As a record collector, I often ask myself an important (and blindingly obvious) question when buying both reissues and new albums on vinyl: do I really need to own that LP, or will a CD or download suffice? Here are two I vote in favor of the vinyl:
MC5: Kick Out The Jams - Rhino Records' 180-gram reissue of the MC5's explosive 1969 debut, a live recording, is probably an essential one to have on vinyl if you are a fan of hard-hitting rock and roll music. I've had it on CD for a while and I gotta say the LP packs way more punch. I mean, its ultimately all about the music, but when you are talking about tunes that arguably helped invent the driving sound of hard rock and heavy metal to come years later, having a sweet analog version smooths the harsh edges added by lower fidelity digital options (ie. CD, mp3, etc.). This album is best played loud and on LP it just rips open your stereo. On the CD, the music on my old CD became (relatively) harsh mush, even on bluesier workouts like "Motor City Is Burning." Kick out the Jams buzzes and fuzzes and roars on LP while on CD its reduced a fizz with not much in the way of low end. The album comes housed in a thick cardboard cover with high quality original artwork, a plastic lined sleeve and a nice thick perfectly pressed 180-gram jet black vinyl with original period green-gold Elektra Records label. Arguably, this is probably a better pressing than was put out back in the day. And certainly, finding a mint original would be hard so if you want to get your Detroit rock city on, this is ground zero.
Iggy & The Stooges: Raw Power Live - I came across this album on Record Store Day, being sold on discount and I'm glad I picked it up. Featuring the 21st Century edition of The Stooges -- with ex-Minutemen bassist Mike Watt -- the band is rocking like mad on this show, recorded on the first night of the annual All Tomorrow's Parties festival on September 3, 2010. But, again, do you need it on vinyl? Well, sure! The bass and mid range are remarkably full for a live steamroller of a band like this. When drummer Scott Ashton hits that snare at the start of "Search and Destroy" you know you are in for an assault. Believe it or not, its a remarkably warm recording and I attribute that to the vinyl which is thick and quiet, and from what I have read on line, 180-gram weight. You audiophiles out there, don't expect this to sound like The Band's The Last Waltz or Allman Brothers Live at Fillmore East -- its a way more ambient flavored mix than that. But if you want a solid live Iggy album, this sounds way better than any other live Iggy Pop recording I've heard to date, especially with the Stooges.
When they break out the acoustic guitar on "Gimme Danger," the impact is electrifying against the electric guitar. James Williamson's slide work on "I Need Somebody" snakes arond your speakers. This album is also available on DVD and Blu-ray and a download (curiously, not on a CD). "Shake Appeal" just smokes! This is completely wonderful Iggy and it sounds great. Get it! I'm probably going to get the Blu-ray at some point as the full show is presented there, and, well, doesn't every home need a high definition document of Iggy Pop at 63? I think so!
Mark Smotroff is a freelance writer and avid music collector who has worked for many years in marketing communications for the consumer electronics, pro audio and video games industries, serving clients including DTS, Sega, Sony, Sharp, AT&T and many others. Mark has written for EQ Magazine, Mix Magazine, Goldmine/DISCoveries Magazine, BigPictureBigSound.com, Sound+Vision Magazine and HomeTechTell.com. He is also a musician / composer who's songs have been used in TV shows such as Smallville and Men In Trees as well as films and documentaries. Mark is currently rolling out a new musical he's written. www.smotroff.com