Light in the Attic Gets Some Mainstream Media Love
by Cat Johnson
Light in the Attic Records, one of the great reissue record labels of our day, is one of those labels whose reputation acts as a stamp of approval. They take quality, oftentimes overlooked artists and albums, give them a top-notch reissue treatment and release them to a small but loyal listening audience. Among the label’s vast treasure trove of artists are Rodriguez, Roky Erickson, Karen Dalton, Betty Davis, Jackie Mittoo, Digable Planets, Sly Stone, and many more.
While I may not love every album the label puts out, I definitely check most of them out, knowing that they’ve been reissued with the utmost care, attention to detail and respect for the artist. Among record store regulars, vinyl enthusiasts and fans of under-appreciated artists, Light in the Attic is well known and highly respected; in the wider world, not so much.
Considering their under-the-pop-radar approach, I was surprised to see a recent feature on the label in Entertainment Weekly. In that world of plastic personas and hit-making teams, the integrity of Light in the Attic is a bit out of place, but if the media attention supports them in doing their thing, then I say, rock on.
Here’s an excerpt from the article:
For the LITA team, patience isn’t just a virtue, it’s a job requirement. “I tried to get Lee Hazlewood for years when he was alive,” Sullivan says. “He was just your classic old-school curmudgeon. He just did not want to budge. It was one of maybe two times I made a physical sample of the CD to send him and his family. He turned us down and it was heartbreaking. Sadly, he passed away [in 2007], so we had to start explaining to the family that we could do a really special job with it. Fortunately, they came around. From the time I started working on it to the time that first one came out, it was seven years.”
Though LITA’s releases are rarely blockbusters, the label found its first real breakout with Wheedle’s Groove, a compilation of vintage Seattle-area soul and funk tracks that even locals were unaware of. “That was a really definitive one,” Sullivan says. “We were documenting something so off the radar. It’s material from the ’60s and ’70s, private-press and self-released 45s. These are people who went to the same high school as Jimi Hendrix and Quincy Jones. I was born and raised in the suburbs of Seattle, and my knowledge of that scene was zero. That was one we were really proud of, and still are.”
Read the article in its entirety here.