To continue my never-ending posts about all things Lucinda Williams, it has just been announced that Car Wheels on a Gravel Road will be released on vinyl on June 23, 2014. But it will not be on an American label. Instead, the EU label Music on Vinyl which regularly releases audiophile quality recordings on 180 gram vinyl is doing it.
While both Tom Overby and Lu herself have long expressed commitments to vinyl, and to getting her entire catalog on LPs, this came as a surprise. As Tom said in a note, "It's news to me."
This will be the third "release" of the album. The first was, of course, in 1998, to great acclaim. It won a Grammy. It was also named album of the year by the Village Voice's annual Pazz and Jop Poll, which, as I recall, was the first time a female artist took home that honor. But that should not be too unexpected as the Voice was one of the earliest national publication to sing her praises.
It was then released in 2006 as a deluxe two CD set that also included some additional tracks and a live set.
No information was initially given on whether it is a remaster or, like Dylan's World Gone Wrong vinyl re-issue in the EU, if it might be a direct copy of the CD itself. However, knowing the label's history and having some of their pressings I doubt that to be the case. To make sure, I asked. Their response: "We use the best audio available to cut our records. We receive and use different kinds of masters: analogue tapes, original metal parts, lacquers cut from analogue tapes and high res digital files 192/96khz/24 bit. Music On Vinyl does not use CD's as masters." Thus, it should be excellent sound quality.
Why is vinyl so important? Well, it is the only part of recording industry that has seen an increase in sales during the past ten years or so, most notable the Americana genre. And it is fueled primarily not by middle aged white guys who don't like change, but by younger listeners and fans who want something tangible. CDs are so yesterday -- what your parents listen to.
Now, only Essence and Sweet Old World to go.
The Music on Vinyl records are available from various EU sources and record stores that handle imports.
June 10 Update: Lucinda's Management has stated that the EU label does not have the rights to release a vinyl version of the album in Europe and it is being looked into. So, it looks like steps are being taken to prevent its scheduled release, or, perhaps, provide Music on Vinyl with the opportunity/authority to do so.