Vinyl Corner is a feature where we take a look at vinyl pressings of various albums and weigh them up to see just how good they sound, how well they’re pressed and what sort of packaging to expect – as well as giving a brief overview of the music itself. In a loose follow-up to our recent feature on the Favorite Recordings reissue of Crystal’s ‘Music Life’ (viewable here), we’re going to rate another one of their reissues: this time – the soulful jazz-folk of Greg Yoder’s ‘Dreamer Of Life’.
Originally released in minuscule quantities in 1976, Greg Yoder’s sole album is an interesting proposition; in some respects he wears his influences on his sleeve and he certainly plucks from a wealth of jazz-leaning soul artists and the more freeform end of folk (see: Tim Buckley and Van Morrison, from whom he borrows ‘Moondance’ for a toe-tapping rendition found on side two of the album.) He articulates his influences into a record that, admittedly, doesn’t quite reach the mastery of its influences but impresses nonetheless. “Mellow” is an oft-misused term to describe music but in ‘Dreamer Of Life’s case it fits. Instrumentation is low-key and rustic, and performances are given with smooth charm and flourish. It’s easy-listening, certainly, but it’s not disengaging. Musicianship is highly proficient throughout (the slick, fluid bass work is particularly impressive) and the songs sway, and occasionally rollick, convincingly enough. The album’s long been a prized item to the few that know about it with the one-off limited run of the original pressing (released only in Yoder’s native Hawaii) tending to exchange hands for somewhere in the region of £150, occasionally as low as £100 and sometimes reaching upwards of £200.
This is a clean, tidy reissue from Favorite Recordings, although not one entirely without flaw. Our copy did have some minor but still noticeable edge warping straight out of the shrink-wrap and playback did yield the occasional patch of light surface noise. Regardless, though, this is still a good quality reissue (and, to be fair, it is the only option available in terms of vinyl releases, other than the hyper rare original.) The noise floor is very low here and the audio rings clear and true with a clean soundscape and nice focus – particularly in the vocals and swinging, fluid bass work. The album is remastered here and the sonic reappraisal has paid off – drums are sharp and the vibraphone parts which embellish these songs so attractively sound really great. From new, the record is visually clean with our copy being free of marks from the factory.
Packaging is excellent on this reissue; the sleeve is printed on heavyweight card and art is tip-on, like the sturdy sleeves found on the majority of US releases from the ’60s and before. The print quality is sharp and the back cover in particular is well reproduced; we’re not sure if the original version is like this or not but the front cover shot could perhaps do with a little more contrast in colours but that’s a very minor niggle at most. The spine is slim enough to not occupy too much precious shelf space but thick and distinguished enough to still look attractive, especially with the interesting font choice and yellow colouring. The barcode is included on a sticker on the shrinkwrap rather than the sleeve itself, which is a big bonus and the record itself is sleeved in a high quality, protective poly inner, which also earns this reissue extra points.
‘Dreamer Of Life’ is a good quality, ably executed reissue from Favorite Recordings and makes available once again a highly sought-after, albeit very obscure, AOR/Jazz-Folk album. Presentation is great and playback quality likewise impresses.