It’s been a crazy time for vinyl collectors lately. As most of you know, the Apollo Mastering plant in California suffered a devastating fire Thursday, February 6, 2020. For those of you that don’t know, let’s review. The Apollo Mastering plant is one of two plants in the entire world that produces the lacquers used for making master discs, which are used in the mass production (pressing) of vinyl records. The other plant is the already overloaded, and much smaller MDC mastering plant, which is not-so-conveniently located in Japan.
If that wasn’t enough for all of you, you may also be interested to know that the supposed big three music groups Universal, Sony, and Warner have all moved their physical distribution to one company called Direct Shot Distributing. A single company is now suddenly responsible for sorting through and shipping out all of our records. All of this aside, the vinyl industry just wrapped up its biggest and most profitable year in decades, experiencing double-digit growth for the seventh consecutive year. Given all these setbacks, the trends are up, with some forecasting that the vinyl industry will net over 1 billion in sales for the first time in this century. The question is how?
Those of us that love, listen, and collect music on vinyl, along with the brick and mortar stores that sell our beloved wax discs, are the proverbial cockroaches of the world. You can try, but you are never going to get rid of us. Basically, there are a lot of very good people in this business who work hard for us to make great records and get them into brick-and-mortar stores as well as the hands of vinyl lovers around the world. With so many companies pumping out product, it can be hard for a vinyl collector to know where to turn for the quality reissues they seek. So, I wanted to take the time to highlight five of the reissue labels that I feel warrant our time and attention.
1) Mr. Bongo
Founded in Brighton, UK, in 1989 by David Buttle, Mr. Bongo has been providing amazing reissues to the vinyl-loving public for just over 30 years. The label specializes in world music, art-house, and world cinema. Over the years, Mr. Bongo has become well known for bringing some of the most obscure and hard-to-find Brazilian, African and Latin releases to our attention. With consistent packaging, keeping true to the styling of originals, you can finally have the obscure world music titles you’ve been seeking but never thought you would actually have.
Founded in 2002 by the former general manager of Stones Throw Records, Eothen Alapatt, Now-Again Records specializes in reissues across more or less all genres of music, with a focus on music from the mid-1960s through the mid-1980s. Now-Again Records has a flair for producing incredible reissues of the afrobeat, deep funk, and world psych genres. Rely on Now-Again Records to fill your collection with the weirdly fresh sounds of the beatnik and freak-out generations. Very tidy and generally simple packaging coupled with high-quality wax will leave you satisfied and going back for more.
Light in the Attic Records was founded in Seattle, Washington, in 2002 in a small basement apartment by Matt Sullivan. Their mission is simple: “Put out great music, wherever it may be found; however it may sound.” The label itself is known for high-quality packaging, generally found on simple and classic black vinyl. Keeping the theme of their DIY basement roots, Light in the Attic has developed a knack for shining a light on extremely well-curated and formally buried crate digger classics. Trust Light in the Attic Records to fill your collection with funk, soul, and even Japanese blues that you might not be able to find otherwise.
Founded by Jack White in 2001 in Detroit, Michigan, Third Man Records is not only a reissue label, but they are a modern-day indie powerhouse of vinyl and all things music. They consistently press some of the best-sounding and most beautiful limited edition vinyl reissues you will ever see. Still, they also release and press new music on vinyl, have two physical locations (one in Nashville and one in Detroit), and they are the exclusive home of all things Jack White. Specializing in blues, hard rock, and country titles, both new and old, Third Man Records is essential for those just getting into vinyl, as well as veteran collectors.
This might be one of the most prolific of the five labels I will mention today. Founded by Tom Vermeulen between 1995 and 1998, Music On Vinyl is a Dutch label specializing in 180-gram reissues of an extensive range of artists, specifically those who control their own repertoire. Using the best quality masters available to them, Music On Vinyl works very hard to provide high-quality reissues of seldom-seen titles alongside more popular releases. Their mission is to provide the vinyl community with the classics they love in an affordable audiophile format.
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Since he was a young child growing up on Long Island, NY, Andrew has always loved writing and collecting physical music. Present-day, Andrew is proud to share his love of music with the world through his writing, and the result is nothing short of beautiful: articles and interviews written by a music addict for fellow music addicts. Andrew lives on Long Island and works as a Horticultural Operations Manager by day and runs the Vinyl Writer Music website by night.