What We're Doing With What They've Done: Amoeba's "Vinyl Vaults"

Posted by Rick Frystak, April 28, 2013 07:15pm | Post a Comment

If you don't already know, we here at Amoeba are very much underway with our monumental archiving project for our website, simply called the "Vinyl Vaults". It's a really spectacular beginning to what is and will be a huge undertaking in offering to the public digital transfers of the most remarkable older, oblique and hard to find works of creative peoples around the globe throughout the history of recording. I myself, am curating a large part of this, and have been very excitedly pulling out many, many unique pieces of vinyl out of the used LP buys that we take in at Amoeba's buying counters, and sending them into the ether (ie,our great team) to be archived and considered for sale on Our sound team takes these copies of the LPs, 7" singles and 78 rpm discs and digitizes them via ProTools, into 24-bit files, and then make mp3, mp4 and 16 bit .wav files (CD quality) from the 24-bit master and split up the sides into tracks for folks to download. We sometimes offer of the highest resolution 24-bit file as well for a certain title. And in many cases the original LP or 78 or 45 we used to digitize the sides is available right there next to the download. 

How do I decide what we save to digitize and offer to the public as I go through all these LPs? The records almost speak to me as I sift over the aquisitions we've purchased in the collections we buy. If I don't  know the record, I'll see the look of the cover, the paper texture, and the era of manufacture as the first things revealed. Even the weight and smell of the "thing". Exotic LPs have a feel to them, a way they communicate to the holder that they are something interesting, distinctly special, and a thing to be investigated further. If you've held a phonograph record in your hands  you know what I mean. Often the packaging will tell me what's inside, but how many records say "vocals" or "guitar" or "piano", and yet how different can all these records be? The actual sound on the disc is an exciting mystery of immense promise before I hear it. So then, to play a little bit, I "needle-drop" (sample bits of) so many records in a day. And it just so happens that Amoeba offers 1 1/2 minutes of free sample listening for all the records' songs, so this is comparable to how I listen to potential pieces for the Vaults. Once chosen, a disc will undergo a discerning ear's analysis and judgement for condition, and a little research to see if folks already know about this record. Ultimately, the bliss of finding a transcendent musical performance by a deceased or obscure artist or on a long-defunct label is intoxicating. And to think that others can later enjoy these provocative sounds via the "Vinyl Vaults"  is exhilarating.

I've been trolling over our work lately, and I thought I'd share some of the unusal, affecting pieces that Amoeba has digitized lately. If you're a seeker, it's all part of the grand search for new sounds. No matter what your musical taste, these riches reward!!  Warning: Once you get going sampling these on Amoeba's VInyl Vaults, it's hard to stop! Why, just look at what I found...


Sasha & Lena, "Goodbye Russia"

I can't speak a word of Russain, but if you're like me, you relish the sound of a foireign language voice as an instrument. This husband and wife team from 1976 take me back to 60's folk and dark, reverb-y European balladeering without the cliches. Very timelss sound. And you can buy the original copy right next to the download



Doug Lucas, "Naira"

Ethereal, connected and soulful Black jazz fusion of high order. Doug weaves his articulate trumpet tone into the tender Arp or exotic Rhodes ripples, the rhythm sections and 1976 FM radio trends of the hip. Collectors know this one and seek it out.



Leroi Antoine, "Native Songs Of Haiti"

Were we talking about packaging? This one is a killer, with scortching naiive cover painting advertising the Babalu-on-acid sound guaranteed to take you away. Just big, fluent voices and conga, the rhythms full of Steve Reich-ean cross pattern hypnosis. Quite Folkways-ish, too.



Eric Relph, "Pretty Darlin"

Kind of a TopangaNeilFirefallAllmanSpanky pop LP from '78 with standout numbers like the title track leading off the set, an iconic, California summertime winner, with luscious chorused electric guitar intro, and a couple of other soft psych trippers like "Stoned Louis" make it an earnest memory jogger. 



Tseng Ta-Yu, "Offerings To The Stars"

Subtitled "A Zither Performance", this gorgeous minimal, floating work is a real spacer, as Ta-Yu delivers the goods as titled and we float among the stringed one's cosmos of hammer-ons and droning chords on the fretless Zither. Major chords deceive any ethnic affiliation, and the mood is a happy and pensive one. Om Shanti.



Rube Lacy, "Jailhouse Groan/Ham Hound Crave" 

This 78rpm transfer from 1928 epitomizes the word "blues," as Mr. Lacy indubitably gets to it in his only 2 solo displays of primitive emotion, miraculous guitar chops and 'yarl-laden storytelling with nary a word understood by yours truly, resurrecting the ghosts of you-name-'em greatness.  And Rube Lacy Google's galore! 


Young Ideas, "The Stamp Collector" 

Exquisite, one-of-a-kind 3-track 45rpm acetate, manufactured right there inside the Associated Recording Studios, NYC. The nearly-perfect garage churner goes, "Mister... stamp collector man...collecting all the stamps you can... stamp collector man".  Below the male vox, the organ wheezes away dancing to the very tightly tightened drumming and intricate guitar arrangement. Shoulda' been a hit. Rare as a 3-dollar bill. this one.



Warne Marsh, "Live In Hollywood"

Part of the great Don Schlitten archive, this one cooks to no end, featuring Hamp Hawes on piano. !951 records tenor legend Warne's rubbery, effulgent sound and turn-of-phrase grooves with Shelly's drums (it's Hollywood) garner high marks indeed. This one belongs on your computer, or buy the real deal for 10 bucks.



In Search Of Orchestra, "Music From In Search Of..."

Combining avant-garde string quartets, Moog embellishments and moody orchestral atmospherics, this LP goes in very visual yet smoky directions while being pop and satisfying at once. Like all good production music, it fit perfectly with the show's exotic, left-of-center subject matter.



Negasphere, "Castle In The Air" 

Japanese, chops-based prog/jazzy/synth group, say, ELP meets UK meets Tomita. Win-win. Some vocals swimming in reverb do everything to promote the outer spaced, drug-inspired, early-digital-era pomp sound. Kool Krazy Kosmo Kover art. Can't go a day without this type of thing.



Jimmy Callihan, "Songs To H.E.A.R." 

Mom played the organ, so I'm always into an LP that features...a deaf organist. Mr. Callihan is such an artist.  Dig his groovy rhythm box intros, plenty ripe for the sampling. Bawl right along to his "Ave Maria". The beat gets away from Jimmy on occasion...he was freakin' excited to do this gig, even though he's a pilot and stuff. 


Clearly, the "Vinyl Vaults" are nothing to sneeze at, and will be of emmense joy to music "seekers" like yourself for ages to come. Check back frequently!

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Experimental Music (10), Weirdo (4), Leroi Antoine (1), Downloads (7), Sasha & Lena (1), Tsueng Ta-yu (1), Lounge (12), Jazz (153), Psychedelic (14), Electronic (20), Vinyl Vaults (8), Negasphere (1), Organ (11), Jimmy Callihan (1), Warne Marsh (1), In Search Of... (1), Young Ideas (1), Rube Lacy (1), Garage Acetate (1), Doug Lucas (1), Eric Relph (1), Prog Rock (6)