The analog record boom is continuing. New albums seem to be released not only on CD but also on analog vinyl at the same time in many cases. CDs may be sufficient for just enjoying music, and you can also listen to a lot of music on streaming services these days, but the sound of analog LPs has a unique warmth, and the album cover is large in size, so you can feel its “physical” value strongly. I'd like to introduce you the latest analog LP records that are focused on their "physical" values.
Since having won two Grammy Awards, Best New Artist Award and Best Female Pop Singer Award, for her debut album "19," Adele has shone with many Grammys and rewritten the history of the awards. Her fourth album "30" was released at the end of last year, as one of the leading singer-songwriters representing contemporary pop music. This is the first album in six years we have been waiting for a long time, as its release has been delayed due to the spread of the COVID-19. The album debuted at the top on the charts in 34 countries, including the U.K. and the U.S. It has set the record for the most played album in the entire world on Spotify.
I have listened to her latest album, "30," a double LP released by Sony Music. Many of Adele's songs are unadorned accounts of her life and romance. In this album, she talks about her divorce and her feelings as a mother, which makes it emotionally even more vivid. As she says, "I lyrically sing what I want to sing now, not the message I want to convey," and her expression is very honest and emotional. I feel because she sings the negative aspects of life and human weaknesses, and turns them into strengths, such as in ＜Easy on Me＞ expressing her feelings for her ex-husband, many people can relate to her songs. Her outstanding singing ability is delicate and powerful! Being able to get the beautiful album cover in a larger size is one of the attractive features of this LP. The LP is labeled "Imported for Domestic Distribution," which means it is made the same way as an import, but was pressed at Sony's factory in Japan, and the quality is very good.
Many new releases of the ECM label seem to be released simultaneously in CD and LP formats. I have listened to Avishai Cohen's album just released this February (2022) on LP. Avishai was born in Tel Aviv, and is a leading trumpeter in New York City. The bassist of the same name is also well known, and I introduced him in my column #70 in November, 2019.
Avishai, the trumpeter, is 8 years younger. This is a straight-ahead one-horn album by Avishai. Based on simple sketches, all of the pieces are improvised, and are listed as "Parts 1-8," with no particular title attached. Even though they are improvised, they are all beautifully performed with free development of themes based on sorrowful motifs, and seem to express the sadness and indignation of the people suppressed by the outbreak of COVID-19. The sound of the trumpet was transparent, yet somehow cloudy. The muted playing with a hint of melancholy. The sharp tone of Avishai blowing melodies from sorrow to hope captures our hearts. It is fantastic that quartet members including a pianist, Yonathan Avishai, who has been playing together for a long time, respond sensitively to each note of the leader's playing. It’s true that you can fully enjoy the album on CD, but it certainly is the ultimate luxury to listen to it on high-quality German pressed LP.
"Don't Smoke in Bed" recorded in 2000 by Eddie Higgins, the pianist representing Venus Records, is released on LP this month. It must be a great pleasure for audiophiles to enjoy this album on analog LP, as Venus Records has an established reputation for brilliant recordings. Performed by a trio with guitar and bass, Higgins' tasteful touch emerges from the acoustic sound.
The repertoire includes superb standards only such as ＜Black Coffee＞, famously sung by Peggy Lee, the title song, ＜Close Your Eyes＞, and ＜Golden Earrings＞. The beautiful timbre by the trio led by Higgins fills the room with a romantic fragrance. The beautiful jackets of Venus's albums are also fascinating. I think this album should be enjoyed with the texture of its LP jacket.
Surrounded by various kinds of music from his childhood, Masamichi Okazaki joined Waseda University Modern Jazz Club. He started contributing articles to music magazines when he was a student. He covers wide range of music not only trad, modern and contemporary jazz, but also from pops to classics. He writes liner notes for CDs and LPs, and is a regular contributor to JAZZ JAPAN, STEREO, and others. He joined a big band, Shiny Stockings, as a saxophone player. He is a director of The Music Pen Club Japan (MPCJ).