We’ve already discussed my conflicted feelings about year-end best-of lists. Thankfully, this post isn’t an attempt at a best of anything, especially 2012, since many of these were released over the past few years and are only recently making their way into my collection. This time of year I just like to reflect on the particularly cool and fun albums I’ve discovered during the year that were unexpected collectible gems. Here are some of my faves.
Velvet Underground’s colored vinyl reissues are definitely one of my favorite buys, because, come on — how cool is it to have a banana-colored first album, White Light/White Heat on white vinyl, and the third in vintage blue with a distinctive (if period inaccurate) 1950s-era yellow MGM Records label?
They average in price from $12-16 depending on where you shop. Nice thick vinyl. Good sound, too!
Rhino continues to wow collector’s with great period-accurate reissues of lost classics, complete with original labels, album art, and nice thick vinyl pressings. One of my favorites finds this year wasn’t a vintage reissue, but in many ways it feels like one: a 2-LP copy of Solomon Burke’s great late-period studio recording with Hi Records founder/producer Willie Mitchell — the guy behind Al Green’s hits and distinctive sound — Nothing’s Impossible. That this album sounds like Burke doing an Al Green record is no accident, and the result is easily the best album Burke had made since 2002′s Don’t Give Up On Me (Fat Possum Records).
If you’re going to reissue The Electric Prunes on vinyl, do it on purple translucent vinyl, I always say. The second one is on blue vinyl too! All for like $12. A steal!
The imported gatefold CD reissues of Procol Harum‘s catalog from a few years back were great and now you can find them pretty cheaply for $10-15 apiece online. Essential!
Robert Wyatt’s albums have been reissued on lovely thick audiophile vinyl, complete with a CD copy. I picked up three of these on clearance in LA and they sound wonderful. I will be picking up most of the others when I can find them and have some coin to spare (they usually run around $25 apiece).
Some copies of the elusive The Flaming Lips with Yoko Ono and the Plastic Ono Band 12-inch vinyl EP finally surfaced late this year and the disc is on colored GLOW-IN-THE-DARK vinyl. How cool is that?
I also found a used copy of Beck’s Guero in a deluxe edition that includes a 5.1 DVD-Audio disc which sounds just super! I never even knew this existed. I assume most of you didn’t know either. One that definitely fell through the cracks. If you liked Sea Change on DVD-A, you’ll probably enjoy this — albeit a bit more upbeat — one.
I scored a copy of Jellyfish’s Spilt Milk on the very limited edition run of 1500 colored vinyl and also got the spiffy Live at Bogart’s 2-LP release on Blue vinyl with the way-neat etched vinyl side 4.
I started collecting LPs by the great Bettye Lavette this year (not just CDs), including a sweet bargain from Sundazed Records collecting her late 60s singles for the Silver Fox label. I also picked up her latest album, Thankful N’ Thoughful from her website , autographed by the Goddess herself, and on 2 LPs spinning at 45 RPM. You can also find that new album in high-resolution download from HDTracks.
I also enjoyed a wonderful surprise gift from a friend. who turned me onto Sweden’s great leader of the band Roxette, who moonlights on many other stellar projects, such as his power pop encyclopedia contained within Son of A Plumber (from 2005)
The year began on a great note, with the spectacular limited edition run from Ominvore Records of a copy of the original acetate track listing of the elusive third album by Big Star. That it came on clear vinyl for those of us who couldn’t get the first pressings on Record Store Day was a big bonus for this collector.
Did you hear the great tribute Joe Jackson did to Duke Ellington? What fun! My only wish is that this great sounding disc had been given better treatment. Regardless, the album is amazing and you need to own it. The Duke is a great addition to your Joe Jackson collection and also a great way to get turned on to Duke Ellington, presented in a fun and modern yet respectable manner that does justice to the music.
Los Lobos’ Kiko was reissued lovingly on CD, but not on LP for some reason. However, the band pulled out the stops and issued a beautiful high resolution audio and video concert, Kiko Live, on Blu-ray Disc. Great music that sounds great!