Rhino Records Wants to Start Your “EAR” Off Right With New Vinyl Reissues

Catchy, colored discs and long out of print titles to spice up your collection

The Cars – Shake it Up (Green vinyl edition)

Buffalo Springfield – Retrospective (180-gram vinyl edition)

The resurgence of vinyl is no longer a fad…it’s definitely here to stay. Which means, we’re starting to see a lot more records coming back on the market.  Some of it has not been in print for a long time, while others are coming back as colored vinyl.  Now, your favorite albums not only sound great, they look cool too!

Rhino Records’ latest campaign, “Start Your Ear Off Right,” focuses on limited-edition reissues of classic albums from a variety of genres, including titles from the Cars, Buffalo Springfield, Dire Straits, Talking Heads, Genesis, and more.  They kindly sent us a pair of them, which we dutifully took for a spin.

The Cars’ fourth album, Shake It Up, is presented in its original version on bright green vinyl (there was a recent reissue on red vinyl which contained an extra LP of rarities).  When the vinyl was compared to a stone-cold, first pressing, promo copy, it was a little noisy, but still faithful to the original sound – I give it a B+ While both the inner and outer sleeves are both made from sturdier materials this time around.   

After the experimental Panorama, Shake It Up was a return to form for the Boston combo, whose strength was always straddling the line between punk and mainstream.  The album yielded the MTV hits “Since You’re Gone” and “Shake It Up,” along with the tender ballad, “I’m Not the One,” which would be remixed and released as a hit single several years later.  

The album cuts are equally solid, with the sturdy, mid-tempo rock of “Victim of Love,” the dark, ominous, “Cruiser,” and the quirky “Think it Over.”  The record is front-loaded with the best songs and does kind of lose steam on side two, with tracks like “A Dream Away” and “This Could Be Love” sounding more like Ric Ocasek solo tracks than fully-realized Cars’ songs.  Still, it’s a great listen from start to finish.  Shake It Up would pave the way for the band’s biggest success, Heartbeat City, a few years later.

Buffalo Springfield’s Retrospective was a 12-song, “best of,” which came out after the band imploded in 1969, and was a staple of rock fans’ collections. It was also noted for its striking cover art by Eve Babitz.  As iconic as it was, it’s been out of print on vinyl for decades.  This new version features heavier-grade packaging, and is pressed on 180-gram vinyl for the first time.  

One interesting tidbit – some of these tracks vary slightly from the way they were originally released.   My 1969 copy of Retrospective featured all the tracks in stereo.  While Neil Young, who has played a major role in the Buffalo Springfield reissue campaign, has favored the mono mix of the band’s debut album. 

So, the four songs from their first record – “For What It’s Worth,” “Sit Down, I Think I Love You,” “Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing,” and “Go and Say Goodbye,” are here in mono, while everything else is in stereo. (Minor quibble: the mono, single mix of “Mr. Soul” is not included here, and that’s a shame, because it features some different guitar work).

Retrospective isn’t definitive – “Flying on the Ground is Wrong,” “Sad Memory,” and “Questions,” are three songs worthy of compiling, and arguably all three of the band’s studio albums have enough good material that you should hear them at least once. Still, Retrospective does make for a solid introduction to the band, and a great album to just drop the needle on and enjoy.

One final note – these titles are in short supply (Cars is 3,500 copies, Buffalo Springfield is 4,000), so if you want them, you better grab them while you can.  Previous years’ installments in the Start Your Ear Off Right series have been fetching high dollar on auction sites. –Tony Peters