A group of record labels, founded with the Rykodisc label.
Rykodisc was first conceived at a French music convention in 1983/4 as the first all-CD record label. However, after four years, Rykodisc started to release vinyl records and music cassettes. In recent years Rykodisc have begun to release music and comedy DVDs. Rykodisc claim to be one of the strongest of the remaining American independent labels, and are known for their willingness to release records by a large and diverse range of artists, including Frank Zappa, Bootsy Collins, Medeski Martin and Wood, Brian Eno, Yoko Ono, and David Bowie. Rykodisc have also released comedy spoken word albums, including those of Bill Hicks. As if this wasn't enough, in the 90's Rykodisc also re-released Timothy Leary's 3 track record You Can Be Anyone This Time Around, which allegedly also features Jimi Hendrix on bass and Stephen Stills on guitar.
Though Rykodisc do release new records, their main focus seems to be on reissues. To this end, the have acquired the catalogues of many artists including Frank Zappa, Yoko Ono, My Life With Thrill Kill Kult, and Galaxie 500.
Rykodisc are distinctive for releasing CDs in slightly green-tinted jewel cases, looking not unlike recycled glass. The special case is a trademark of Rykodisc. Be sure not to lend someone a CD in a Rykodisc case, because when they inevitably break it, you’ll find it difficult to replace. Replacement green cases can be bought via mail order for $9 a dozen (see the FAQ on the Rykodisc site for details, under the heading “I love your green jewel boxes so much that I want to re-case my entire CD collection so that it matches my wallpaper. How do I do this?”). Rykodisc have also created oddities such as a Frank Zappa single on a mini CD, and an 81 minute Mission Of Burma album. Some “collectible” Rykodisc releases also include an “obi”, in this case a band of paper printed with Japanese kanji, rather than a Japanese belt.
The Rykodisc group also contains six other labels, many of whom deserve or have write-ups in their own right:
Restless, founded by William Hein and Joe Regis in 1991, acquired the Twin/Tone Records label in 1992. Restless are home to the catalogues and titles of independent artists including The Flaming Lips, They Might Be Giants, Ween, and The Dead Milkmen .
Hannibal, founded by Joe Boyd in 1980. Home to an eclectic range of artists, including many “world music” artists.
Gramavision, founded in 1979 by Jonathan F. P. Rose in Manhattan. Mainly concerned with jazz releases, but also encompassing funk, soul, and other 20th century genres.
Tradition, founded in the ’50s by Diane Hamilton to release Americana, folk music, and world music. Re-launched after it‘s acquisition by Rykodisc as a “mid-price (...) high quality” label.
Penalty, a new Rykodisc acquisition, releasing hip hop and urban records. Home to artists including J-Live, The Frontline, and The Beatnuts
RykoLatino, dedicated to releasing records from the Spanish-speaking world.
Rykodisk site - http://www.rykodisc.com/
“Happy 20th Rykodisc” - http://www.undercover.com.au/news/2004/20040120_ryko.html
“How Old Are You Now?” - http://www.bostonphoenix.com/boston/events/columns/documents/03551530.asp
untitled - http://www.fegmania.org/archives/fegmaniax/1997-1/v05.n179
Rykodisc Acquires Gramavision Label - http://static.highbeam.com/d/downbeat/november011994/rykodiscacquiresgramavisionlabelrecordcompanies/
Penalty Recordings - http://www.penaltyrecordings.com/
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