Well, I had a busy weekend of cooking and entertaining, but I just couldn't resist the siren call of Kate, so just before I had to start preparing dinner last night I slipped away to have a listen to the new reissue of The Kick Inside. Then, this evening I dug out my originals and listened to those and then compared a few tracks between original and reissue.
First, I need to get one disappointment off my chest. Surely Kate could have looked to her old friend Peter Gabriel as an example, and released some or perhaps all of these reissues as 45rpm double LPs? Or maybe that's something for a later date. Either way, it's a small gripe, but not without grounds, as an album like The Kick Inside would certainly benefit from the extra groove space that a double album would afford.
Anyway, as to what you get, the sleeve artwork is pretty much identical to the original. Only a very slightly darker, more contrasty image gives it away from the front. On the back, you have a barcode and the Fish People logo alongside that of Parlophone. However, there has been a slip up with this reissue. If you look at the spine carefully there's a spelling mistake - it says "The Kick Insde". I don't know how many are affected - maybe all the current batch, but I suppose it will be rectified at some point, and for future collectors that will be indicator differentiating the earliest issues from those coming later.
The inner sleeve is poly lined black paper and the LP itself immediately differentiates itself from the original by sporting the Fish People label and artwork in place of the original '70s large stylised EMI logo label. The vinyl is heavy and appears well pressed - flat and perfectly centred on my example. The deadwax reveals the BG etching signifying the lacquer was cut by Bernie Grundman - usually a positive sign.
So, first spin of the LP in its entirety and I was delighted to find that in isolation it was an excellent cut. Any deterioration in the original tapes was hard to detect. Certainly I couldn't hear any obvious drop-outs or azimuth issues. I loved listening to the entire album on vinyl. I realised that I hadn't yet heard the original on the new RP10, so wasn't sure how this new reissue would compare. Memory told me that on all my original copies, track to track could be a bit variable. For example, while the opener on Side One, Moving, always sounded really good, the corresponding opener on side two, James and the Cold Gun, could sound a bit boxed in and with obviously less sparkle to the sound. A play this evening of one of the originals confirmed that my memory was right, and against the reissue, on Moving it was pretty close to the original; Brighter though, and with a more extended bottom end, but maybe lacking a touch of the creaminess that could also be considered a certain opacity in the original. Where the reissue really showed its superiority though was on James and the Cold Gun, where the extended bandwidth and extra clarity really made a difference to the track. This mean't that track to track the sound quality of the reissue was more consistent.
But to get things into some perspective, The Kick Inside was always a rather lovely sounding record, so any reissue had its work cut out to make any big improvements. The fact that the new reissue seems to succeed in doing so, with little or no apparent sense of any digital flattening or graininess is very pleasing. The bottom line is, which one will I reach for the next time I want to hear The Kick Inside? Well, it's a tough one, I love the original, and after so many years its particular sound is firmly imprinted on me, but I think it will be the reissue - it just seems to give me more. Hopefully time and further listening will bear this out.
Next up will be Lionhart...