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From The Fratellis to Bob Dylan: The best vinyl released this week

@DrewAlanWardle1

What was first a regular commodity and essential for parties, eventually became a collector’s antique, and then, later, came back into style; vinyl records happens to be one of the few things that give us a sense of history that humanity has decided we still need to hold onto. Now that mobile phones have become the essential listening device for music while on the go, trends show us that listeners and music fans want to use vinyl when sitting at home.

Vinyl records, and the sleeves that they come in, provide us with the added bonus of an album’s artwork, tangible in our hands; the scratching sound that happens when the needle drops onto the record, is a reminder that we are about to head into another world, someone else’s world – someone who put their heart and soul into making a beautiful album.

This week has proven to be a great one for new vinyl releases as well as the reissues. Here we took a look and made a list of our top 10 favourites.

The best vinyl released/reissued this week:

Half Drunk Under A Full Moon – The Fratellis

The Glasgow indie trio are back with a new record, released on April 2nd, and what it shows us is that they have grown with the times; Half Drunk Under A Full Moon is very modern sounding, utilising basic pop formulas that are heavily present in the industry at the moment.

The Fratellis rose to accidental but no less astronomical stardom in 2006 with their hit ‘Chelsea Dagger’. Fans of the band won’t be disappointed with this new album and it proves that the Glasgow indie demi-gods are still in possession of some very catchy tunes. Worth catching on vinyl.

Sturgill Simpson – Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 2

Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 2 is Sturgill Simpson’s sixth album, released on December 10th of 2020, and was reissued on vinyl this week. The record was originally released on Simpson’s own label, High Top Mountain. 

This album features bluegrass renditions of older songs within his catalogue. Simpson started his career in Nashville, Tennessee writing songs for other artists. In 2013, he released his first album under his name, called High Top Mountain. 

Highway 61 Revisited – Bob Dylan

The legendary troubadour’s masterpiece, Highway 61 Revisited, is Dylan’s sixth record and was reissued on vinyl this week. The record is considered one of Dylan’s greatest albums as it features some of his most beloved songs that have certainly stood the test of time: ‘Desolation Row’, ‘Like a Rolling Stone’, ‘Ballad of a Thin Man’, and ‘Queen Jane Approximately’ just to name a few.

The record is an important example of how Dylan fused blues-based rock ‘n’ roll with poetry. It influenced generations of musicians to come and the entire idea of what a pop-rock song should look like. Definitely an essential addition to anyone’s vinyl collection.

The Best Years Of Our Life – Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel

Cockney Rebel are often overlooked amid other glam rock bands; they were kind of the black sheep of the lot. Released in 1975, this was their first record under the name, Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel, whereas with their previous two records, it was just ‘Cockney Rebel.’

After an intensive period of touring in 1974, three members of the band had left due to tensions growing within their songwriting department. The album produced the single, ‘Make Me Smile’, which was their only number one song they ever had. Having said that, the album itself is a masterpiece and needs to be heard.

At Dawn (20th Anniversary Edition) – My Morning Jacket

Originally released in 2001, the band celebrated the album’s 20 years of life this week with a reissue. The album marked a turning point for the group, as they began to venture into longer song lengths and musical experimentations.

My Morning Jacket are brilliant at combining great indie-pop hooks with reverb-soaked vocal crooning and elongated instrumentalism with quirky stops and breaks. While not as memorable as their 2008 Evil Urges, it is still a record for your vinyl collection, highly recommended.

New Long Leg – Dry Cleaning

Dry Cleaning is a fairly new group; their debut came in 2019. New Long Leg is their first full-length LP and was released this week on vinyl. Dry Cleaning is definitely in the same vein as indie punk/post-punk New York City’s Parquet Courts. 

The record’s got a driving beat and their delicate vocalist, Florence Shaw, who merely ‘talks’ the lyrics, accompanies the guitars which have an ‘80s Bowie vibe to it. Recommended tracks off this record are ‘Unsmart Lady’ and ‘Leafy’.

Midlife Priceless – Mark Bryan

Whenever Mark Bryan, the guitarist of Hootie and the Blowfish, goes to record a new album, it’s usually with material left over from the last album the band had just recorded. This is exactly what the process was for his new record released this week, Midlife Priceless. 

The album is your fairly typical modern rock record with a healthy mix of country-rock. The material for new songs he is working on usually comes out naturally and it pertains to whatever is happening immediately in his life. Midlife Priceless celebrates his band having reunited and all the adventures that are associated with that.

Tightrope – Cactus

Sometimes referred to as “the American Led Zeppelin”, Cactus have been around to see a few empires rise and fall and have proven the test of time themselves. Cactus formed from the ashes of Vanilla Fudge; Carmine Appice joined forces with Tim Bogert in 1970. Jeff Beck would later join forces with them for a time.

Tightrope is Cactus’ first album in a while and it was released this week through Cleopatra Records. The record is definitely an old-school rocker that many of those who were alive and around for the early ‘70s would appreciate.

Stand In The Fire (Live)Warren Zevon

This was recorded live in 1980 during a five-night residency at The Roxy Theater in West Hollywood. Allegedly, the record is dedicated to Martin Scorsese. The album has been reissued on vinyl this week. Warren Zevon called the concerts “the dog ate the part we didn’t like tour.”

Warren Zevon is often overlooked as a brilliant songwriter and wholly unique. Originally wanting to be a novelist, he approached his songwriting from a literary angle and placed a lot of emphasis on the lyrics. His songs are often stories that utilise some literary techniques that even a veteran author would appreciate. The tracklisting includes a lot of his classics, including ‘Excitable Boy’, ‘Mohammed’s Radio’, ‘Lawyers, Guns, and Money’, and much more.

Huntington Ashram Monastery – Alice Coltrane

Alice Coltrane was often overshadowed by her late husband, John Coltrane, but she was also heavily influenced by him too. Her first record as a solo artist, A Monastic Trio, was definitely informed by what her husband was doing in the studio in the late ‘60s, as it was a tribute to him; he died the previous year.

Her second solo record, Huntington Ashram Monastery was Alice Coltrane branching out and her skill as a harpist is the focal point of the record. Alice was one of the very few musicians who was a proficient bandleader and a harpist working in jazz. The record is fascinating and also explores Coltrane’s interest in Hinduism and her later work as a swamini.

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