vinyl record review

ZZ Top’s Eliminator Review

When you set out to buy vinyl records, it’s nice to have an album review now and then to refresh our overwhelmed baby boomer memories. I still like to buy records even if some people think that turntables and vinyl records are a thing of the past, and this is one of my all-time favorites.

I Can’t Help but Dance could be the also known as title for Eliminator, the outstanding album by quintessential favorites ZZ Top. Beating odds akin to divorce statistics, this band has the unique distinction of being one of the few that have been together for 35 years complete with their original members. For only being three eccentric-looking guys, they pack a wallop of classic rock and roll sound from their trademark custom guitars.

Gimme All Your Lovin’, Got Me Under Pressure, Sharp Dressed Man, I Got the Six, Legs, Dirty Dog, If You Could Only Flag Her Down, and Bad Girl are all foot-stompin’, hip-wigglin’ tunes that command even the worst of really bad dancers to the floor to strut their stuff. I Need You Tonight is as rock and roll as a ballad can be and still maintain the required compassion. Thug features all the synthesized electronic machismo that 1983 had to offer sounding like a cross between Santana and a Jamaican reggae band. TV Dinners captures more of their original pre-electronic blues sound topped off with inanely humorous lyrics.

The title Eliminator on this album is a bit of an oxymoron since this particular recording did anything but eliminate them from the charts and catapulted the Little Ol’ Band from Texas into commercial success. By refining their original Southern blues rock sound to emanate the electronic resonance that was becoming so popular at the time, they went way over the “top” so to speak, and eventually into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame where they belong.

Benefits to Buying Vinyl Records

vinyl record reviewVinyl records have been used and enjoyed for years. They were out before the CD, which then was replaced with the ability and convenience of downloading an MP3. There are so many benefits to going back to being old school and listening to vinyl.

The first benefit you will find when you buy vinyl records is that you will get to enjoy superior sound quality. So many people are under the false impression that a MP3 or a CD will produce better sound than the old vinyl record, but the fact is that the MP3 file and a CD have been compressed and you will find that you don’t get more original and enjoyable sound quality that you will achieve when you listen to a vinyl.

You will also find that the vinyl can give you a certain style which is beneficial. They are very slim and yet large is overall size, but this can make them the perfect choice based on your storage solution. You will find more vinyl on a shelf than you will CDs and if you are looking at building a collection and having an extensive range of genres to enjoy, then vinyl may be the way to go now and moving forward.

The great thing when you buy a vinyl is you have a physical copy of the song or album that you enjoy. While downloading music is great and convenient and sometimes more affordable, you never have a tangible item you can touch and read. With a vinyl you get that item, you can read through the song list and make your selection.

Of course you are investing is what today is considered “vintage.” Vinyl were the top choice for music up to around the late 1970’s when cassette tapes all became the rage. While they may be considered a vintage item, they are increasing in popularity again with turntables being readily available in a number of stores around the world.

The final benefit you may not be aware of is that you can enjoy a good return on your investment when it comes to vinyls. Bear in mind that these can scratch, but if you can get your hands on a superior quality record and hold onto it for a couple of years, you will find it is worth more in the long run. This is ideal for those who are looking to build up their collection.

There are some very important factors to take into consideration when you buy vinyl, especially when buying online. One of the biggest problems faced with records was scratches and to find a record without a scratch is not going to be an easy task. This is why it’s imperative that you only purchase from a reputable company that is managed by an enthusiastic team of record traders.

Take the time to learn as much about the company as you can, this means reading online reviews, reading their about us section and identifying their turnaround and delivery times. See if the company offers a returns policy and their take on customer service.

What is more important is that you need to know you are dealing with a real company that is operated by real people, which is why you are going to want to search their site for a phone number and physical address. Take the time to pick up the phone and speak to one of their representatives before making the decision on whether to buy a vinyl from them or not.

 

vinyl record review

Arguably The Greatest Album Of All Time – Dark Side Of The Moon

When I think of classic Vinyl records, the first album that comes to mind is Pink Floyd‘s Dark Side of the Moon. It was the second album I ever owned – and it changed my take on music forever. I’m certainly not alone in this opinion. For 14 years after it’s release in March 1973, Dark Side of the Moon remained number one on the Billboard album chart. It quite literally changed the face of music for a generation and influenced music recording ever since.

So what is it that made this album so great?

The concept

Pink Floyd have always been masters of the concept album. Their albums are not merely a collection of songs, each album tells a story based on a particular concept. Dark Side of the moon looks into insanity, not only in the individual but in society as a whole.

Following the band’s original front-man Syd Barret’s mental break down and departure from the band , they were in limbo for several years. This had a profound effect on the band. It’s not too ironic then, that the band’s first truly successful album dealt with the issue of insanity. The album was, in a sense a cathartic experience for the band. Little did they know how universal the appeal of this concept would be.

The introduction to the album Speak to Me sets the tone with spoken word, a man talking about his madness. The voice over is backed by the pulsing rhythm of a heartbeat. The introduction moves into the second track Breathe, which looks at wasted youth and the realization that life is fleeting – before we know it time has passed us by.

As the album progresses we are faced with the juxtaposition that exists within society. In our attempt to conform to rules and norms, we lose direction. We lose sight of our real objectives in life. The climax of the story comes with the song Money, here we’re faced with the the irony of modern life. The song begs the question as to what is real sanity, pointing out how insane our concept of success is. It’s a cynical observation of the ideals and aspirations of modern society.

Following Money, the song Us and Them, continues to question the sanity of accepted norms. The song deals with war and conflict, again looking at the irony of civilized ideals. By the time we reach the song Brain Damage, which deals directly with the thoughts of an insane person, we’re left questioning. What is lunacy? Is it a sign of a deranged mind, or is it the world we live in?

The album was intended to be thought provoking both lyrically and musically.

 

Groundbreaking techniques

vinyl record reviewOne of the things that makes Pink Floyd so great is that they were pioneers of many musical and recording techniques. Many of these techniques have become common place today.

In the days when recording studios used 8 track tape to master recordings, Dark Side of the Moon was the first recording to make use of the infinite loop. Today this a common digital tool used by DJ’s and studios. Back then it had not been thought of.

In the introduction to Money we hear the continuous sound of a cash register and coins being dropped into it. Without the use of digital recording, this took some imagination. They recorded the sound of a cash register and coins dropping, then re-recorded it a few times. They joined the two ends of the tape together to make a loop, it was then fed through a reel-to-reel tape player. Using only one reel, the tape was looped around a broomstick and fed back to the same reel – playing continuously.

It was this type ingenuity that allowed Pink Floyd to achieve sounds and effects that were not heard of before. In the age of psychedelic music, Pink Floyd took the lead in creating new electronic sounds that changed music forever.

vinyl record review

This Just In: The Arkells’ Morning Report Is Top Notch!

Canadian outfit The Arkells have been indie-rocking their way into our hearts since 2008 with driving hits like “Oh! The Boss is Coming,” “On Paper,” “Leather Jacket,” and “11:11,” just to name a few of their catchier titles. Now, with the release of their fourth studio album Morning Report this past August, they’ve continued a fine tradition of releasing sweet alt-rock goodness, songs that are both passionate and fun, both true to the band and a delight for their fans. Much like the Arkells’ last outing (High Noon), Morning Report is a rare instance of an album with content perfect for both dedicated rockers and for prime rock radio playback.

The vinyl record sounds crisp and clean, but not TOO perfect, retaining that beloved indie quality and carrying the energy and emotion of the album. Morning Report starts out with one of its highest notes, Drake’s Dad, a fun gospel-influenced tune which combines a fun tale of the band’s drunken revelry with a hopeful, soul driven chorus. The song, like most of the album, casually demonstrates the bands’ command of musical know-how while keeping the tone light, fun, and irresistibly catchy. From there, we launch directly into the darker “Private School,” a unique choice for a single, but one which fits well in the overall tone of the album; the listener will find themselves singing along to “Private School” before they’ve even realized they like it.

The third track, “My Heart’s Always Yours,” stands out with a satisfying full sound that makes full use of each instrument and band member. It is here that the album plays its hand, employing some 80s style synth melodies and effects to capitalize on the recent trend of synthesizers in popular music. Thankfully, the synth is not too heavy-handed, used effectively but in moderation so as not to be the central focus of the song. Then “Savannah” finishes off the album’s first act with a song about a girl, which at first seems a bit mundane, but builds tonally through complex musical layers to a satisfying final chorus.

vinyl record reviewThe middle part of the album jumps around a bit more. “Passenger Seat” is emotional and jarring, with a subtle echo that sounds incredible on vinyl. On the flip side, “Making Due” is light, airy, and a bit forgettable. “Round and Round” is a bit of an earworm, but surprisingly deep both melodically and lyrically, and is to me a highlight of the album bookended by the two weakest songs. “Hung Up” is not bad at all, fun to listen to, but comes across as a bit jumbled, an odd mixture of several different sounds forced together.

The final third of the album is nearly as strong as the first, beginning with “Come Back Home,” which is successful in its simplicity, one of the most emotionally honest and genuine sounds the band has produced (and that’s saying a lot). This is followed by “A Little Rain (A Song For Pete),” an upbeat anthem which capitalizes on the raw shouting vocals, upbeat piano riffs, and classic rock beat that the band made their name with. Morning Report’s final two songs wind down, and will at first disappoint those who wanted more upbeat pop in the vein of High Noon, but ultimately are both excellent. “And Then Some” is incredibly layered, and “Hangs the Moon” is soft, beautiful, and delicate in a way that the Arkells have not achieved before now.

Ultimately, any alt-rock or indie-rock fan owes it to themselves to pick up Morning Report on vinyl, and to check out the previous work of the Arkells if they haven’t heard it already.