2018 Oyster’s New LPs

This year was a bumper one for reissues as I learned much from my customers, the many outstanding reissues that not only sounded great but some even challenged the originals.  Besides the sure fire heavy hitters labels like AP, MoFi, little Rhino did some amazing work on many classic rock titles. This is really good news to old and new comers. Great analogue sound is certainly not monopolized by mega priced first pressings or hot stampers. 

I follow a funny Facebook page called ‘Prog Snob’. It makes fun of Prog rockers – their music, attitude, look. If Prog rockers have an eccentric attitude then this 3LP set ends all. First of all, there is no labeling on the record (Side A? Side D?) and then the song sequence does not match the listed program on the back cover.  So how should one listen to this live concept LP? In  random order? A+ for prog cockiness.   
PT stands for Porcupine Tree, PT is also Pineapple Thief. Beyond this similarity, the ex-drummer of Porcupine Tree is now playing for this PT. So is the music familiar too? Hell YES albeit less edgy. But credit to this record, it is among Thief’s best work (in 10 years), thoroughly enjoyable ambient, progressive ‘softer’ rock music from end to end.  
The 200g Classic Records reissue of this title has been benefiting eBay sellers for too long and here comes Analogue Production to the rescue although it was some wait to endure. I have no issue in endorsing AP reissues, they are really consistently good and worthy of every inch of the plastic. This is indeed Sarah’s greatest hits in 1 package.  
The highlight show for me this year must be God of Songs Jacky Cheung’s ‘A Classic Tour’ concert.  This double greatest hits package (’83 – ’85) purchase is largely an after effect of the concert. Sonic wise, if you are thirsty for his music, then this so call Abbey Road remastered quenches thirst. Given the unknown/undocumented source (masters), this is probably as good as it gets.      
This March 2018 release celebrates the 40th anniversary of the session musicians turned rock stars – Toto. Greatest hits package usually cannot please everyone  but the 3 new songs are no fillers and the sonic of the old hits are surprisingly well remastered, if not better than the originals.  The downside is the new tracks sounded muted and soft in comparison.   
Also released in March this year,  the Metal Gods released new music and became their highest charting ever. It charted so high because the fans are starving for quality heavy metal music. This LP doesn’t change the holy trinity rankings of Judas Priest catalogue, but a top 5 or just outside of it, it certainly has a place. My only complaint is that it just doesn’t have that old vinyl sound.   
This first time on vinyl issue would attract many of us who owned the original title in Gold CD. This 2 LP set contains many of the label’s most famous works and has enough buying reasons. However, do not expect this to beat the the original (1st issue) or even the 80s TBM reissues. This one lacks the airiness and 3D spaces the originals offer.    

This is not exactly an unplugged but  originals reworked by peeling off complexities with simpler instrumentation while keeping faithful to the original tune. The distilled versions are surprisingly enjoyable and better showed off the song’s strong melodies.  I get the live feeling of a good studio recording in this one which is quite rare nowadays.  Well done Rhino!

This is more like Sunken Treasure than Sunken Condos. A fabulously recorded 2012 release that I somehow completely missed. Although not in the sonic class of Nightfly, this LP is ranked in TAS Super LP List. Content wise, I find it no less groovy with absolutely no fillers. The clear disc is so darn attractive too. If you’ve missed it too, you may have to seek it out at eBay.      
This is probably many record stores best audiophile LP seller of 2018. 
I read that this record was digitally assembled but the sound just defies it. That goes to show that one could produce excellent sounding digital LPs when  enough care and know-how is put into it. 
One minor common complain is the lousy choice of LP cover. Really dull and boring.
Anybody who listens to Yusuf’s 2017 Laughing Apple for the first time would thought that this must have been kept in Cat Stevens’ vault since the 70s. The songs, the sound, the style is all vintage Cat Stevens. His voice hasn’t age a bit. The sound reminisces the good o’ A&M. This apple is good enough to keep spare. 
A customer drew my attention to a revolutionary studio tool called the Plangent Processes Playback System. This amazing system brought back to live many familiar classic records once I thought dead. If you are Springsteen fan, you are in for a treat. Checkout his reissues using this transfer process and you would find the once flat, muddy sound is now filled with air, space, punch and clarity.   
Whether these young lads are the born again Led Zeppelin or Led Zeppelin B-sides, I cannot deny that I enjoyed this EP a lot and more than I did their 2018 debut LP. The high sound quality, the compositions and playing is mature as many old timers. Like them or hate them, this young band has brought a new breed of young rock fans and that can’t be a bad thing.   
I was delighted that Reprise released this ‘first time on vinyl’ LP this year. I recall this was one of my favourite CDs when it first came out in 1997. 
The transfer to vinyl is really good, quiet vinyl, without digital hardness.  However, this no  frills 2 LP set does not come in gatefold and without any inserts or printed sleeves of this reunion concert. A small blip. 
The majority of audiophiles who buy this title want only disc 2 – Starkers In Tokyo, a common hi-fi vocal test disc.  I have high hopes on this one given how good the sold out CD already is and would it be as good as Nils Lofgren’s Acoustic Live? After listening twice, I conclude my little disappointment. I find the program doesn’t flow as well as the CD and the new remix unnecessary. Latter, perhaps bothers only folks who are over familiar with the CD. Overall, it is still a good sounding title but no cigar.  


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