For those loyal readers who care about these things, I am going to spend some time making long-overdue changes to the links you see at your right.
I have just completed making the easy changes to the non-blog external website links and will be tackling the more arduous tasks of the blogs soon.
If you want me to link to you, say so below!
Just for the record, the changes:
1. The link to Mercenary Audio is dropped due to their going out of business. For those who don't know, Mercenary was a dealer in high-end recording equipment located outside of Boston. While they were lead by a man called Fletcher, they were notorious for both the excellence of their customer support (doubling length of manufacturer warranties, for instance), the vituperativeness of their opinions towards underperforming and/or over-hyped products and their willingness to assist the inexperienced in coming to sound decisions about building their studios. That I only bought one piece of gear from them is a testament to my income over the years, not to the quality of the gear they stocked nor the advice they gave. I felt that putting a link to their site here was the least I could do after having monopolized a few hours of their time without ever quite being able to put together $2,500 for a nice stereo compressor.
After Fletcher left, the business died and eventually closed. Hence, no need for the link.
2. "The Milkshake Headache Of Vinyl Sites" now sends the "clicker" to a different site. The former receiver of page views is a site called Better Records, AKA DCC Blowout. I linked to it for a simple reason: the site was the first place I found my own experiences in buying and listening to vinyl confirmed. The vinyl enthusiast is constantly bombarded with new releases of new pressings of old music. The fact that the record is on vinyl is enough for most consumers, enthralled as they are with the format in the most superficial manner possible. That some of the new pressings are made from digital masters, or even, gulp, from recordings of older records (replete with pops, crackles, etc.), seems to not affect the reputation of the labels that are exploiting us with this crap. The boom in the vinyl market creates new opportunities to take advantage of new consumers.
Better Records argues simply that a record pressed on good vinyl during the time when vinyl was the predominant format will generally sound better than most new reissues, and also, conversely, that there is generally little benefit to owning a first pressing of a record, especially one that was in print on vinyl for decades. Outside of jazz, I have generally found this to be true, and I have saved a lot of money buying a second press for $5 instead of some $40 200g limited edition blah blah blah.
I have taken down the Better Records site for two reasons. The first is that prices are getting a bit silly. I think I saw a $400 copy of Rumours the last time I visited the site. The second is the sense of mystification behind it. Excluding the justified rants against most audiophile reissue labels, precious little information is provided to those hunting for great copies of their favorite music.
To rectify this, I have changed the link to a website called London Jazz Collector, which, although restricted in its coverage to, well, jazz, provides a wealth of information on identifying pressings that anyone who seeks to buy jazz on vinyl can use to make informed purchases. I am preparing to go on a massive Blue Note* binge and I have found LJC to be invaluable.
There are no records for sale on the London Jazz Collector website.
* To those who care, I am going to start with all the Blue Note sessions lead by Sam Rivers, Andrew Hill, Don Cherry, Grachan Moncur III, Eric Dolphy and Jackie McLean (Bobby Hutcherson, Lee Morgan, Joe Henderson, Tony Williams, etc., to follow). The "inside/outside" period of urbane, avant-garde jazz that Blue Note documented in the 1960s is easily one of my favorite eras of music. If you like music, and want to know more, try these, in relative order of "difficulty":
Sam Rivers - Fuchsia Swing Song
Andrew Hill - Black Fire
Jacke McLean - One Step Beyond
Grachan Moncur III - Evolution
Eric Dolphy - Out To Lunch
Don Cherry - Complete Communion