Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas Has Arrived!

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I’m quietly celebrating the holidays with a new addition to my vast Jim Henson library – this is the Record Store Day exclusive limited edition picture disc of the music from Henson’s 1977 television special, Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas. The soundtrack was issued for the very first time for Record Store Day in 2018 and was limited to 2000 copies worldwide. This year a picture disc version was issued in a run of 2,500. Both editions were issued by the soundtrack record label, Varèse Sarabande.

Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas RSD 2019 Picture Disc 12-17-19

All versions of the soundtrack feature 15 tracks from the TV special, a previously unreleased song called “Born in a Trunk” that didn’t make it to air, as well as extended liner notes featuring interviews with the film’s puppet performers, and more.

The film was Jim Henson’s most complex endeavor to date. As Dave Goelz reflected in 2011:

“We built a 55-foot-long river that was about 10 feet wide and went all the way across the stage, and they built a radio-control rowboat for Emmet. It was so lovely and lyrical to see Emmet rowing his mom down the river. The idea that there was life along the river and that it was all interconnected was a great metaphor for people.”

The soundtrack features all of Paul Williams’ music from the special, including the fan-favorite, “Riverbottom Nightmare Band” and the heartwarming, “Where the River Meets the Sea,” the latter of which was featured on the classic John Denver & the Muppets: A Christmas Together LP in 1979.

Though I was too young to have seen the original television broadcast in ’77, I had the great pleasure of seeing Emmet Otter along with The Bells of Fraggle Rock together in the theater when they were featured by Fathom Events on December 16, 2018.

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Now I’ve added the picture disc to my library of 60+ Jim Henson-related LPs. (There’s one more Henson holiday disc I hope to secure, but as it has almost never surfaced on the resale market I’m going to keep it under wraps until one appears or a reissue is released.)

Happy holidays, everyone!

Vintage Receiver Upgrade – Norwegian Wood

It’s an exciting day at Innerspace Labs! Our latest vintage amplifier upgrade provides clean and detailed sound and gorgeously complements our Denon DP-60L turntable as both units feature a rich rosewood finish, further mirrored by the liquid wood ear cups of our AudioQuest Nighthawk closed-back circumaural headphones and our pending order of ORA GrapheneQ wood ear cupped cans presently forecast for delivery later this year from Kickstarter.

Long-time readers may recall that our first receiver upgrade took place in 2009 when our beloved and trusty Yamaha CR-840 (1979-1981) Natural Sound Receiver was replaced with a McIntosh 4280.

Here is the Yamaha –

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And the MAC 4280 –

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Sadly, the amp had some issues and after 3 years of service attempts at McIntosh Labs headquarters it was declared dead.

In 2012 I was generously gifted a replacement MAC – a MAC C39 pre-amplifier paired with an Integra adm2.1 power amplifier. They made my Focal 814v Chorus series floor speakers sing beautifully.

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Eventually, that MAC was retired as well, and I returned to my beloved Yamaha which, with only a single transistor replacement around 2006 and a Deoxit cleaning in 2019, it has served me faithfully for nearly two decades, and has been kicking since it was built 38 years ago in 1981.

But Sunday evening it occurred to me that I had one more component I’d never tried with my system. This is the Tandberg TR-2060, manufactured in Norway, which debuted in late 1977 and was introduced to US markets until about 1981. It originally retailed for $700 in 1977 ($2,919.85 in today’s dollars.) Though fairly scarce, they are available on the used market at an affordable price and perform impressively well. I found it for a few dollars at a junk sale several years ago.

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The amp has two sets of speaker outputs with a power output of 60 watts per channel into 8Ω (stereo). The only snag is that the inputs are DIN connectors. Thankfully, I remembered precisely where I’d stored a pair of DIN-to-RCA conversion cables which I’d ordered years back when I originally acquired the receiver.

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I polished and connected it and was really pleased with its powerful sound. The classic Yamaha Natural Sound receivers of the same vintage are far more neutral, and there is really something to be said for the stunning rosewood cabinet of the Tandberg matching the finish of my Denon. (I am an unabashed fanatic for rosewood.)

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It’s always a thrill to incorporate new vintage gear into my setup, and I’ll be curious to see what I think of the punchier, bolder sound this amp provides over the more transparent signature of the Yamaha, and to test various favorite recordings with both the speaker and headphone outputs. It will be a fun project for the spring!