In rotation: 3/10/23

Brooklyn, NY | Tower Records’ long promised ‘creative space’ is finally ready for its debut: The Tower Records reboot is not a store, but the space will host live performances and album signings beginning later this month. Tower Records is (finally) ready to reopen in Williamsburg. But don’t expect a traditional store. The legendary music retailer announced that Tower Labs — a “creative space” for musicians and entertainers that will host live performances, interviews and album signings — will make its public debut on March 24. It might not feature endless rows of vinyl, but the company said in a release that it will “once again be a staple of the Tower experience.” The Brooklyn opening marks the storied brand’s first new physical space in about 16 years. At its peak, the chain operated roughly 200 record stores in 15 different countries before over-expansion and the internet led to the shuttering of all of its physical locations by 2006. Williamsburg was chosen because it’s known for “art and music” and the retailer is weaving itself into the neighborhood by working with nearby live venues to “establish an intimate space for performing acts to convene and socialize before and after shows.”

Akron, OH | JuJu Bonz Records opens in Akron’s Kenmore neighborhood hopes to grow with the community: The vinyl album simply refuses to die. Vinyl’s gravestone has been carved and re-carved many times since the advent of 8-tracks, cassettes, CDs, downloadable digital formats, and finally streaming. But that big ol’ 12-inch hunk of wax seems to have an eternal hold on music lovers and hip folks who enjoy utilitarian if outdated functional furniture pieces such as a turntable. It also doesn’t hurt that those albums come with super-cool covers with big pictures and that there’s usually something interesting to look at on the inner sleeve while you listen, like lyrics and proper credits for all us nerds (“Ooh, mastered by Bob Ludwig, cool!”) …The store is called JuJu Bonz Records (989 Kenmore Blvd.) and is owned and operated by Julia and Chris Bentley. The couple previously owned Buzzbin Art & Music Shop in Canton, which housed Frankenstein Records. Now, the couple has moved north up I-77 and has taken over Kenmore’s Live Music Now venue, which will soon be rebranded as Buzzbin and is conveniently located across the street from JuJu Bonez.

Carlisle, PA | Got Vinyl? Record Pop-Up Brings the Intergenerational Heartbeat to the Hub: The Jam’s 1982 hit record “A Town Called Malice” blasts from a nearby stereo, invigorating the atmosphere with its spunky new wave flair. A hodgepodge of vinyls and classic film posters are scattered about, spurring onlookers to gather in close-knit crowds in search of a desired possession. Is this a scene from your local record store; the beloved gem of your hometown? No, it’s WDCV’s annual Pop-Up Record Shop, which was assembled outside of the HUB Bookstore on Feb. 28. The eclectic assortment was brought in by long-time salesman Dennis Gotthard, a resident of Carlisle who has been an avid collector of records for decades. A newfound love for vinyl among the younger generations is what keeps his business exciting, and what has kept him coming back to Dickinson’s campus for years. “I’m 80 years old. I’ve been collecting records since I’ve been 14,” Gotthard said. “I have 70,000 and counting, and I got serious about selling about 25 years ago.”

UK | The 15 best Record Store Day releases 2023 – Pixies, T. Rex, The 1975 and more: Beach House and Brian Eno feature in our top RSD release picks. So, that turntable this vinyl revival encouraged you to purchase or revisit (or simply keep using!)… well, it’s almost that definitive time of the year when it deserves to spin some new records. In addition to Boxing Day, of course, and, well, every Sunday afternoon of the year. Indeed, Record Store Day 2023 is just weeks away! The annual celebration of records and everyone involved in it takes place on Saturday 22nd April and, keeping with tradition, will see hundreds of records – over 400, in fact – become available to purchase on that day. Since the full list of exclusive RSD releases was announced, the What Hi-Fi? team has been discussing which ones they’d be prepared to elbow an elderly crate-digger out of the way for in order to add it to their vinyl collection – and perhaps you have been too (though probably without the elbowing part because you are an upstanding member of society).

ECM to launch new audiophile vinyl reissue imprint, Luminessence: Series kicks off in April with Kenny Wheeler and Naná Vasconcelos classics. Renowned German imprint, ECM Records, has become the latest record company to launch an audiophile-focussed vinyl reissue imprint with the announcement today (8 March) of the Luminessence series. ECM says that Luminessence aims to “shed light on the jewels of the label’s deep catalogue in elegant, high-quality editions”. Some albums will be offered in exclusive facsimile editions, others “framed in high-grade gatefolds that include new liner notes offering historical context and fresh perspectives, while again others have been long out of print or even never before released on vinyl.” Most will be cut from the original analogue master tapes. Launching the series on 28 April are Kenny Wheeler’s Gnu High and Naná Vasconcelos’ Saudades, which were recorded in 1975 and 1979 respectively. Gnu High was Wheeler’s ECM debut, featuring a stunning quartet with Keith Jarrett on piano, Dave Holland on bass, and Jack DeJohnette on drums. The album put Wheeler on the map, as both lyrical improviser and jazz composer, and laid the foundation for the Canadian trumpeter’s influential and highly regarded work to come.

Baltimore, MD | The ever-changing record: When you listen to a vinyl, it is both the first and last time you’ll hear it. As the needle traverses the record it creates new grooves, subtle nicks here and there, like a co-producer editing the musical content beyond the control of its original artist. If you were to pick up the needle and place it back at the exact same spot you had just minutes prior, you may think you’re listening to the same song, but you’re not. You’re listening to a whole new record. In that same vein, every moment we experience in the present is unique and cannot be re-experienced. Even if you’re going to the same class for the third time this week, it won’t be the same as the first. And it may be your 20th birthday, but you only get your 18th once. The list goes on and on. This isn’t a revolutionary idea by any means, but it’s easy to forget as an undergraduate at Hopkins, and understandably so. It’s hard to appreciate the qualities of the present when it comes to three midterms and an endless stream of assignments.

Grateful Dead announce 50th anniversary ‘Bear’s Choice’ vinyl reissue: Grateful Dead have announced a 50th anniversary vinyl reissue of History Of The Grateful Dead, Volume One (Bear’s Choice), set for release on 5 May. History Of The Grateful Dead, Volume One (Bear’s Choice 50th Anniversary Edition) will be released on 180-gram black vinyl and available from digital and streaming services. On the same day, the newly remastered album will be released exclusively from on custom “Bear Tracks” vinyl. Limited to 5,000 copies, the album will be available with two different custom labels based on the artwork from the album’s back cover, which featured the debut of the now-iconic “Dancing Bears.” The newly remastered audio will also be available digitally. In the wake of co-founder and first frontman Pigpen’s death in March 1973, Owsley “Bear” Stanley curated Bear’s Choice in collaboration with the band to pay tribute to their fallen friend. Released on 13 July 1973, the live album features Pigpen singing lead on three of the seven tracks. To celebrate the record’s upcoming 50th anniversary, Grammy Award-winning engineer David Glasser has remastered the album from the original analog two-track tapes using Plangent Processes. The music has never sounded better.

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