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    Vinyl Releases of the Week: October 12, 2011

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    Tori Amos releases a classical piano album, William Shatner a space-themed concept album, and Grateful Dead a triple live LP reissue. These all seem so [for lack of a better word] obvious, yet at the same time unexpected—intriguing even! Take a look:

    Tori Amos - Night of Hunters (Deutsche Grammophon)
    At age five, Tori Amos was the youngest student admitted to the prestigious Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, Maryland. Kicked out by age 11 for wanting to play Led Zeppelin instead of classical sheet music, Amos has continued to challenge conventions throughout her 20-year music career. Her debut for the distinguished classical label Deutsche Grammophon is no different. Night of Hunters tells a very modern story of a woman's personal journey of reinvention via a classical song cycle comprised of variations on pieces by the likes of Bach, Chopin, and Schubert. Amos' piano is front and center, accompanied by a chamber ensemble of strings and woodwinds, and Amos' daughter and niece make an appearance as guest vocalists.

    Grateful Dead
    - Europe '72 (Grateful Dead)
    In tandem with the individual CD release of all 22 of the Europe '72 live shows, Grateful Dead is reissuing the original triple live LP as a 180-gram vinyl box set. Considered one of the best live Dead albums ever (as well as one of the band's best-selling releases), Europe '72 documents the Dead's first extended European tour. This reissue features all original replica packaging including the iconic cover artwork by Alton Kelley and Stanley Mouse.

    William Shatner - Seeking Major Tom (Cleopatra)
    OK, get this: William Shatner, the actor who played the iconic Captain Kirk on Star Trek, has released a 20-song, 3xLP space-themed covers album! While this sounds like utter novelty/too good to be true, his signature speak-sing delivery actually brings out a new emphasis to the lyrics of Bowie's "Space Oddity," Elton John's "Rocket Man," Steve Miller Band's "Space Cowboy," and Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody." Recreating the instrumental arrangements are noted musicians Peter Frampton, Brad Paisley, Ritchie Blackmore, Bootsy Collins, Alan Parsons, Johnny Winter, Dave Davies, and Zakk Wylde, to name but a few.

    Talk Talk - Laughing Stock (Ba Da Bing)
    The final album from the British new-wave band was released in 1991 and was much more avant-garde than Talk Talk's early synth-pop albums. Since its release, Laughing Stock has been cited by Radiohead as a major influence and ranked by Pitchfork as the 11th best album of the '90s. This reissue marks its first-ever vinyl release in the U.S.

    Mark Hollis - Mark Hollis (Ba Da Bing)
    Also on vinyl for the first time in the U.S. is the lone solo record from the former Talk Talk frontman, Mark Hollis. Originally released in 1998, the album picks up where Laughing Stock left off in its combination of folk, ambient, and jazz, and it is powerfully stark in its delivery—widely regarded as one of the quietest albums ever recorded. Its minimalist beauty is sure to have even more impact on vinyl.

    Joe Henry - Reverie (Anti)
    On his latest album, the esteemed musician and Grammy-winning producer (whose credits include Aimee Mann, Solomon Burke, Bettye LaVette, and Ani DiFranco) takes a raw approach—so raw, in fact, that he left the windows to his basement recording studio wide open. As a result, this acoustic roots record captures the organic sounds of the world going by outside Henry's window: birds chirping, dogs barking, traffic. His narrative themes follow suit, dealing with the passage of time. Though its title is synonymous with a dream, Reverie is already being heralded a masterpiece.

    The Jayhawks - Mockingbird Time (Rounder)
    The reunited Minnesotan alt-country rock band returns with its eighth studio album and first to feature the original lineup since 1995's Tomorrow the Green Grass. Mockingbird Time is presented here as a double 180-gram LP housed in a deluxe gatefold package with digital download card.

    Rich Robinson - Through a Crooked Sun (Spunk)
    It may start out sounding a bit like the Black Crowes, but the new solo album from Crowes guitarist Rich Robinson is intensely personal, revealing intricate textures and levels of emotion that the Crowes never could.

    Lil Wayne - Tha Carter IV (Universal Republic)
    2011 release from rapper Lil Wayne. Features guest appearances by Drake, T-Pain, Tech N9ne, Andre 3000, Rick Ross, John Legend, Bruno Mars, Nas, and Busta Rhymes, among others.

    Testament - The Legacy (1987), The New Order (1988), Practice What You Preach (1989), Souls of Black (1990) (Back on Black)
    Vinyl reissues of the first four albums by the thrash-metal titans.

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