Back in April, I investigated a bunch of “special buys” vinyl records ALDI Australia had on sale, which looked tempting but turned out to be mostly dubious re-recordings not worth anyone’s time.
Next Wednesday (23 August 2023), ALDI has another 10 vinyl records on sale for $19.99 each. That’s a lot cheaper than the typical $60 you’ll pay for new-release vinyl down under, but is this batch any better than last time? Here’s a disc-by-disc analysis.
Disco Fever, Legends Of Rock & Roll and Route 66: These ones are easy to dismiss. Just like the April sale, these are compilations of re-recordings originally issued back in 2016 by Bellevue Publishing. Indeed, Disco Fever showed up in the April ALDI sale. It wasn’t worth $20 then and it isn’t worth $20 now, I’d say.
Elvis Presley, Elvis In Love: Unsurprisingly, ALDI’s own catalogue listing leads with the King. Although this is also a Bellevue Publishing release (like everything in this sale), these are original recordings. Elvis effectively stayed with RCA his entire career, which means there are plenty of terrible live renditions and orchestral overdubs around, but not any recordings that belong to another label. The 2017 release of this compilation (pictured above) boasts 180g vinyl, but ALDI’s own listing doesn’t mention that.
Bob Marley, Kaya: This is a tad sneaky and deceptive. Kaya is a classic 1978 Bob Marley album, with ‘Is This Love?’ perhaps its best-known track. But this is not that album, which is evident from the cover art. Instead it’s a compilation of live oddities. As with the Presley album, the original 2017 Bellevue release was on 180g vinyl.
Johnny Cash, Folsom Prison Blues: A similar trick to the Marley album, though less blatant. This isn’t Cash’s classic 1968 live album At Folsom Prison, but another Bellevue compilation of various tracks.
Roy Orbison, 20 Golden Classics: It’s not clear if these tracks are originals, live recordings or re-recordings. What is clear? A Roy Orbison compilation without ‘Oh, Pretty Woman’ is not complete. Again, I’m not assuming we’ll actually see the 180g version in stores.
Ray Charles, Very Best Of: A decent selection of Charles’ classics, and judging from the track lengths, these do seem to be the original recordings.
Santana, Jingo: Oh dear. This is a “fine collection of live performances”, the liner notes claim. But actually these appear to be 1968 studio recordings made before Santana’s commercial breakthrough in 1969, which have been compiled together in many different versions since first surfacing around 1988. Avoid.
The Best Of The 1960’s: While it’s tempting to assume this is yet another batch of re-recordings, the presence of tracks by Elvis Presley and Cliff Richard means that at least some of these songs are the originals. That said, nearly everything on here comes from 1960 or 1961, save 1962’s ‘Nut Rocker’ and 1966’s ‘When A Man Loves A Woman’. So it’s hardly a representative selection of a diverse pop decade.
In summary: the Elvis Presley and Ray Charles discs are OK for the price. Everything else is best shunned.
A pedantic footnote: Just as in April, ALDI is also flogging a discount turntable alongside the records. This time around it’s a $99 model with detachable speakers.
Somewhat ridiculously, it is listed as being “compatible with 18cm, 25cm and 30cm records”. Vinyl is one of the few areas where imperial measurements make more sense, so let’s just describe this as 7in, 10in and 12in, OK?