As soon as I was old enough to drive I would make regular treks from my parents’ house on the Peninsula to what for many years was one of the country’s great record stores, Tower Records at Columbus and Bay Streets in San Francisco. For a teenage kid with wide musical interests this was like a visit to the proverbial candy store—on steroids. I vividly recall each of the different rooms for the classical, jazz, and rock LPs, the seemingly endless import bins, which always seemed cooler somehow, than domestics, and the difficulty in deciding what I couldn’t afford to spend my busboy’s tips on at any given visit.
Today’s few remaining brick and mortar record stores—even the best of them, such as Amoeba that’s today’s go-to place in this town—can’t compare. The best vintage stuff either never sees the shelves or is very pricey, but they do have a fine selection of new vinyl, CDs, and DVDs. Oh, yes, and like the old Tower stores the walls are plastered with posters.
On the other hand, spend some time perusing the online, or print catalogs, from the likes of Acoustic Sounds, Elusive Disc, and Music Direct and it’s arguable that the well-heeled audiophile has never had it better. The number and quality of today’s reissues— especially in the red-hot two-45rpm-LP category—make it clear that the decisions facing most music buyers today are just as overwhelming as those once faced by that teenage music lover who once found few things as exciting as a trip to Tower Records.
To give you a glimpse of the musical treasures to come today as well as over the next many months we surveyed the major players in the audiophile record business. Here, in alphabetical order, are their planned releases. And for those who prefer silver discs, we’ve also included SACDs.
Chad Kassem and his team in Salina, Kansas, are among the busiest in the audiophile reissue biz—and have been for roughly 30 years. At about the same time you’re reading this issue AP will be releasing a string of impressive titles on LP and SACD.
From the Verve catalog look for 45rpm pressings of The Soul Of Ben Webster, Johnny Hodges’ Blues A-Plenty, and Oscar Peterson’s West Side Story. And on SACD one of the great Ella Fitzgerald records, Let No Man Write My Epitaph, and Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster’s Hawkins Encounters Webster.
Also on tap is a batch of great Prestige mono LPs, including Miles Davis’ Bags’ Groove, Coltrane’s Soultrane and Lush Life, and Sonny Rollins’ Rollins Plays For Byrd, as well as these titles on SACD: Miles’ Relaxin’, the George Wallington Quintet’s Jazz For The Carriage Trade, and Woodlore by the Phil Woods Quartet.