, has more than doubled from the $6,000 a month the store paid in 1995, while its annual share of the building’s property tax bill has also increased with the local real estate market.

Other Music, I will miss you.

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Fantastic space-age "tube turntable" from 1968

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Behold the space age beauty of the Paam Tube turntable, created by French designer Yonel Lebovici in 1968. On eBay, they appear to be listed in the $700 range or less if they're non-functional.

(via Discogs on Instagram and Paddle8)

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Beatles "holy grail" record sells for $110k

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An exceedingly rare and historically important Beatles record sold at auction today for $110,000. The 78 RPM 10" acetate includes "Hello Little Girl," apparently the first song John Lennon ever wrote (or at least recorded). The flip side is a song Meredith Wilson wrote for the 1957 play The Music Man, titled "Til There Was You." Take a listen below. The Beatles manager Brian Epstein handwrote the label on this particular record that now belongs to an anonymous collector.

From Omega Auctions:

This unique 10" 78RPM acetate record featuring 'Hello Little Girl' on one side and 'Til There Was You' on the other was cut in the Personal Recording Department of the HMV record store on Oxford St, London. Brian Epstein had the disc cut from the Decca audition tapes before presenting it to George Martin (EMI) on 13th February 1962 in his desperate attempt to get them a recording contract. This meeting, despite Martin's initial reticence, was to eventually lead to the breakthrough they were looking for. The disc was later given to The Fourmost to record their own version of Hello Little Girl (recorded 3 July 1963) and then to Les Maguire of Gerry & The Pacemakers (recorded Hello Little Girl 17th July 1963). This is the first time it has come to the marketplace, having been tucked away in Maguire's loft until now. Epstein's handwriting on the labels reads as follows: side 1 Hullo Little Girl, John Lennon & The Beatles, Lennon,McCartney' and side 2 'Til' There Was You Paul McCartney & The Beatles'.

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My brother produced a '60s Malaysian psych-garage rock tribute to Adnan Othman, and you must hear it

Carl Hamm. Photo: Samuel Dixon

THE TL;DR:Bershukor: A Retrospective of Hits by a Malaysian Pop Yeh Yeh Legend” is a new vinyl collection of Adnan Othman's sixties psychedelic rock that was curated and produced by my brother, and released on Sublime Frequencies. In the 1960s, British and American rock was blowing the minds of young Malaysian teens. They listened to radio hits by Cliff Richard and the Shadows, The Beatles, and the Rolling Stones, and a generation of Malaysian musicians transformed what they heard into a new form of Asian rock and roll that was entirely new of their own. The new genre became known as Pop Yeh Yeh, derived from the Beatles lyric, “She Loves You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah).” Berkushor, which means “gratitude” in Adnan's native language, will take you there. It's on Amazon, on forcedexposure, and good ole record stores. If they don't have it in your local vinyl shop, tell them to order it. Sound samples here.

“Bershukor: A Retrospective of Hits by a Malaysian Pop Yeh Yeh Legend Adnan Othman” [Sublime Frequencies]

Adnan Othman, on the cover of one of his original releases.

THE LONGER VERSION:

From the “Bershukor” release notes:

The legendary Adnan Othman has long been a driving force in the Malaysian rock scene. As early as the 1960s his groundbreaking songs in the style known as "pop yeh yeh" (rock and roll sung in Malay) were attracting fans across Malaysia and Singapore.

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