Sand 'n Surf...Burgers 'n Bongos...Rock 'n Roll...THE SUNDAZED PROFILE!
Bob Irwin got into the CD reissue business while it was in its infancy. Along the way, he not only explored the field...he has nearly single-handedly defined it.
By the mid-'80s, the major labels were churning out painful-sounding CD issues of their best- selling vinyl titles. Rhino had matured from its Wildman Fischer origins and was well on its way to becoming the home of Top 40-centric pop reissues. Bob Irwin was manager and buyer for a chain of music retailers in upstate New York. His stock, while soundly rooted in chart product and deep catalog classics, also reflected his musical roots (Bob was and remains a topnotch guitarist) and his passion for record collecting.
The stores Bob managed quickly earned a reputation for having most everything anyone wanted and then some, and the eclectic and interesting inventory attracted a similarly eclectic and interesting customer base.
Sundazed Owner / Producer Bob Irwin
It was then that Bob realized just how much certain kinds of music - music that had once been available, music that people remembered, music that customers wanted to own - had fallen through the cracks of the record business. You could easily find the big hits, the best-selling artists, the top-40 oldies, the deep blues and classical standards...what was missing were pop and rock's more interesting side roads and cul de sacs: the interesting byways of the pop charts, garage, psychedelia and rockabilly.
Acting on an educated hunch that he couldn't possibly be alone in his all-over-the-map musical tastes, Bob began Sundazed Music in 1989. Shaped by his own tastes and interests and tempered by the collective, unfulfilled wants of his customers, Bob started making CDs the way he'd always wanted to hear them: clean and complete. Sparked by the very same impulse that compels us to make tapes of interesting things for our friends, Sundazed began collecting critical accolades - and loyal customers - right out of the chute.
Sundazed's success comes from more than a happy collision of need and product. The company absolutely thrives on attention to detail, from meticulous tape research, to no-excuses mastering and manufacturing, to exhaustive and engaging liner notes and graphically-innovative design. And uniting all of that is Sundazed's secret weapon: fun. "The music we deal with was made to be fun," claims Irwin. "Its creators wanted their audience to laugh, dance, scream, jump around and blast it at ear-splitting volume for the general purpose of annoying adults. We try to capture and preserve as much of that joy as we possibly can, while maybe adding some extra fun of our own in the process."
That fun, that music, and that high-quality product soon came to the attention of the folks at Sony Music, whose Legacy division had just been formed to lend some legitimacy and structure to their reissue program. Legacy reached out to contact Bob Irwin, offering him the position of producer and consultant. Bob has become an indispensable asset to that label, responsible for just about every major rock reissue from the Sony/Legacy—and now the Sony/BMG Legacy—imprint. His work for the label includes more than 300 titles from such musical titans as Simon and Garfunkel, Janis Joplin, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jefferson Airplane, Santana, Carole King, Bob Wills, George Jones and John Denver. It's an impressive roster that stretches out over the horizon, far as the eye can see.
Bob Irwin has also done work for Arista Records, where he spruced up the back titles of Patti Smith, the Box Tops, Delphonics, Lee Dorsey, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop. Bob has also spent time remastering the historic jazz catalog of Verve Records, including landmark sessions.
Bob outside the studio with his other passion.
Now in its 22nd year, Sundazed Music continues to thrive no matter what trends the Wall Street pundits may predict for business. The Sundazed physical plant: ultra-sharp mixing and mastering studios, topnotch in-house graphic design, sales and publicity, bookkeeping and shipping - long ago outgrew its two-room origins.
The Sundazed distribution network is the envy of the music industry, aggressively and intelligently placing Sundazed releases in prime locations around the globe. And the Sundazed catalog continues to branch out in intriguing directions - offering the best work of musical giants such as Dick Dale, Buck Owens and Link Wray and the now-legendary 60's garage-rock pioneers like the Shadows of Knight, the Trashmen and the Remains, as well as major works by Alexander "Skip" Spence, Roger McGuinn and the Lovin' Spoonful.
The successful launch of its Euphoria! jazz subsidiary is particularly near to the label's heart with its cornucopia of improvisational fretboard magic by the likes of George Van Eps, Kenny Burrell, Hank Garland, Herb Ellis, Jimmy Raney, Chuck Wayne, Joe Puma and Joe Pass.
Bob & Mary Irwin with Roger McGuinn
Sundazed remains dedicated to the vinyl medium in LP, ten-inch and seven-inch form. Whether it's exact reproductions of storied works by Johnny Cash, the mono pressings of Bob Dylan's early albums and an unreleased live gem by NRBQ, or fabled longplayers by Otis Redding, Love with Arthur Lee, MC5 or the Rascals, Sundazed Music will never abandon vinyl.
While struggling in vain to shrug off the mantle of respectability generated by an avalanche of great press, Bob Irwin has managed to keep Sundazed fun and fascinating, not to mention a little bit unpredictable. It's also an ever-changing sandbox in which he can look forward to making castles each and every day.
Bob Irwin is also a freelance producer for many other labels. A list of his Sundazed and outside production credits can be found here.