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A HEAVYWEIGHT PIECE OF VINYL LET DOWN BY LACK OF ATTENTION TO DETAIL...
on 29 October 2017
Despite owning the essential two-CD Deluxe Edition of LIVE AT LEEDS - which contains the entire concert - I thought it would be nice to acquire a reissue of this crucial live album on vinyl in its original configuration and featuring just six of the numbers performed on the night.
Firstly, I've no complaints about the quality of the vinyl itself. Cut at Abbey Road using the half-speed mastering process, the sound is rich and powerful and compares most favourably with the CD. The original "handwritten" labels are also present and correct at the centre of the record, in keeping with the original vinyl pressing. Unfortunately, however, the quality control employed with the disc itself hasn't been extended to the reproduced packaging.
For those like me who didn't have the opportunity to buy the album when it was originally released, the record and its plain white sleeve slotted into a kind of pouch inside the gatefold sleeve, while a compartment inside the front cover was the home to a dozen inserts which were reproductions of agents' letters, contracts, concert remuneration details and live photographs. Despite the plain, rubber-stamped sleeve giving the impression of a hastily-pressed bootleg recording, LIVE AT LEEDS was actually quite a feast for the eyes as well the ears. Unfortunately, these details have not been reproduced on this vinyl reissue. Instead, the gatefold opens up to reveal what is essentially a photograph of the original layout, with an image of the record in its plain white sleeve on the right and the inserts nicely ordered one atop the other but in strictly 2-D format on the left. Meanwhile the record itself slides out from a conventional record-sleeve opening and is housed inside a new but inauthentic inner sleeve which features a kind of collage of all of the original inserts spread across the front and back.
Sonically speaking, I'm more of a CD fan than vinyl (I suppose because it's more the format that I've grown up with) and so when I buy a vinyl reissue attention to detail with the packaging is what is particularly important to me. Not having any of the physical inserts and changing the way in which the record fits inside the jacket is something of a let-down. A lot of care has been taken with the record itself here, and it's a shame that the visual flair of the original package hasn't been recaptured as well. I'm sure that this could have been achieved as there was a superb vinyl reissue of THE WHO SELL OUT released a couple of years back (also by Universal Music) which contained a reproduction of that album's fold-out poster. Not sure what's gone wrong here. If UMC are prepared to spend the money repressing the album onto vinyl, then surely it can find the cash to reconstruct the artwork too.
So then, this vinyl reissue of LIVE AT LEEDS presents the album as a still-fiery listening experience. Visually, though, the attention to detail leaves a lot to be desired. A shame.