Posts Tagged ‘Craft Records’

Craft Records is about to reissue Big Star’s acclaimed, first two albums on 180-gram vinyl.  Set for a January 24th, 202 release date, and available for pre-order now, #1 Record and Radio City feature all-analog mastering by Jeff Powell at Memphis’ Take Out Vinyl, and also manufactured locally—in Big Star’s hometown—at Memphis Record Pressing.

Though they both failed to strike commercial success at the time of their releases, 1972’s #1 Record and 1974’s Radio City are now considered to be milestones in the history of rock by critics and musicians alike. Heavily influenced by the British Invasion, yet markedly original—with their jangly pop, driving guitars, sweet harmonies, and wistful melancholia—Big Star offered a distinctly new sound when they first emerged in the early ‘70s, and are counted among the founders of power pop—a genre which wouldn’t truly take off until later in the decade. Nevertheless, Big Star would become an underground favorite, influencing some the biggest alt-rock artists of the ’80s, ’90s and beyond, including R.E.M., Teenage Fanclub, Wilco, and The Replacements (who famously penned the song “Alex Chilton” as an ode to the band’s frontman).

The Memphis band was formed in 1971 by singer/songwriters Alex Chilton (1950-2010) and Chris Bell (1951-1978), drummer Jody Stephens (b. 1952) and bassist Andy Hummel (1951-2010). Chilton and Bell drew on the Lennon/McCartney style of collaborative songwriting for their aptly titled debut, #1 Record. Working with Ardent Records’ founder and engineer John Fry, Chilton laid down guitar and vocal tracks—often in one take, while Bell added polish with overdubs and harmonies to songs like “The Ballad of El Goodo,” “Thirteen,” and “In The Street.” #1 Record was released to wide critical acclaim, yet distribution issues severely limited the album’s availability in stores. It would sell fewer than 10,000 copies.

Although Chris Bell departed the band shortly after the release of #1 Record, Big Star’s remaining members began work on a second album in the fall of 1973. Losing the creative input of Bell could have wreaked havoc on the band’s progress, but Chilton confidently took the helm, and his undeniable talents shone through—especially on tracks like “I’m in Love with a Girl,” “Back of a Car,” and cult favorite, “September Gurls.” Released in February of 1974, Radio City garnered praise from the press, but, unfortunately, critical acclaim did not translate to sales.

Disbanding in late 1974, Big Star could have easily fallen into the abyss of could-have-beens and one-hit-wonders, yet they have instead achieved near-mythic status in pop music history. The legacies of #1 Record and Radio City—as well as the band’s third LP, Third—have far exceeded their original commercial performances. All three of Big Star’s albums are included on Rolling Stone’s 2012 “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” lists, and tracks from the first two (“Thirteen” and “September Gurls”) are also among the magazine’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” Numerous artists (Elliott Smith, The Bangles, This Mortal Coil, Beck, and Jeff Buckley, to name a few) have recorded covers of the band’s songs.

Big Star has been honored with a tribute record (Big Star Small World, 2006), a documentary (2012’s Nothing Can Hurt Me) and a touring live show, “Big Star’s Third,” in which an all-star roster of guest vocalists and musicians join a core group (including R.E.M.’s Mike Mills, Chris Stamey of The dB’s, The Posies’ Ken Stringfellow and sole surviving Big Star member, Jody Stephens) to perform Third, plus selections from #1 Record and Radio City. Most recently, the 2016 concert film and live album, Thank You, Friends: Big Star’s “Third” Live…And More, captures one such performance in Glendale, CA. Through their heartfelt renditions of the band’s songs, a cross-generational lineup of talent—Jeff Tweedy (Wilco), Ira Kaplan (Yo La Tengo), Robyn Hitchcock, Dan Wilson, Jessica Pratt, and San Francisco’s Kronos Quartet among them—prove the enduring appeal of Big Star’s music.

#1 Record and Radio City (180-gram vinyl editions) will be available on Friday, January 24th, 2020

Big Star’s Third performing live from the Bumbershoot Music Lounge. Recorded August 31st, 2014.

Songs:
For You
Take Care
Nightime
Give Me Another Chance
Thirteen
Blue Moon
I Am The Cosmos
In The Street

R.E.M. / Automatic For The People super deluxe edition

This November, Concord Music’s Craft Records imprint will reissue a 25th anniversary super deluxe edition of R.E.M.‘s 1992 album “Automatic For The People”.
We knew this was coming (it was mentioned when Craft Records was launched) and the super deluxe edition very much echoes the content of last year‘s Out Of Time super deluxe, if not the presentation.

R.E.M. is excited to announce the reissue of their landmark album Automatic For The People to commemorate the record’s 25th Anniversary. Due November 10th via Craft Recordings, the remastered album will be available in a variety of formats, the most extensive of which is the Deluxe Anniversary Edition, which will feature the album in its entirety mixed in Dolby Atmos. The album (plus bonus track “Photograph,” featuring Natalie Merchant) was remixed in Dolby Atmos by Automatic’s original producer, Scott Litt, and engineer, Clif Norrell. This technology delivers a leap forward from surround sound with expansive, flowing audio that immerses the listener far beyond what stereo can offer. It transports the listener inside the recording studio with multi-dimensional audio – evoking a time when listening to music was an active, transformative experience, and reigniting the emotion you felt when you first heard the album in 1992. R.E.M.’s Automatic For The People is the first album to be commercially released in this expressive, breathtaking format. In addition, the 4-disc Deluxe Edition will offer a wealth of previously unreleased material. The band selected 20 never-before-heard demos from the LP’s sessions, including the fully-realized, unreleased track “Mike’s Pop Song” and the oft-mused about song, “Devil Rides Backwards.” “Mike’s Pop Song” is available NOW as an instant great track with preorder of the reissue.

The first CD features the remastered (‘from the original analogue tapes’) version of the original album, while disc two offers 13 tracks performed live at the band’s Greenpeace benefit concert at Athens, Georgia’s 40 Watt Club. This performance was about five weeks after the original album release and features four tracks from Automatic For The People.

Twenty demo recordings fill up the third CD and many of them have placeholder titles such as ‘Peter’s New Song’ and ‘Bill’s Acoustic’, although where applicable, the titles of the songs they became are indicated! There are also a couple of previously unreleased tracks, ‘Mike’s Pop Song’ and ‘Devil Rides Backwards’. As with Out Of Time, expect a fair few instrumentals.

The fourth disc is a blu-ray which features a ‘Dolby Atmos’ surround sound mix of the album (plus bonus track ‘Photograph’ featuring Natalie Merchant).

The blu-ray on this super deluxe also contains videos for the singles (including two versions of Nightswimming) and the EPK (Electronic Press Release) issued at the time. Incidentally, this disc also includes a hi-res stereo version of the album.

Craft Recordings have gone for a bigger, square-shaped book this time around and haven’t replicated the same packaging as used for the Out Of Time super deluxe. You will see from the image above that the cover features a variation of the 1992 album artwork (only the vinyl reissue maintains the original) and the 60-page book will feature photos (some unreleased) taken at various sessions by Anton Corbijn and Melodie McDaniel in 1992 and 1993, along with expanded liner notes by Tom Doyle who conducted new interviews with all four band members. The book sits in a 12” x 12” box.