My theme this week is records, which are coming back with a vengeance, as the 1st Annual Northside Record Fair indicates. In 2007 sales of new LPs dipped to below a million, but by 2009 sales jumped to 2.5 million, and the number climbed to 3.9 million in 2011—and that’s just for LPs that have bar codes, which is probably less than half of the total records released. (And I’ve yet to hear a count for 7-inches; I don’t think anyone has figured out how to count them yet.)
So who, you might ask, is making all that vinyl – and the partial answer is, a lot of records are being pressed in the northern part of the state. That’s a recent thing, as Gotta Groove, a record pressing plant in downtown Cleveland, didn’t exist until 2009; it now runs two full-time shifts in order to press up to 15,000 records a week. Artists planning to release their music on vinyl sh0uld contact Gotta Groove, who include some straightforward guidelines on their website. One of their customers is Shake-It Records, who’ve used the Cleveland pressing plant for releases by Wussy, Eddie Hinton, the Seedy Seeds and the new blues compilation.
I also recommend checking Gotta Groove’s website to see their postings about recent projects. If you do, you’ll continue to see fresh evidence that the vinyl world is getting more interesting. An example: when Branford Marsalis Four MFs Playing Tunes (which was pressed by Gotta Groove) was issued for the most recent Record Store Day, that indicated that the jazz world is starting to recover from vinyl amnesia. Four recent projects by Gotta Groove seem particularly noteworthy:
- Members of the Cleveland Orchestra are recording a live album December 4 and 5 at the Happy Dog, a corner bar in Cleveland.
- The Big Cats is a rock band whose 25 song, 80-minute release entitled The Ancient Art of Leaving has come out as a limited edition 3 LP/45 RPM record. Somehow the terms “heartland rock” and “British invasion” both come to mind for this great-sounding record which features rock-solid songcraft and tasteful guitar work (I should note that that a guitarist from Green Day, Jason White, is a band member).
- Shake-It Records has released a great new double LP that’s an anthology of music recorded by Cincinnati blues artists, Play It Like You Did Back to George St: An Anthology of Cincinnati Blues 1924-1936.
- Gotta Groove has launched its own record label (Private Label) with the first-ever vinyl pressing of Luna’s second album, Bewitched. This reissue of a classic Luna record includes the album cover Dean Wareham originally intended it to have.