Recent Acquisitions

End of the year, which starts in Germany mid-summer with the sale of Christmas cookies at major supermarkets (go figure), is usually a busy shopping time. I don’t know why that is, but every year I seem to find bargain prices all over the place at a time when things should actually be full price to pull as much money out of customers’ pockets pre-Christmas time as possible.

On top of that I’ve taken to pre-ordering items which are often not delivered until weeks or often months later. I’ve noticed that for some rare material pre-ordering prices are usually substantially lower than one week after release and with material I have on my list that I really want to have, I usually don’t wait.

Additionally, if you hunt around second-hand online sites as much as I do, you know there are times when things on your wish list pop up all at once whereas at other times nothing happens for months. These recent three months have been like that: a lot of items from my wish list showed up, one by one and within a short period of time, and I bought more than I usually do.

Finally, if you collect music you need some sort of budget. This is what I do: I put aside an average amount of cash that I would have spent on media had they been available and restrain myself when stuff I want is still too expensive or not available used. Hell, for one of the items listed below I’ve literally waited years. It’s my dad’s “fault” that I’ve started copying his old-fashioned but more than sensible budget system, putting away money for various categories so I have it when I need it. For example, I know that I’ll need a new washing machine at some point, so I actually save up for it as I go along. Now that mine is starting to cough and spew bilge water, I saved up enough cash these past years to buy a new one. The money in those categories is not moved over to others but stays in there. Example? My Sony TV has lasted much longer than I ever thought it would. So, when it finally goes down the chute, I’ll have enough cash to buy a much bigger and better one. The money for it has been accumulating – bit by tiny bit – over the course of many years.

My music buying budget is much like that. There are actually many months in which I buy absolutely nothing and then there are (wild) bursts of activity, catching up when the prices come down or things become available.

So, let’s have a look at my recent acquisitions, alphabetically arranged. An eclectic bunch of recordings these are…

(01) Abba. “The Complete Studio Recordings”. Polar Music/Universal 2006 (remastered, 9 CDs).

This was actually a mistake, but a good one nonetheless. After I had decided to get the box, much criticism in regard to having missed the chance at remastering these recordings properly notwithstanding, I thought I would be buying the original boxed set of much better quality. See, the site I bought the set from had it listed for under Euro 50 and used the original boxed set’s description to sell it. Actually though, the new (white) box is a budget version of the old (blue) box and after receipt, when I checked the site, they had updated the info. I could have returned it, but for 9 CDs the price was more than adequate and, best of all, the new budget box fits on my shelves whereas the older blue one would not have. What you get are the 9 CDs with all the albums plus rarities, a booklet and a box. That’s it. No nifty packaging, no hardbound book, no DVDs. Just the CDs (same mastering as the original box from last year) in comparatively flimsy cardboard covers with the original album art. The music is, (your mileage may vary) good to great, but only if you attach childhood and teenage memories to it as I do. There are many more people who would probably throw a battle axe at you if you ever dared bring this material into their house than fans of these songs, but I count myself to be among the latter group. Again, be aware of criticism regarding the sound of this set.It’s really not bad at all (!), and much better than any other remasters of the past, but many hardcore fans say that it does not compare to the original CDs sound-wise. In this case I didn’t really care, so off the order went. I haven’t looked back since.

(02) Alexander, Monty. “Alexander the Great: Monty Swings on MPS” (what a stupid title), MPS/Universal 2007 (6 albums, remastered, on 4 DCs), and “The Monty Alexander Trio Live at the Montreux Festival (30th Anniversary Edition)”, MPS/Universal 2007 (digipack, remastered, 20 minutes of previously unreleased material, 16-page booklet).

I’ve been a big fan of the MPS reissues and, along with the Shearing box (see below), these were must-have material. I got them for half of what they go for now and in case of the 4-CD set, that comes out to be 5 Euro per CD. Not bad.

I’ve always been a fan of Monty’s material (although some of it could certainly brighten up any elevator playlist) and I really dig his trio sessions. The Montreux concert shows that Alexander (here together with John Clayton on bass and Jeff Hamilton on drums) did much of his best work while recording for MPS, and the four-disc boxed set proves that. The latter brings together the following 6 original (MPS) LPs: “Here Comes the Sun” (recorded at RCA Studios, NY, on June 6th, 1971), “We’ve Only Just Begun” (recorded live at the Monticello in Rowntowner Motor Inn, Rochester, NY, on December 1st,1971), “Perception!” (recorded live at RCA Studios, NY, on June 18th, 1973), “Love and Sunshine” and “Unlimited Love (a.k.a. Monty Strikes Again)” (recorded live at the Brunner-Schwer mansion in Villingen, Schwenningen, Germany, on October 25th, 1974), “The Way It Is” (recorded live at the Brunner-Schwer mansion in Villingen, Schwenningen, Germany, May 2nd – 6th, 1976), “Estade” (recorded live at the Brunner-Schwer mansion in Villingen, Schwenningen, Germany, September 14th – 16th, 1977). These 6 LPs bring together the trios (incl. Eugene Wright and John Clayton on bass, Duffy Jackson, Bobby Durham, Montego Joe and Jeff Hamilton on drums) as well as some quartet work (with Ernest Ranglin on guitar, Eberhard Weber and Andy Simpkins on bass, Kenny Clare on drums and, in the drumless trio/quartet, Charles Campbell on congas).

If you don’t like Oscar Peterson, you certainly won’t like this set as there are many shades of Peterson to be heard here, but to call Alexander a clone would be more than overstating a case. He’s got a wonderful tone and – what I like best – a soulful approach to interpreting standards that makes him clearly identifiable. Plus, this stuff swings your socks off.

The sound on all of this material is up to the usual MPS/Universal standards for these remasters and although it is certainly louder than previous (re)issues, it preserve the music without killing the tonality.

(03) Brahem, Anouar. “Las pas du chat noir”, ECM, 2002 (CD with slipcase) and “Le Voyage de Sahar”, ECM, 2006.

I love the “Oud”, a stringed-instrument much like a lute, and Brahem – to my knowledge, is one of its chief exponents. He uses his instrument as a solo instrument as opposed to accompanying singers, and recorded in ECM-typical sound (love it or hate it), his Arab-inflected jazz (here I’m not quite sure if the label is at all appropriate or just too limiting) requires concentration and the ability to appreciate the (very) quiet moments in his music. Both CDs are works of beauty and solace and Brahem, supported by Francois Couturier on piano and Jean-Louis Matinier on accordion, creates plenty of those moments. The reservedness apparent here, as it is on many of my other favorite ECM recordings (Tord Gustavsen comes to mind), is astonishing because the musicians are superb. Never do they go overboard and everything they do is done for the music only. These three guys apparently know each other inside out musically and the interplay is sublime. Close listening reveals a load of carefully developed ideas, sounds and melodies and the word “organic”, which has often been applied to these recordings in reviews, is perhaps really the most appropriate term. These two CDs come highly recommended and after much time spent listening to these two recordings, I must say I prfer “Le pas du chat noir”. It’s a more unified recording with more ideas which are to my liking. Still, both CDs are remarkable stuff and likely to stay out of the shelves and next to my stereo for a very long time.

(04) Bregman, Buddy. “Swinging Kicks”. Verve 1999.

Bregman is often faulted (by some) for his work with Ella Fitzgerald and Bing Crosby and I have to concur. For reasons I don’t want to elaborate on here, I never cared much for his writing for the various orchestras he recorded with and the various artists he wrote for. But this CD, which I picked up on a whim (and for the price of a lukewarm cheeseburger) is something different entirely. It rarely happens, but I was blown away by this session. Conte Candoli, Pete Candoli, Maynard Ferguson, Conrad Gozzo, and Ray Linn on trumpets, George Roberts, Milt Bernhart, Frank Rosolino, and Lloyd Ulyate on trombones, Herb Geller, Bud Shank, Georgie Auld, Bob Cooper, Ben Webster, Stan Getz, and Jimmy Giuffre on saxophones, André Previn and Paul Smith on piano. Al Hendrickson on guitar, Joe Mondragon on bass, Stan Levey and Alvin Stoller on drums is a virtual who-is-who of the west coast scene at the time and, to say the least, a stellar line-up with, perhaps, Ben Webster shining the brightest.

This is a fragmentary session (many tunes clock in roughly between one to two minutes) with some incredibly tight arrangements and constant change and surprise. This is certainly a varied bag of goodies. You have horn lines bordering on the aggressive to ones that are silky smooth. And it is quite modern in a lot of places compared to “Swinging Standards”, another Bregman release, which is pretty bland in comparison. It’s almost as if every other tune was arranged by someone else. The frustrating thing is that some tunes just appear to be sketches of ideas that he didn’t have time to flesh out. Others seem like emulations of other big bands. The other day I was listening to Mosaic sets of Ellington and Basie and, funnily enough, quite a bit of that Bregman session fit right in there.

For me, this is/was one of the highlights of the year and it’s recently become the one disc to start me off into the weekends (or those that my workload allow). Great stuff.

(05) The Bassface Swing Trio. “Straight Live”, Rodenstein Records, 2005 (one CD in slipcase, live recording) and “Plays Gershwin”, Stockfish, 2007 (one hybrid SACD, direct-cut recording).

Highlight number two of this year was discovering Thilo Wagner (piano), Jean-Phillipe Wadle and Flo(rian) Hermann swinging it up to a very high standard. I’m going to keep this one short as I’m going to write about this trio in more depth somewhere along the line, but suffice it to say that the “Gershwin” disc is one of the best-sounding I have (it’s a direct-cut recording) and it’s got the music to show for it as well … as opposed to many audiophile recordings that are just musical wank-jobs. This is the real deal if you like your piano trio jazz and it’s always fun to watch hardcore jazz fans try to guess who this is by. They always get it wrong and – so far – everyone has bought these CDs. The (earlier) live recording just proves that they aren’t a one-off and I really hope there’s something in the works for the near or far future. Number one on my list for 2008 is trying to catch these guys playing live, a difficult feat as they hardly ever do (each musician is busy with all kinds of projects). Very (!) highly recommended.

(06) Charles, Ray. “Pure Genius: The Complete Atlantic Recordings”, Rhino/Warner/Atlantic, 2005 (7 CDs, 1 DVD, hardbound book, nifty – albeit useless – packaging).

Suffice it to say that this is just stellar stuff, in excellent sound, which I will be expanding upon in a future post. I was never a fan of the later Ray Charles (often far too polished for my taste), but I always loved his Atlantic stuff from the 50s. Here it is, all of it (not much worthwhile previously unreleased stuff though), and once I had freed the music from the nifty box (it comes in a gimmicky portable record player replica), moved the box to the basement and added the CDs to my shelves, I was off on a week and more of Ray Charles listening extravaganza. Here you have Charles as a leader, a sideman on the “Fathead” (Newman) and Milton Jackson sessions, studio sessions, live work, some outtakes. You name it, it’s on here. The DVD includes Charles’ 1960 Newport Jazz Festival appearance (the quality is mediocre at best, but considering the historic nature of the concert, pretty damn good) and a 2005 interview with the late Ahmet Ertegun. Great stuff!

(07) Danielson, Lars and Mozdzer, Leszek. “Pasodoble”, ACT, 2007 (digipack, 1 CD)

If, like me, you are still mourning the passing of bassist Niels Henning Oersted Pedersen, you can find solace in the fact that Sweden has brought forth an equally capable (with only a few sessions under his belt when compared to Pedersen) melodic and musical player. In this – in my eyes best – recording, he’s paired-up with Leszek Mozdzer on piano, celesta and harmonium. It’s jazz, it’s got Swedish folk elements (lots of them), it’s lyrical, bluesy, rhythmically complex at times and contemplative at others. I have to admit that I’ve gotten a bit tired of ACT’s releases lately because they seem to pair up the same 10 or 20 musicians all the time (just my take and probably far from the truth), but this one is just great (and has great sound as well). Mozdzer has been recording since the early 90s and can hardly be called a “rising star” anymore because of it, but my Polish connections tell me that his stature is that of a pop star in Poland. If record sales are any indication, he must be. I intend to check out more of his stuff and if you have any hints or tips, let me know.

(08) Domino, Fats. “Fats Rocks”. Bear Family Records, 2007 (1 CD in digipack).

After I got the Steve Hoffman remastered Bill Haley compilation years ago (“Bill Haley and His Comets. From the Original Master Tapes”, MCA, 1985), one of the best-sounding remaster jobs I’ve ever heard, which is still available at a bargain price if you look around, I noticed that I didn’t have enough Rock & Roll classics in my collection. So, I read and hunted around a bit and found two bargain-priced compilations (number two was the Little Richard one below) that were also reputed to have great to decent sound. This one here I got for such a small amount of money that I won’t even mention it here (pristine 2nd hand copy) and it would have been worth tenfold. 33 tracks of vintage Domino, mastered by Walter DeVenne and Juergen Crassar to usual high Bear Family standards. Great sound, all the classics … plus a 31-page booklet. This house’s been rockin’ since it got here. Highly recommended!

(09) Eagles. “Long Road out of Eden”. BMG (too lazy to check), 2007. (double-CD in an asinine cardboard slipcase).

Saturn, one of those irritating chains here in Germany did the usual (you won’t believe how many “experts” are working there) and slapped the wrong price sticker onto some. I happened to be there before they noticed and picked one up before they noticed at the cash register (they usually add the prices into the system later and on day one or two just scan in the bar codes). BTW: They also added the wrong price tag to the AC/DC “Plug Me In” 3-DVD box (20 Euro less), so I picked that one up to (Bon Scott to boot, plus oodles of other great stuff).

Having read the reviews, I wasn’t going to pick up the new Eagles, but it’s not really that bad. Shoot me if you like, but I was a fan way back when and despite the whole Eagles machine having mutated into a money-grabbing robot steered by egotistical elderly folks, some of the material really ain’t that bad. I’m surprised at how good they can still get those harmonies to sound, CD 2 is light years better than CD 1 (I think they should have made this a single CD with the good stuff and less bland pop) and altogether there’s a handful of pretty good tunes. Summary: Background music while dusting the place here.

(10) Led Zeppelin. “Mothership”. Atlantic 2007 (double-CD).

This is the first compilation I ever bought to actually understand the discussion going on over at the Steve Hoffman forums. See, people have been either up in arms about this release, or they have praised it highly. Add to it the most recent “Loudness Wars” discussions and an article in the Times Online in which Peter Mew and the journalist commented on various releases of this material and you have people fighting over the quality of past releases and later Zeppelin reissues. Because now I have samples from each (earliest, later and most recent) remastering effort, I could compare myself. My take? The earliest transfers are good to great, the ones in the middle suck big time, and this most recent one is a mixed bag. It’s louder and it’s a bit “weird” at times, but at others the music really shines brightly (no pun intended). “Stairway to Heaven” is a good example. In my eyes, it has never sounded this good. So, if you don’t have any Zep stuff, you now have five main options: You can get the original issues (hard to find and quite costly in some cases), you can pick up any of the later remasters which suck terribly, you can go with this compilation which, for many, is more than good enough and the best of the lot so far, or you can wait for the inevitable remastering of the entire Zep catalog. With all the reunion brouhaha, they’re sure to come next year. Let’s hope they don’t suck (yeah, right).

(11) Little Richard. “Keep A Knockin'”, Repertoire Records 2001.

Second in my so-far three-discs spanning expansion of my rock & roll material (not counting the Elvis 50s and 60s masters). Sound-wise it is more than acceptable although there are probably better (and much more pricey) reissues out there, but the consensus was that this one was pretty decent. It is, has 24 tracks and a meager booklet. It won’t stop me from listening to “I Feel Pretty” (the loudest laugh that ever escaped me was when I heard that one for the first time) on the “The Songs of the West Side Story” (RCA/BMG 1996) though. If you know which character sang that one in the musical and if you happen to be familiar with Little Richard’s antics, you’ll probably see the insane humor in it as well. That’s got to be one of the funniest cover versions in music history. It gets me every time. I always imagine him sitting there, with an evil grin on his face, seconds before he launches into the song after the tutti opening. A true classic in its own right.

(12) Nelson, Oliver. “The Argo, Verve and Impulse Big Band Sessions”. Mosaic Records, 2006 (6 CDs, extensive booklet, unnumbered boxed set).

I admit to being one of those cheapskate people over on the Organissimo Forums who wait forever for these normally limited and numbered boxed sets to pop up in their unlimited state on or other places around Europe. Not all sets do, but when they do, they’re usually to be had at half price or less. A while ago I was alerted by another cheapskate (sorry, mate) to the fact that it was now available and I jumped on it. Although I’m not always happy with the Mosaic sound quality (yes, there have been averagely-mastered sets), this one is a winner in that department. I had a whole year to contemplate if I would jump on it, and I did, but I had my doubts. Some of Nelson’s arrangements are too “modern” for me (I’m more than old-fashioned when it comes to my jazz listening habits and have yet to listen to anything “free” or the like) and have a knack of bordering on the “shrill”, but his material remains within my current listening boundaries. I’m still learning to appreciate the stuff he arranged, but the more I listen, the more exciting stuff I find. You get “Full Nelson”, “Fantabulous”, “Jazzhattan Suite”, “Sound Pieces”, “JFK: The Kennedy Dream” (not entirely recorded by a big band). You also get the Leonard Feather’s Encyclopedia of Jazz All Stars material as well as his various contributions to sets by Shirley Scott (“Roll ‘Em”), his work on a Ray Brown/Milt Jackson/Pee Wee Russell date (“The Spirit of ’67”) and the stuff he did with Jimmy Smith (and Wes Montgomery). Just reading the list you can see that this is about as widely-spread as these boxed sets come, and this one needs time to be explored properly. I haven’t had enough time yet.

(13) Grieg, Edvard (Oppitz, Gerhard). “Complete Solo Piano Music”, RCA Red Seal, Complete Collection Series, BMG Classics, 2004 (10 CDs, brief booklet).

Yes, there are many better interpretations you can get of Grieg’s piano music, but to my knowledge this is the only complete one. I saw that box when it came out at outrageous prices and kept it on my watch list. This late summer it popped up on a second-hand site and I picked it up for, err, Euro 9,99 (list price somewhere around 50). Before I bought it, I read up on Oppitz a bit, a student of Wilhelm Kempf and youngest professor ever at the Munich conservatory. He is primarily known for his Brahms interpretations, has performed everything Schubert ever put on music sheets, and has recorded Carl Maria von Weber pieces for piano and orchestra extensively. I liked a lot of his Brahms interpretations and thought I couldn’t go wrong with Grieg at that price. And I didn’t. You get the complete run of Lyrical Pieces (1-10), Poetic Tone Pictures, Nordic Folksongs and Dances, Pictures from Life in the Country, Ballads, Improvisations, Humoresques, Funeral March, etc. It’s all here. The recording quality is good (a bit subdued), the interpretations are mostly very good (he does play some pieces somewhat faster than I know them from other recordings). An excellent investment at less than a Euro per disc. Recommended as a complete collection. If you want the Lyrical Pieces, for example, in superior form, you need to look into Leif Ove Andsnes or others.

(14) Shearing, George. “The MPS Trio Sessions”. MPS/Universal, 2007 (4-disc set, jewelcase, extensive booklet).

The third of my recent MPS purchases (see Monty Alexander above). You can’t go wrong with Shearing (unless he lays on those strings and everything turns into sweetened soup), especially with trio sessions as presented here. He’s accompanied by Niels Henning Oersted Pedersen on bass and Louis Stewart on drums and this compilation pulls together 5 albums, “Windows” (recorded at the MPS-Studios in Villingen, June 1977), “Miles High” (recorded at the MPS-Studios in Villingen, June 1977), “Feeling Happy” (unreleased, recorded at the MPS-Studios in Villingen, June 1st, 1977 and September 18th, 1979), “Getting in the Swing of Things” (recorded at the MPS-Studios in Villingen, September 19th to 21st, 1977) and “On Target” (with orchestra; recorded at the MPS-Studios in Villingen, September 18th to 21st, 1979 (trio) and November 5th and 6th 1980 (orchestra)).

I’ve got plenty of Shearing, selectively bought upon recommendations as some of his material could well be termed “average”, and I’ve often considered these MPS sessions to be highly underrated, to say the least. After his quintet had broken up, he recorded with this trio extensively in Germany and the results are some of the best later Shearing there is. Shortly after these recordings, he moved shop to the Concord label (some of those recording dates are excellent, others much less so).

These are drumless sessions with an added orchestra (on a few tracks, which are not my favorites by a long shot) that was added to the last session. This is tastefully interpreted swinging and ballad material with many highlights. My favorites are “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” and “Old Folks” (Swing of Things), “Jordu” (500 Miles High) and “Con Alma” (Feeling Happy), but there are many more to be found here. The pre-order price was almost half of the current asking price, but this set is worth whatever you have to pay for it now. By the way: if you happen to have an earlier MPS Shearing collection entitled “Three Originals” (which included “Light, Airy and Swinging”, “Continental Experience” and “On Target”), you have CD 4 of the new box already. The other material from that compilation (with Shearing, Andy Simpkins on bass and Stix Hooper on drums as well as Shearing with, again, Simpkins on guitar and Sigi Schwab on guitar, Heribert Thusek on vibes, Rusty Jones on drums, Chino Valdes on congas and Carmelo Garcia on timbales) is, of course, not on here. Great stuff as well!

(15) Shu-Bi-Dua. “200”. CMC Records, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2003. (remastered 10-CD boxed set).

I refer you to the first post in a series covering pop music in Denmark from the middle 70s until sometime in the 90s. I guess not a single reader here knows these guys. I wouldn’t have bought it if it hadn’t been for the laughingly cheap price of a second-hand copy. I paid under 50 cents per CD and I think the postage cost me (considerably) more than the box! 200 songs, remastered (Danes suck at remastering, although here I’m not sure about the quality of the original material), no booklet. It’s a budget job, but kudos to a band in small Denmark (roughly 6 million inhabitants) for pulling it off. All the classic fun pop is on here, and it brings back lots of memories. For my taste though, it’s just too much from a band I rarely ever listened to. If you are a fan though and want to get lots of their stuff cheap, this one is for you.

(16) Status Quo. “Rockin’ All Over the World”. Mercury/Universal 2005 (remastered).

There is an extensive post regarding my take on Status Quo elsewhere on this site, so I won’t elaborate. Suffice it to say that I was never going to buy any Status Quo album besides the ones I had (they lost me with this release here when it appeared in, what, 1977, I think). They wanted to change their ways, they said, hired a producer, and started “cleaning up the sound” (Francis Rossi). What came out of that was a rather bland-sounding album that had lost the Quo edge, although played live much of this material still rocked the old Quo way. Don’t laugh, but when I saw it for, again, the price of a Cheeseburger, I bought it because all of the remasters’ spines add up to a full portrait of the band. I guess I won’t get that portrait staring at me from the shelf if they don’t reduce the later (remastered) albums to below a Euro each. Yeah, shoot me. Oh, Tim Turan did an excellent job at remastering the Quo material, this one is no exception, but it just didn’t sound right to me in the first place and that trebly quality is in the original recording. Turan did the best he could with it.

(17) Various Artists. “Les Tresors du Jazz: 1956”. Le Chant du Monde/Harmonia Mundi 2007 (10-CD compilation, expertly remastered; cream of the crop stuff).

I’ve written a longer post on this site about this series. Check that one out. This new box, which I apparently pre-ordered at least a year before it actually came out, is one of the best, if not the best of the lot so far. Loads of interesting stuff. It is especially noticeable how jazz began to develop into all kinds of directions that year. Excellent selection by Andre Francis and Jean Schwarz yet again, and the remastering is again superb. It’s a pity that not more people know this series … and that it often gets pushed up to around 50 Euro around European shopping sites shortly after release. I got it for a little over 20 Euro this time, and for that it is a true bargain.

(18) Various Artists. “Saturday Night Fever”. PolyGram 1985 (the Palmaccio remaster).

Yeah, I know. Shouldn’t have and all of that. Palmaccio blew it, but I got tired of waiting for the announced new reissue (which will probably come out when hell has frozen over … and buried the Eagles beneath a thick crust of ice). In the meantime I needed a CD to get a shipment postage free, and this one was it. It’s good enough to be played at low volumes or on my kitchen boom box, but that’s it. Dish washing has been more fun lately. ‘Nuff said.

Yep, and that was it. I know it’s quite a bit to listen to, but it just piled up after months of a somewhat dry season. I don’t expect to be buying anything until next year, when the prices come down for lots of 2005-2007 releases in the usual after-Christmas stock clearing sales. Actually though, these past years my wishlist has been surprisingly short and I can’t shake the feeling that I would need a major incentive to buy into much more stuff. Most of what I wanted I have, major reissuing projects that fit my music taste are not on the horizon, and some others I simply refuse to buy into (the Complete Motown Singles, for example). I’d rather go out for a good dinner or save up for old age, to be perfectly honest. Paying I don’t know what for a couple of silver platters has its limits, and considering some of the more than outrageous prices for much of the material I’d like, I’ll abstain.

Note: If you were waiting for a new entry in the Danish pop series (yeah, right), the next post will be that. Be patient. As an incentive … in it you’ll find out why my family moved all around the globe. Give me another week …

Posted by Volkher Hofmann

Volkher Hofmann (deus62) has been blogging on and off since the 1990s and is all that is left. He loves music, literature, drumming and, most of all, real life. He thinks the open web is much more important than social networks, closed-in ecosystems and other severely commercialized online endeavors.

  1. While most of those are not my usual genre, it looks like you had a great shopping spree. I just went through a similar situation here with my local record store. In October, many CDs & DVDs get marked down and then there are sales too. Why? They need to get the holiday inventory in the door: all the DVD gift sets, the CD box sets, greatest hits CDs , seasonal music…..the list goes on. The best time to buy catalog albums in my area is October thru November, you can get markdowns by 25% AND a sale. The catch is that the markdown and sale is not advertised. You have to be a regular in order to see the pattern.

    I used to have a good situation going from 1998-2001 when my favorite record store (R.I.P – 2 Guys Music) had the “Buy 3, Get 1 Free” deal on used CDs. The routine was to be first in the door Saturday morning and go back for seconds first thing Sunday AM. This was before major retail music stores were accepting used CDs in my area, 2 Guys was the only one. People would bring in tons of CDs Friday during the day and trade them in for cash so they could go out that night. Saturday AM was a treasure trove! Same thing would happen Saturday afternoon and I would clean up Sunday AM. It was all about the timing and the price, which was usually $20 for 4 CDs with the deal.

    A few other things:

    1. I’ve heard the new Eagles and it’s not bad at all. I might pick it up at Wal-Mart (it’s been an exclusive there) for the 2 discs at the nice price.

    2. Thanks to your article on Quo, I started to check them out. I bought a cassette of PILEDRIVER for 99 cents but I haven’t gone farther…..yet.

    3. I have no Led Zep in my collection, I realize that it’s a sin in most countries! I was going to grab that box set that came out a few years ago with all the studio records. Is it worth it? Are those the crap remasters? I haven’t been to Steve Hoffman in a long time so I’ll have to check it out.


    Heavy Metal Addiction


  2. Yo, Steve, nice to have you around again.

    Re the Zeppelin box set: as far as I recall, all of those boxes (big one and, what, later 4-disc one?) use the Jimmy Page remastering. It’s controversial (heavily processed is what I recall reading), but I think it probably sounds OK if you’re not playing it on a high-end system. Lots of these remastering discussions are, after a certain point, a bit overblown anyways, bordering on the religious.

    On the SH forum the consensus seems to be that the original Barry Diament masters are the ones to get, if you can get them.

    I think that if you find the box set you should be equally happy on a normal system. Best … have a listen yourself if you can.

    So, how was “Piledriver”?



  3. Volkher,

    Allow me to warn you, should you decide to get te Complete Motown Singles after all. The masterings suck big time and increasingly so with each volume. It’s loud, louder, loudest and harsh, harsher, harshest if you get my drift. After 7 volumes I quit. My migraines are bad enough as it is…


  4. Hans,
    yeah, I read your comments on I completely trust your ears and decided after I read your take on the mastering to refrain. Thanks for that warning … and this one here.

    BTW: It’s a real pity that such great music has fallen – once again – into the hands of those that are either audibly challenged or have given in to corporate pressure.

    P.S.: You have the honor of having been the first person to comment on this new version of, approximately four weeks before anyone else gets to see it. It’s even hidden from that nasty Google bot (usually a good friend). Cheers!

    P.S.S.: Right now, comments on older posts are closed but will be reopened once the site goes live. Then, perhaps, you could post your warning in the Motown post?


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