Vinyl Reissues: Sorting Wheat from Chaff.

Browsing the Vinyl section in HMV today and notice a huge amount of Rory Gallagher’s back catalogue has been reissued including the wonderful Irish Tour. The stickers on the discs say the source is the original tape. Anyone know these Reissues and whether or not they are good?

I bought the Blueprint LP and it’s superb. Good dynamics and a classic kick off with  Walk on Hot Coals and Daughter of the Everglades. I don’t have this one on cd so can’t compare but bought the reissued Tattoo on cd and it’s a great sounding reissue too. I have Irish Tour on a previous cd version and Rory was some player. I missed him the few times he came to my part of Scotland. Big mistake.....

 

jatr

I've come across a few really good reissues lately.  I'll get too the others in due course, but first up, the Talking Heads reissues from Rhino.  I've mentioned some of these before, but tonight was my first listen to Speaking in Tongues.  Mastered by Sterling Sound, cut by Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering, and pressed by Optimal, you'd be expecting something really good, and you won't be disappointed. It's a favourite album of mine, evoking a particular time in my life out in the US when the album was first released.  Listening to it always brings back memories of good times.  As such, I find I have a few copies; my original copy bought in the US is gone - maybe I left it at the radio station or someone borrowed it and never returned it.  Anyway,  my local shop in the UK had put a copy aside for me when I came home for the holidays, and that's the one pictured here with the DMM sticker. It's still in really great condition even though it has been played a lot over the years.  There's also another German pressed original that I found about 6 or 7 years ago still sealed - I played it a couple of times at most.  And then of course the most recent Rhino reissue.

The Rhino is notable for being considerably heavier and thicker than the two originals.  However, the originals are flawlessly pressed.  The Rhino is close enough to perfect. Playing the Rhino first, I was really impressed with the impact and clarity.  I don't know what they source was but it didn't sound like it had suffered much over the years.  Compared to the German pressed original it added a hint of extra warmth to the upper bass and had a bit less stage width, but it was a touch more natural.   However, my original DMM seemed to eek out just a smidge more excitement - and putting me just a touch more "there".  But overall, I'm splitting hairs here.  What's remarkable is just how close they are overall. On that basis, short of finding another sealed original, the Rhino is a sure fire recommendation.  

So here's another really excellent reissue that I bought recently.  Frank Zappa's Hot Rats.

Remastered by Bernie Grundman and pressed by Pallas in the US, this is as nice a slab on vinyl as I've come across in recent years; a nicely printed gatefold sleeve, a poly-lined inner (hooray!) and an LP that's perfectly flat, perfectly centred and totally silent bar the music.  And what music!  Compared to my 1970 UK 2nd issue (admittedly getting on a bit and has seen some play over the years), it's like listening to a completely new performance - clarity and dynamics are much improved as is the apparent bandwidth. I don't know how it compares to an original US copy, but even if it matched this reissue. I'd be surprised if the surfaces were as quiet.  Oh, and joy of joy, at last a new LP where the record slides easily out of the inner sleeve without feeling like you've put hand onto a van de graf generator - no static cling!! All in all, a stunningly good reissue. Could it be that things are beginning to look up?

In my quest for the perfect vinyl Abba recording (not an oxymoron, I promise you) I seem to be eternally frustrated. Having just taken delivery of Abba Gold, as reissued by Back to Black, I have once again discovered the pitch inconstancy of an off centre pressig. Honestly it's enough to tip a demigod to embrace Streaming! Have any of you earthlings had the same issue, is it a byproduct of intergalactic travel?

Loki, of all the many pressing issues that can occur, an off-centre hole I find the most annoying by far.  I guess I may be rather pitch sensitive.  Unfortunately it has always been something of an issue, probably at its worst during the '70s.  IIRC UK ELO LPs on Jet Records were some of the worst culprits. Of course, there is an end-user solution; You can either painstakingly open up the hole and then mark the edge that needs to be closest to the spindle.  It's not exact, but it can really help, but it's tedious.  Or, you could track down one of these...

Image of Nakamichi TX-1000 linked from Vinylengine.

Richard Dane posted:

Loki, of all the many pressing issues that can occur, an off-centre hole I find the most annoying by far.  I guess I may be rather pitch sensitive.  Unfortunately it has always been something of an issue, probably at its worst during the '70s.  IIRC UK ELO LPs on Jet Records were some of the worst culprits. Of course, there is an end-user solution; You can either painstakingly open up the hole and then mark the edge that needs to be closest to the spindle.  It's not exact, but it can really help, but it's tedious.  Or, you could track down one of these...

Image of Nakamichi TX-1000 linked from Vinylengine.

Definitely worth it for a bit of Abba magic! These off-world ears are particularly pitch sensitive. It's one of the [many] reasons I graduated from the Planar 3 to the LP12 in 89. On the other hand I might just ask Direct Vinyl for a swap

Richard Dane posted:

Loki, of all the many pressing issues that can occur, an off-centre hole I find the most annoying by far.  I guess I may be rather pitch sensitive.  Unfortunately it has always been something of an issue, probably at its worst during the '70s.  IIRC UK ELO LPs on Jet Records were some of the worst culprits. Of course, there is an end-user solution; You can either painstakingly open up the hole and then mark the edge that needs to be closest to the spindle.  It's not exact, but it can really help, but it's tedious.  Or, you could track down one of these...

Image of Nakamichi TX-1000 linked from Vinylengine.

You'll be lucky.

I am not that enamoured with the various reissues I have tried. Frankly I think they are very expensive and the quality is a lottery, often being prone to vinyl noise of one sort or another. The only exceptions are those of 90s albums which weren't actually issued on vinyl such as the 3 Rush albums. Now they are worth having to complete the set. In my experience a decent second hand album is usually better by far, and way cheaper!

Today I received the latest reissue of Crosby Stills and Nash's 1977 album, CSN. 

I have a bit of a "thing" for Crosby, Stills and Nash.  I first got into them at school in the US, and then went out with a girlfriend who was a big fan and culminated in both of us getting to see them play live at the RAH when they came to London in '92. That concert sealed them in my affections and so any C,S&N release or reissue is always something of a notable event for yours truly. Needless to say, when the latest Rhino reissue was announced, analogue sourced and Chris Bellman cut, the expectations were high of something special.  

First I dug out my original UK copy.  It's in almost mint condition, cut by Allen Landau, but has always sounded just a bit off, with boxy sounding drums and a general lack of clarity. Playing it for the first time on the Rega RP10 did nothing to change that view, although I did think there was maybe a touch of extra inner detail , probably down to the Rega's abilities. Overall though, my UK copy was sonically a bit disappointing. The 24bit digital release of this album really showed what might be possible from the master tapes.  I opened the new Rhino reissue with great excitement.  Nice to see the alternative later picture of the three of them laughing together.  Even nicer to see that the stick on photo and textured sleeve has been replicated for the reissue. And.. oh hallelujah! Someone at Rhino has been paying attention ; you not only get a nice replica of the cardboard lyric inner, but you also get a separate anti-static inner sleeve containing the LP. Nice.

The LP was pressed flat and was immaculate - very quiet vinyl indeed.  Concentricity, while not 100% perfect on side 1, was within my own bounds of acceptability - i.e. I couldn't readily detect it through listening. And sound?  Well, let's just say it left my original UK copy for dead.  A really gorgeous LP, beautifully done.  Highly recommended.  Now I'm really looking forward to Daylight Again, which I have on order, and could we please have a similarly good reissue of Deja Vu?

I enjoyed your review of CSN Richard. You've inspired me to play my original US vinyl (with the early "serious" cover photo). Decent recording quality to it, but I wouldn't describe the SQ as 'immediate' or 'vibrant' with regard to strings or percussion. It does allow one to focus on the sweet, seamless vocals. I don't listen to the CSN album often enough to warrant purchase of the re-issue.

OTOH, I would be interested in a more lively re-issue Deja Vu as you suggested. I have two original LPs and the original CD of that album. Each is a similar standout for vocal quality, but any tightening of the percussion and speedier bounce of bass lines would be welcomed. 

It would have been interesting to have an original US copy with which to compare. My roommate had one, all those years ago, but I can't say i recall now whether it sounded good or not.  

I think we got a bit shafted here in the Uk with the original C,S&N issues. My early original UK "sofa" is nice enough, but a bit lacking in impact and weight. You always get the feeling that there's much more in the tapes. We probably got some copy of a copy tape from which to cut the LP over here. I have hesitated on getting the 2010 Rhino reissue as it had mixed reviews.  I'm still on the fence on that one..

As for my copy of Deja Vu, it was a bit better, but these days it's sounding a bit the worse for wear - in fact, it was my sister's original and so has been "loved" almost to death. I hope the master tapes are in rather better condition. If any reissue gets close to this one of CSN, then it should be a good 'un..

Now here was a very pleasant surprise; The latest Sony Legacy vinyl reissue of ELO's 1974 album, Eldorado.

But first a little history; I love this album.  In the early days it was my sister's well worn and rather abused copy that sufficed.  Unfortunately her Van De Molen record player had done its worst, so I knew that once I had a decent hifi of my own, I'd have to buy my own copy of Eldorado.  I bought it in mint condition from a secondhand record shop for very little money.  It was on the Jet label and in the dead wax was etched A1/B2 and "Allen", which i now know stood for Allen Landau. Later still I bought the CD and that sharpened and cleared up the rather murky sound of the vinyl copy.  Yes, that Jet "Allen" copy of eldorado had always been a bit of a disappointment. Surely the original recording wasn't that dull and gloopy? So in later years I was always on the lookout for an early pressing like the one I knew from my sister's collection.  Finally I managed to find one that was on the Warners label, had The Mastering Lab stamps on each side, and didn’t appear to be too scratched, overplayed or noisy. Wow, much better!  Like a different recording, this time done without the blankets and duvets over the band. Unfortunately, while in superficially very good condition, appearances deceived, and it had already been well played before I bought it, there were some repeated tics, some crackles and some vinyl roar here and there, but the sound quality had risen above that, and it was so much better than the Jet copy I had before, I was happy enough with it. And then one day, while having a bit of an ELO session on LP, I thought what joy got would be to have that TML cut Eldorado but in new condition on silent vinyl, perfectly pressed...

First let me say, no, this is not exactly that - it's a new cut, or rather, a new-ish cut, because it looks like it uses the metalwork from Music on Vinyl who released their reissue a couple of years back. Normally that would have me doubting whether it was any good.  MoV reissues can be a bit hit and miss, and they reputedly use whatever source material they can get hold of (admittedly as good as they can get), so no guarantees of original analogue master tapes and the like. However, one play of this Legacy reissue LP and any and all fears evaporated within the first minute; this might just be the best I've ever heard Eldorado! I have no idea what the source was for the cut, but it must have been a good one because this Lp successfully captures much of that big-boned, wide-screen, yet spatially focussed sound of great open reel tape. What's more the Lp was immaculately pressed and perfectly centred on a 180g piece of vinyl.  It comes in an antistatic inner, and while you don't get the original lyric inner, you do get a printed version of it on a glossy paper sheet.  

So, what a pleasant surprise this reissue has been. It leaves the Jet "Allen" issue for dead.  It challenges and arguably exceeds in many areas even the TML cut Warners original.  I'll hold off calling it an outright victory until I can find that mythical perfect mint Warners original, which of course, may not actually exist anymore, if ever.  In fact it's so much fun, I think I'll give it another spin tonight.  Oh, and the best bit was that it was a bit of a bargain too - I bought this reissue a week ago for under a tenner. I think I might try the Sony Legacy reissue of A New World Record next...

Thanks Richard. I’m an early ELO fan too. I was listening to A New World Record the other day and reminding myself of its myriad virtues. Jeff Lynne is a very talented artist. I’d be interested in what you think of the new Sony Legacy issue of ANWR.

For Eldorado is this the one?

ASIN: B01BF93FNI,  EAN: 888751752719

Kevin

Oh, and by the way, I listened to the LP again this evening and I can happily confirm that it's a really, really great reissue. It begs the question, why can't they all be like this?  And also, are there any more pleasant surprises like this in the Sony Legacy reissue series, or is this just a one off fluke?

Kevin, my Sony Legacy reissue of A New World Record arrived and I gave it a spin last night.  Unfortunately i couldn't find my original Jet issue - I remember having it out in the States but can't honestly recall when i last saw or played it, so maybe I lost it there.  Anyway, the long and the short of it... overall, very good, very enjoyable, but not as much of a "wow" as Eldorado. It may well be down to the recording itself, which has a fairly dense mix and is obviously more compressed than the earlier release. However, move to one of the simpler and more spacious tracks such as Above The Clouds on side 2, where the effects of compression are lessened and all of a sudden there's a glimmer of what could have been... Without reference to the original issue, it's hard to say though for sure. What I can say though is that it's once again an immaculate 180g pressing, flat, quiet, and perfectly centred, and comes with an anti-static inner.  Oh, and the outer sleeve is  embossed too, which is a nice touch.

Speaking of compression, while searching for my original ANWR I also dug out my original issue of ELO's Time. My copy is an Allen Zantz mastered issue (not to be confused with Allen Landau!) and I hadn't listened to it for many years - decades even!   What struck me was  the very high level of compression used on the recording.  This seems to be something of a hallmark to later ELO releases.  The shame is that it's excessive, and you do wonder just how much better the albums would sound someone had just dialled it all back a bit.

Richard Dane posted:

Loki, of all the many pressing issues that can occur, an off-centre hole I find the most annoying by far.  I guess I may be rather pitch sensitive.  Unfortunately it has always been something of an issue, probably at its worst during the '70s.  IIRC UK ELO LPs on Jet Records were some of the worst culprits. Of course, there is an end-user solution; You can either painstakingly open up the hole and then mark the edge that needs to be closest to the spindle.  It's not exact, but it can really help, but it's tedious.  Or, you could track down one of these...

Image of Nakamichi TX-1000 linked from Vinylengine.

looks gorgeous !    i wonder how good it can sound today. 

FR, I believe that hifi journalist Adam Smith managed to find one in recent years and wrote about it in a Hifi News vintage hifi review.  He seemed to like it very much.  

Anyway, glad you like the look of it. Good luck in finding one, and if it breaks and needs mending...

I posted to the What Vinyl thread a few weeks ago that I’d bought these MoFi issues. In the spirit of the thread I thought I’d report back on how I rate them. The bottom 2 in the pic are good, but I feel I could take or leave tbh. Happy to own them, but at the price, not sure I’d buy them again if I’d heard them first.

The top row are all tremendous and worth their not inconsiderable cost with a special mention to Pretenders1. I always enjoyed my original cheapskate copy, but this version finds far more on the disc. More importantly, it just connects and involves so much more. I almost did myself an injury trying to air drum and air guitar simultaneously to Mystery Achievement! 

kevin J Carden posted:

I posted to the What Vinyl thread a few weeks ago that I’d bought these MoFi issues. In the spirit of the thread I thought I’d report back on how I rate them. The bottom 2 in the pic are good, but I feel I could take or leave tbh. Happy to own them, but at the price, not sure I’d buy them again if I’d heard them first.

The top row are all tremendous and worth their not inconsiderable cost with a special mention to Pretenders1. I always enjoyed my original cheapskate copy, but this version finds far more on the disc. More importantly, it just connects and involves so much more. I almost did myself an injury trying to air drum and air guitar simultaneously to Mystery Achievement! 

Interesting. The Pretenders album is the least appealing to me and probably wound never have made to the pack in the first place. Still...enjoy them!

Richard Dane posted:
Loki posted:

How do you think the compression compares with Jeff Lynne's reworkings on Mr Blue Sky, The Very Best of ELO?

I haven't heard that one.  What's your view on it?

It's a while since I played it. JL plays all the instruments and arranged it with modern techniques to give the sound he was trying to achieve in the 70s. it offers an interesting insight into some absolute classics. Overall clearer and more dynamic; similar but different. I liked the album but prefer the originals, probably because I know them off by heart!

kevin J Carden posted:

Great, thanks. I just played side 2 of A New World Record BTW. My version is noisy and very scratchy, but the music still leaps out and grabs you by the ears and sheesh that is a perfect side of Pop/Rock ain’t it?

An all time favourite. I remember playing it repeatedly on my Grandfather's Fidelity Music centre which boasted a double sided flip over sapphire stylus 'because they're better' . Original Jet pressing.

84176

Analogue Productions reissues of Norah Jones's records are all excellent and well worth the extra over the price of the original Blue Note releases. I don't have the box set in the picture or Come Away With Me but do have all the others the covers are also beautifully reproduced as is the vinyl SQ is excellent and dead quiet.

Loki posted:
Richard Dane posted:
Loki posted:

How do you think the compression compares with Jeff Lynne's reworkings on Mr Blue Sky, The Very Best of ELO?

I haven't heard that one.  What's your view on it?

It's a while since I played it. JL plays all the instruments and arranged it with modern techniques to give the sound he was trying to achieve in the 70s. it offers an interesting insight into some absolute classics. Overall clearer and more dynamic; similar but different. I liked the album but prefer the originals, probably because I know them off by heart!

Thanks Loki.  I might check it out then...

Loki posted:
Richard Dane posted:
Loki posted:

How do you think the compression compares with Jeff Lynne's reworkings on Mr Blue Sky, The Very Best of ELO?

I haven't heard that one.  What's your view on it?

It's a while since I played it. JL plays all the instruments and arranged it with modern techniques to give the sound he was trying to achieve in the 70s. it offers an interesting insight into some absolute classics. Overall clearer and more dynamic; similar but different. I liked the album but prefer the originals, probably because I know them off by heart!

Just listening to it again now. Yes, clearer, warmer, different emphases and moments of clarity, and better dynamics, all with the authentic JL/ELO sound. At least it's a first pressing in transparent blue vinyl.

Joni Mitchell - Blue. 2007 US Rhino Reissue. 

This one has been around a while now, and has gained some notoriety.  Mastered and cut by Steve Hoffman and Kevin Gray at AcousTech mastering.  This reissue is a straight cut to vinyl of the master tape - warts 'n all. It's both wonderfully immediate yet also uncompromising.  Its cut pretty hot and demands a top quality front end to really get the best from it. Nicely pressed, although I think I detected a second or two of no-fill on one track.  I didn't even bother comparing with my '80s UK pressing. This is far superior and may well be the definitive release on any format for this album.

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