The Discogs Top 50 Best Selling Records Of 2017

https://blog.discogs.com/en/discogs-top-50-best-selling-records-2017/

Obviously there are no surprises on this list.  Not really.  Although King Crimson, In the Court of the Krimson King is kind of a wild card.

But I was surprised that I no longer have any of these LPs in my collection. None.  Over the years I’ve owned most of them, but they are long gone.  If I was to listen to them again it would most likely be in a digital format. Maybe I’ll pick up Kind of Blue again.

Speaking of Miles Davis, why is KoB the only jazz album here? (actually the only non rock/pop album.)  There is no questioning it’s massive greatness – its phenomenal!  But its presence on this list suggests that almost everyone has a copy in their collection.  Which would suggest to me that these music listeners would be compelled, by the greatness of KoB, to collect loads of other great jazz records too.  Where are the huge sellers like Time Out by Dave Brubeck, or Getz/Gilberto?  

Anyway, lists exist to drive people crazy.  What albums are you surprised to see on the list, or missing from the list?

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2nd Tier Legends – Rock n Roll Giants

Once record companies grew cartoonish dollar signs in their eyeballs ($$) after Elvis became an instant mega star, the floodgates opened for overnight-sensation wannabes.  Thousands of kids with the right hairdo, or a couple dance steps, or a guitar strapped on their shoulder were mashed into the record industry meat grinder with hopes of making it big.  But it was nearly impossible for most to gain any traction. So, discarded by industry lowlifes, they and their broken dreams headed back home when their time was up.  

But somehow, a few genuinely talented would-be-greats stepped through, if briefly, just enough to make a lasting mark on the history of rock n roll music.

My three favorite 2nd tier rock n roll legends are Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, and Johnny Ace.  (In truth, Ace’s story ended suddenly before Elvis broke big) The music they left behind, and their stories of gritty ambition and tragic paths are incredible.  Even now it seems like the greatest rock n roll performers throughout the past 60 years have channeled these artists in important ways.

Do yourself a favor and listen to some of these records.  What are some of your favorite 2nd tier legends?

Hip Hop on Vinyl

I own three Hip Hop LPs.  

NWA: Straight Outta Compton, 

Dr Dre: The Chronic, 

Kendrick Lamar: To Pimp a Butterfly.  

Two of them are 25 years old, the other is contemporary.  I bought each one solely on their respective reputations as outstanding recordings.  They do not disappoint – Really great albums!

And while these albums were not made with guys like me in mind, (Irish Americans over 50 years old from a suburban upbringing,) I like to think that I’m open to appreciating and enjoying any and all music when performed by creative artists with integrity in command of their tools of expression.  I look forward to adding more Hip Hop albums to my collection.

And I hope I’m not being naive believing that I’m gaining some degree of insight into American experiences that I hold as personally valuable that are so different than my own,  by working through the lyrical landscapes painted by these artists.  

And as great as To Pump a Butterfly sounds on my deck fidelity-wise, (aside from being a beautiful, funky, intricate, and troubling artistic statement,) the older LPs, while sounding great, are possibly strictly digital artifacts…not sure they gain anything on vinyl format other that the larger physical artwork.

What are some other must-haves in this genre? What’s your experience with Hip Hop on vinyl?

Reissues

As great as it is to find a classic vintage record on the original label in great shape that sounds perfect when you drop the needle…when your looking for albums in the 25-75 year old range, that can be a difficult and expensive proposition.  Enter reissues.  

Now if you’re the type of record buyer concerned primarily with curating a prestigious collection, you may be inclined to dismiss reissues.  But if your primary concern is listening to great records then reissues are a godsend.  But even some serious collectors are adding certain reissues to their collections – but only the most specific pressings, of course 😉.  

As much as I love the availability of reissues, it is good to be cautious about the source.  For example, the reissues from Sundazed Music (Johnny Cash & Bo Diddley in the photo,) are phenomenal.  (The founder of Sundazed was a mastering and remastering wizard in his career prior to Sundazed) And some artists, like Pink Floyd, have begun reissuing their back catalog themselves with fantastic releases (the Piper at the Gates of Dawn reissued on Pink Floyd’s own label in 2016 is probably the best reissue of this LP among many over the years.)  And reissues from the original labels are almost always great.  But there are a handful companies, often in Europe where release and publishing laws are less stringent than in the US, that use masters of questionable sources.  The Muddy Waters release in the photo on Wax Time Records was most likely pressed using compact discs in lieu of a proper master tape.  This is a too-common problem with older blues artist especially, as there were few proper LPs prior to 1960 in a singles-centric industry, so you’re likely to find arbitrary compilations.  (That said, I still enjoy listening to this Muddy Waters record.)  Stick with reliable sources if you can.  

Of course I’ve recently recieved a couple of hip hop reissues from the original labels that I’m not sure about.  NWA, Straight Outta Compton on Ruthless and Dr Dre, The Chronic on Death Row.  I need to research to see if these were even released on vinyl originally, but instead were tracked direct to digital format, and pressed direct to CD, without proper master tapes.  Whatever the case, they sound great.  

And as we discussed, there are unscrupulous labels pressing bogus records, but there are also some legitimate small labels with legitimate rights pressing legitimate reissues.  Even in Europe.  One of my all time favorite reissues is the Louvin Brothers, Satan is Real on the Stetson label.

This thing looks and sounds amazing!  Every collection should have one.

What are your experiences with reissues?  Ok, back to listening to records…

Favorites, chapter 1 – Mose Allison

2016 seemed to bring us the sad news of the death of a wonderful musician every couple of days.  This sad string was unbelievable.  Among the lesser celebrated legends that died was one of my all time favorites, Mose Allison.  Granted, Mose was an elderly man, so his passing was not quite the shock as Prince or Bowie, but still…when your favorite goes it hits hard.

Its funny how we adopt favorites.  Completely arbitrary really.  Mose Allison became a favorite of mine fairly organically; I got a best-of collection based solely on reputation and enjoyed it so much I just started to collect his LPs as I came across them, and each impressed more than the last.  

If you don’t know, and most don’t, Mose was a pianist/composer/singer noted for his jazzy blues, his bluesy jazz, his inventive soloing, the satirical humor of his lyrics, and the southern, laid back charm of his cool tenor and quirky turn of a phrase.  He gained some notoriety among rock n rollers when the Who began including  a couple Mose covers in their shows starting in the late 60s, Eyesight To the Blind, and Young Man Blues.

But for most of his long career Mose carried his genius on the road in small clubs, and recording an impressive catalog of brilliant albums – the best of which he recorded for Atlantic during the 60s.  The album I most often recommend is I Don’t Worry About A Thing released in 1966.  But really its hard to miss with any Mose Allison album.  I was lucky enough to see Mose perform during his final tour in 2011.  He was sharp and energized. Such a phenomenal show.

I suggest listening to records.  What’s your experience with Mose?  And who are your lesser known favorites?