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Rock/pop

Waylon Jennings: Analog Pearls Vol. 1

Analog Pearls Vol. 1
Waylon Jennings: Analog Pearls Vol. 1
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I must like this album, because when people come over it’s one of the first things I play them. It consists of tracks that Waylon recorded in 1964, the same year his first LP was released. The engineer was Floyd Ramsey, the producer Herb Alpert, and the 4-track recording equipment included some RCA ribbon microphones. The “clean tube sound” the liner notes mention isn’t marketing hype; there’s a warmth and presence that complements some sweet-sounding guitars and Waylon’s baritone, which is smoother and more relaxed than during his outlaw years. The country tunes include two strong Waylon originals and the Harlan Howard compositions “Sing the Girls a Song, Bill” and “Sally Was a Good Old Girl.” Waylon sounds equally convincing while interpreting folk songs (Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright” and Ian Tyson’s “Four Strong Winds”), and even the oft-played “House of the Rising Sun” and “Kisses Sweeter than Wine” ring true. This isn’t a perfect album—occasionally the background vocals add a touch of cheesiness—but overall it has a nice, unforced feel to it. The first volume in Stockfisch’s Analog Pearls series, this record has me wondering what else the audiophile German label has in store.

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By Jeff Wilson

This will take some explaining, but I can connect the dots between pawing through LPs at a headshop called Elysian Fields in Des Moines, Iowa, as a seventh grader, and becoming the Music Editor for The Absolute Sound. At that starting point—around 1970/71—Elysian Fields had more LPs than any other store in Des Moines. Staring at all the colorful covers was both tantalizing and frustrating. I had no idea who most of the artists were, because radio played only a fraction of what was current. To figure out what was going on, I realized that I needed to build a record collection—and as anyone who’s visited me since high school can testify, I succeeded. Record collecting was still in my blood when, starting in the late 1980s, the Cincinnati Public Library book sale suddenly had an Elysian Fields quantity of LPs from people who’d switched to CDs. That’s where I met fellow record hawk Mark Lehman, who preceded me as music editor of TAS. Mark introduced me to Jonathan Valin, whose 1993 detective novel The Music Lovers depicts the battles between record hawks at library sales. That the private eye in the book, Harry Stoner, would stumble upon a corpse or two while unraveling the mystery behind the disappearance of some rare Living Stereo platters made perfect sense to me. After all, record collecting is serious business. Mark knew my journalistic experience included concert reviews for The Cincinnati Enquirer and several long, sprawling feature articles in the online version of Crawdaddy. When he became TAS music editor in 2008, he contacted me about writing for the magazine. I came on board shortly after the latest set of obituaries had been written for vinyl—and, as fate had it, right when the LP started to make yet another unexpected comeback. Suddenly, I found myself scrambling to document all the record companies pressing vinyl. Small outfits were popping up world-wide, and many were audiophile-oriented, plus already existing record companies began embracing the format again. Trying to keep track of everything made me feel, again, like that overwhelmed seventh grader in Elysian Fields, and as Music Editor I’ve found that keeping my finger on the pulse of the music world also requires considerable detective work. I’ve never had a favorite genre, but when it comes time to sit down and do some quality listening, for me nothing beats a well-recorded small-group jazz recording on vinyl. If a stereo can give me warmth and intimacy, tonal accuracy, clear imaging, crisp-sounding cymbals, and deep, woody-sounding bass, then I’m a happy camper.

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