IN A WORLD of digital discs, some purists still believe things were fine the way they were.
Mobile Fidelity Sound, an audiophile record label founded in 1977, announced at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that it will return to production of a line of high-quality vinyl pressings. The label had been forced off the market several years ago when its vinyl manufacturer switched to compact discs, leaving the label with nowhere to press its LPs.
Major labels have been dipping their toe into resurrecting vinyl, issuing limited-run vinyl editions by such artists as Nirvana and Pearl Jam two weeks before the CD as a way to goose sales.
Mobile Fidelity, based in the Northern California town of Sebastopol, introduced the first original master recording albums, half-speed mastered from the original master tape and pressed on virgin vinyl.
Although the line featured mostly classical music, it did issue a series of high-quality albums by the Beatles, Pink Floyd, the Who, Rolling Stones, John Coltrane and Frank Sinatra.
Mobile Fidelity touts its new system, Greater Ambient Information Network, which connects improvements starting with the tape machine through a redesigned head amplifier for the vinyl cutting system.
The label will issue six albums this year; first is Muddy Waters’ 1963 Chess disc “Folk Singer.” The albums will retail for around $ 18.99.
CEDILLE RECORDS, a small Chi classical label known mostly for its solo keyboard roster, has just taken its first plunge into orchestral recording — with the mighty Chicago Symphony yet.
It will be a live performance of Chi composer Easley Blackwood’s Symphony No. 5 — a pleasing Sibelius-influenced work — with James de Preist leading the CSO. It is coupled with a reissue of a 1958 RCA Victor recording of Blackwood’s Symphony No. 1 (licensed from BMG Classics), played by Charles Munch and the Boston Symphony.
James Ginsburg, founder of Cedille and the son of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, had known Blackwood since he studied harmony with him at the U. of Chicago. Six performances of the Symphony No. 5 were recorded live at Orchestra Hall by radio station WFMT and Cedille edited together the CD from those tapes. Funded entirely through grants from the NEA and the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, this venture cost about $ 80,000 to produce, or roughly eight times the usual budget for a Cedille project.
Founded in 1989, Cedille until now has specialized in keyboard recordings due to Ginsburg’s personal contacts with pianists, harpsichordists and organists. Ginsburg intends to “increase the diversity” of Cedille’s catalog with such ventures as a Tchaikovsky disc with the Vermeer String Quartet (due in the spring). But he will continue to confine his roster to artists from the Chicago area. “There is so much going on here, I’m inundated as is,” he said.
Though one might surmise that last year’s appointment of Ginsburg’s mother to the Supreme Court would boost Cedille’s visibility, Ginsburg says that “it’s really not connected. (National Public Radio reporter) Nina Totenberg did try to plug one of my discs during the Senate confirmation hearings but I don’t know whether it had many sales repercussions.”
RADIO REPORT: The hottest new Top 40 releases are racing up the charts like thoroughbreds competing for the Triple Crown. The contenders: Janet Jackson’s fourth single, “Because of Love,” and the followup singles to debut smashes by Meat Loaf and Ace of Base. For now, Jackson is the clear winner, with Ace of Base a close second and Meat Loaf third.
With every new single release, it becomes more apparent that Janet Jackson can do no wrong. In its two weeks of release, “Because of Love” is already being played on 203 stations that report to the radio trade magazine Network Forty.
Most surprising is the success of the previously unknown Ace of Base. The light reggae/pop of “All That She Wants” broke this Swedish quartet in the U.S. The new single, “The Sign,” blows away any notion that they’re a one-hit wonder: 190 stations are already on the record and it has zoomed into the top 20 of 58 playlists.
Meanwhile, Meat Loaf’s improbable comeback continues with his second single, “Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through.” Backed by another lavish video, the singer is being heard on 166 stations, with 13 of them putting the song in their top 20 .
The litmus-test record this week is Snoop Doggy Dogg’s new single, “Gin and Juice.” It picked up 13 adds last week for a total of 25 stations and it’s already generating hot and heavy requests at many Crossover top 40s, but some programmers are hesitant to play it because the subject matter concerns drinking and driving.
THERE’S NOTHING like businesses and business people who know their audience. Take Hustler magazine and Al Jourgensen, mastermind behind bands Ministry and the Revolting Cocks.
Both rely on the dollars of young, aggressive males who probably also list Beavis and Butt-Head, train wrecks and “Wrestlemania” as subjects of interest. Now, maybe not surprisingly, the mag and the man have come together in what a Hustler press release calls a “landmark issue.”
It’s “landmark” only if a semi-biased critique of men’s magazines — including Hustler and three others owned by Larry Flynt Publications, the same company that prints RIP!, a hard-rock glossy that often features Jourgensen’s bands — is to be considered groundbreaking.
What buyers of this $ 4.99 piece of history get is Al’s unashamed judgments on 20 of this country’s finer periodicals, such as Hawk, Barely Legal and Leg Show. Other dramatic insights, which are decorated by photos of our celebrity reviewer cavorting with a trio of surgically enhanced, nude models, include an observation that an issue of Velvet would cause Tipper Gore to swallow her tongue.
Then there is perhaps his most insightful revelation, that “a naked woman, about eight months pregnant, on a Harley,” as offered in Juggs, isn’t behavior that most people would condone.
Producer/singer/guitarist Jourgensen’s latest musical release is the Revolting Cocks’ “Linger Ficken Good,” issued by Time Warner-owned Sire Records. Staffers at the record company, not surprisingly, refused comment.