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Hallelujah! It's a Re-issue Revival

A slew of re-issue labels are bringing forgotten vinyl to the web. Vintage vinyl seduced me early. First it was scraps from the family turntable-my mother's Joni Mitchell, dad's Bob Seger. Then it was scratched 45s culled from various neighborhood yard sales. By the time I was 12, I was making what..

A slew of re-issue labels are bringing forgotten vinyl to the web.

Vintage vinyl seduced me early. First it was scraps from the family turntable-my mother's Joni Mitchell, dad's Bob Seger. Then it was scratched 45s culled from various neighborhood yard sales. By the time I was 12, I was making what amounted to religious pilgrimages to the only decent record store within bike range-a closet-sized shop manned by a white-haired, sway-bellied, Middle-Earth-type who preferred grumbling to conversation. Occasionally, he would take notice of me and spout some deep wisdom from high atop Audiophile Mountain: "Pentagram is like Black Sabbath... only they mean it," or "David Bowie made a crapload of albums before Let's Dance, you know..."I would spend hours there, sifting through stacks, staring at album covers, absolutely exhilarated, a thin film of grime forming on my fingers from the dusty cardboard. I would buy anything I had even remotely heard of; some Joni Mitchell record my mother didn't have, more battered 45s. I also started to base purchases solely on cover art, which lead to some spectacular revelations: a Raymond Pettibone illustration brought West Coast punk to my East Coast life, and my attraction to the spaceship/soulman on the front of Mothership Connection catapulted me directly into the acid-soaked vortex of Parliament/Funkadelic. It was a scavenger hunt, a treasure trail, a pirate's map to a remote and hidden island, and I felt like nothing less than a swashbuckler in that crappy little shop-embarking on a great adventure through musical territories unknown.I've been a digger ever since, shuffling through garage sale milk crates and big city record stores on an infinite quest for the next new (old) thing. But now, as the mom and pop record shops sadly disappear, and as corporate monoliths like Virgin and Tower Records topple, that quest is hugely facilitated-for myself and every other audiophile on the planet-by the vast miracle of the internet.Some insightful, primarily web-based record labels have found success in the rediscovering and re-issuing of lost vinyl classics, and in the process, they've resurrected some of the finest music ever forgotten. Forgoing major label methodology-mediocre "best of" anthologies and remastered big hits-these labels have instead done what true vinyl junkies have been doing for decades: They've sought out the unknowns, those songs and artists that somehow got caught and lost in the cracks.
Some insightful, primarily web-based record labels have resurrected some of the finest music ever forgotten.
Reissues labels explore a huge array of musical choices, from Afrobeat to jazz to experimental noise. The late, great guitarist John Fahey started Revenant Records in 1996 in order to reissue lost jazz classics. Now Again, in Los Angeles, offers everything from old school hip-hop unknowns to obscure 1970s funk ensembles. A curious listener can visit Sundazed for lost rock classics, Radioactive for rare new wave and punk, the United Kingdom's Ace label for some 1950s soul, or Italy's Akarma for a selection of 1960s pop.Then there's New York's Anthology Recordings, which focuses on psych-rock, folk, and heavy metal gems, but doesn't limit itself to the guitar realm. "We try to cover as much ground as we can," explains Anthology founder Keith Ambrahamsson, "people love all kinds of music and there's plenty of overlooked stuff existing in any given genre."

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