Being an adult sucks sometimes, especially when you learn that there is a fine line between fun and frivolous. In recent years my childhood love of picture discs and colored vinyl has raised its pretty head with the advent of audiophile colored vinyl and such. But times are tough, so what’s a cash-strapped music junkie to do?
The Flaming Lips are pretty much responsible for my newfound frustration. Not since the heyday of Stiff Records have I seen so many fun vinyl releases coming out in colored variations. Wayne Coyne and company know how to tickle the fancy of record collector fan. But… how do I face the music when they offer my favorite new rock album of the last five years in choices of audiophile 180 gram black vinyl, slightly less audiophile but entirely more fun orange & turquoise vinyl, or a CD plus a DVD Audio disc with surround sound mix in tow?
Thus for the New Year I have resolved (resigned?) myself to go for the:
a) surround mix whenever available.
b) LP if available in audiophile pressings (180 gram, 200 gram, etc.), especially if it offers an enclosed CD or at least an MP3 download for portable use.
c) LP if available in colored vinyl that is especially cool or very limited run, (if it adds a CD or bonus tracks or a download, all the better).
d) CD as a last resort if it is the only option (I will usually wait until I can find it on sale).
So, what are some of my recent and favorite finds or dilemmas faced?
Flaming Lips’ At War With The Mystics
I already have the spectacular DVD-Audio surround sound mixes the Lips have put out but have been tempted by their vinyl offering for the spiffy gate-fold cover art. Accordingly, I think the lovely colored vinyl will get the nod over the audiophile pressing. I went for the Sea Foam Green vinyl pressing of their fun remake of Dark Side of the Moon, which included a bonus CD. It sounds pretty great too.
Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue
I splurged for the pricey but lovely audiophile quality milky-blue heavy vinyl pressing on this one, which includes bonus tracks! No CD or download, but then this is the kind of music I want to sit down and listen to in a quiet room, not while driving or walking on the street. A great investment.
Hums of the Lovin’ Spoonful
I recently ordered Sundazed Records’ uber-limited edition pressing of this classic ’60s pop gem in bright yellow vinyl! I have been impressed with Sundazed’s pressings so far, and this disc comes with previously unreleased bonus tracks, so even though I have an original pressing, I can justify in my mind this purchase. Can’t wait to hear it!
Mojo: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
I first heard an MP3 of Petty’s latest album at a friend’s house and loved it immediately. So when I read about the surround sound mix on Blu-ray audio-only disc, I jumped at it. And I did not regret it — the mix is awesome. Plus it came with a download in either FLAC or MP3 — I went for the former, which is CD-quality lossless, for my portable use. I’ve also read great things about the LP version of Mojo, but I think that is going to have to wait until I find it seriously on sale or used somewhere.
Smile: Brian Wilson
I’ve purchased this one on CD at least five times, as I find myself giving it to friends that I feel need to hear this spectacular release from the founder and creative mind behind The Beach Boys. But… when I read that Brian did a special analog-only mix for the vinyl version, I sought that out. And it’s fantastic — definitive even. Fat and warm, the harmonies and wild musical turns are bigger than ever. Of course a week after I bought the domestic Rhino pressing, a friend gave me a UK pressing on vinyl (on the Nonsuch Label over there) so now I have the dilemma of deciding which vinyl version is better. Both look fab, with blue silver foil artwork and such. And I still have the CD for portable use.
While we’re at it, I will say that you should seek out the DVD-Audio disc of WIlson’s earlier landmark, Pet Sounds (Beach Boys), which includes the original mono mix in high resolution audio as well as fabulous 5.1 surround mix (and the great stereo mix, too), plus wealth of bonus tracks. It is must have for any Wilson fan.
King Crimson: 40th Anniversary Reissue Series
This was easier to decide than I thought. These reissues — with pretty spectacular 5.1 surround mixes on DVD-Audio (as well as high resolution stereo original mixes and remixes) — are so well done I am pretty much purging my collection of the original LPs, the covers of which were cool but not essential to have in LP form, for the most part. The LPs I will keep are my mint original Atlantic pressing of In The Court of the Crimson King (with its textured cover) and the lovely laminated cover version of Lizard. But thus far I have all of the deluxe reissues and the surround mixes are outstanding, and in at least one case revelatory — I now really like Lizard. Can’t wait to hear the early 80s albums (Discipline, Beat, 3 of a Perfect Pair) with Adrian Belew and Tony Levin in surround.
How do you make choices like this? Leave a comment and let us know!