on 29 June 2015
I'm new to all this 180 gram vinyl, being more of an original press person... But of course, a title like this is impossible to find in the original - certainly at any affordable price.
So I thought I'd give this a go (especially as it was only £9!).
I have a recent remastered CD of this (IMCD 71), and wanted to see how it compared on vinyl.
The sleeve is a nice single disc textured card (I think I used to have wallpaper like this!), with little by way of sleeve notes, but then, it is simply presented as an authentic copy of the original press, so it was that way in the first instance... and the inner sleeve is a bit of a head scratcher, as it's a thick glossy, white paper/card sleeve with a full size scan of an original blue island inner sleeve (wrinkles, faded edges, and even an island label showing through and all!) on both sides, which confused me for a moment. But since so much effort has been made to reproduce the vinyl and sleeve with such quality, would it kill Universal to put a proper, decent poly-lined inner sleeve in there?
...I therefore treat the supplied inner sleeve as a curiosity, or an insert, and recommend you transfer the disc to a poly-lined one yourself.
Which brings me to the vinyl itself.
Being somewhat old-school, in that I like to actually take my vinyl out of the shrink wrap and play it (I know, crazy eh?!!!), I was not disappointed with this... a lovely thick piece of vinyl, wonderfully pressed, with replicas of the original pink -rim Island palm tree labels firmly affixed.
And the Audio was great to match too... absolutely silent vinyl in the quiet areas (The reason I opted for this over the other two albums first, as the nature of the first two, being more sparse and introspective, would be more revealing of noise between the music), but the denser arrangements of the strings and other additional instrumentation on this album are nicely spaced, and defined (On the CD, these various elements can confound one another a little in places).
The sound is a little more evenly mastered than my CD, and it's better for actually picking out Nick Drake's actual guitar work on a song like: Sunday (Rather it picks itself out better).
The song that most benefits from this vinyl edition is Northern Sky, where on the CD, the organ can be a little stodgy, and overwhelm the other elements.... everything here has it's own space.
So there is more Nick Drake here to notice than previously was the case.
One gripe about the package is the Back To Black Voucher, which, although a nice bonus, allowing you to go to the site and get a choice of high quality MP3 or FLAC versions of this (One recorded from the Drake Family's "Gramophone Player", directs you to a site that no longer exists as www.backtoblack.com, but something called ulocker, and I have so far been unable to get that to work (had to get support which I'm waiting to hear from). But hey, I can record the Vinyl to CD myself, and no loss there.
Finally, as regards the delivery, I got this from Amazon stock, which had a rather open ended delivery estimate, but ordered on a Wed, with a view to a couple of weeks time frame, but got email it was in the post next day, and got it by the same Saturday... so top marks to Amazon.
... and at £9, I call that a Bargain!