Labels With Shortcomings – Simply Vinyl

The Who – Quadrophenia – Simply Vinyl Reviewed

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Sonic Grade: B

[These are old notes from many years ago. Take them with a grain of salt.]

Wow! This Universal Heavy Vinyl pressing from circa 2000 (the turn of the century!) is superb, not all that far from a good Track original, and quieter for sure. 

Side One rocks incredibly hard from start to finish. What a great album. It has to rank right up there with the best rock of the ’70s, right behind Who’s Next and probably on a par with Tommy, good company indeed, since we LOVE all three of those albums here at Better Records. (Both Tommy and Who’s Next are Top 100 Titles, but Quadrophenia is not far behind either of them for sound or music. (more…)

Derek and the Dominos – Layla (2 LPs) – Remastering the Remaster (and Keeping It a Secret)

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NEWSFLASH! [circa 2010]

Noticing that this title had recently come back into print, and remembering that we used to like the SVLP of Layla, we decided to order a current copy of the album from SIMPLY VINYL. Soon enough it came in, we played it, and we were pretty shocked to hear that the damn thing sounded just plain AWFUL.

Was I wrong about it before? Only one way to know. I pulled out my old Review Copy from way back when it first came out and sure enough that early pressing sounded dramatically BETTER than the new one. The stampers were completely different of course; someone had remastered it recently and ruined it.

The earlier SVLP pressing, though no award winner by any means, was at least a good record. This new pressing was nothing but a piece of crap. 

Our Old Comments

Simply Vinyl did a great job with this one, one of the most problematical recordings in the history of rock. This music will never sound as good as we want — just get that notion out of your head — but at least this pressing gets the overall sound right. It’s a lot better than 90% of the copies out there.

We stand by those remarks.

If you want a better sounding Layla, one of our famous Hot Stamper copies, you can be sure that one of these days we will do the shootout and again and have something with much better sound to offer.

The price will be many hundreds of dollars though, so for those of you who do not want to spend that kind of money, this is the best sound and vinyl quality we know of at anywhere near the price.

Who’s Next… to Remaster the Album Badly? Our Audiophile LP Overview

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The following was written in the early 2000s.

Who’s Next has been remastered for audiophiles many, many times, more often than not quite badly in our opinion. To be fair we should point out that our opinion has changed quite a few times over the course of the last twenty years.

This then is our story.

MCA MASTERPHILE
Back in the days when I was foolishly in the thrall of half-speed mastered audiophile pressings, I thought that the MCA Masterphile was king. That was probably the mid to late ’80s.

BRITISH TRACK LABEL ORIGINALS
By the early ’90s I had discovered how good the Black Label Original British Track pressings could be and started preferring those. A bit murky but tubey-magical, full and rich, precisely the way a good British rock recording (Faces, Jethro Tull) should be.

JAPANESE AND GERMAN
Of course by then I had played numerous Japanese and German pressings, none of which sounded right to my ears, then or now.

MCA HEAVY VINYL
In 1995 the MCA Heavy Vinyl version came out, mastered by Kevin Gray. I quite liked it at the time but no longer do; it’s brightened up and much of the fine detail of the recording is missing. It’s also notoriously badly pressed, resulting in stitches in the vinyl that are quite audible on practically every copy.
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Crowded House – Woodface – A Simply Vinyl Winner

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Sonic Grade: B (or better!) 

Woodface easily meets the definition of a Desert Island Disc. I’ve played it hundreds of times and enjoy it more with each play, which insures that on my desert island I’ll never get sick of it. To my way of thinking it contains some of the most original, melodic, hook-laden, sophisticated popular music recorded in the last twenty years. Astonishingly (to me, anyway) it didn’t even chart here in the states, a sad commentary about the state of the music biz, a state that only seems to worsen as the decades roll on.

In Defense of Simply Vinyl – Are Their LPs Really Worse Than Anybody Else’s?

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Making Movies on Simply Vinyl had been out of print for quite a while, so when it was repressed recently [in the mid-2000s I would guess] we took the opportunity to give it a fresh spin and were SHOCKED — that’s right, SHOCKED — to hear how good it sounded, every bit as good as we remember it from years ago.

It sounded like a good British import, not some 180 gram remastered wannabe. Most 180 gram records don’t do anything for us these days [circa 2008] — they leave a lot to be desired as we point out left and right in our commentaries — but here’s a wonderful exception to the dismal heavy vinyl rule.

But it is a good British (or Dutch, same thing) import, because Simply Vinyl is not in the remastering business.

Addedum 2012 

We played another copy on SV a year or so later, 2009 or 2010 as I recall, and it did not sound nearly as good as the one we describe above, for what that’s worth.

Also SV has “newer” masterings of many of their records which in our experience are uniformly inferior to the earlier ones. I would not buy any SV if I were you unless I heard it first or could return it.

 

Blondie – Parallel Lines on Audiophile Vinyl

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Sonic Grade: D or worse

All Hall of Shame Pressings.

EMI and Simply Vinyl both released Heavy Vinyl versions of the album with little sonic success. I remember being underwhelmed by the Simply Vinyl version, the perfect example of the smeary sub-gen sound you get when a record is made from a dub tape. The EMI 180 was brighter and thinner and every bit as wrong in its own way. Choosing among them would have been difficult. The best choice: none of the above. 

As is so often the case, the Heavy Vinyl Reissues are simply a disgrace.

MOBILE FIDELITY

Two words: compressed muck (like most domestic pressings, to be fair). (more…)

Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac – A Simply Vinyl Winner

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Sonic Grade: B

160 gram Simply Vinyl pressing of this EXCELLENT LP. This is the early, BLUESY Mac, about as far from Rumours as you can get. The sound here is excellent — dark and smooth like a good British Blues album should be.  Simply Vinyl did a superb job here.

Correction: an unnamed mastering engineer at the label that owns the tape did a superb job. Simply Vinyl isn’t in the business of mastering or remastering ANYTHING. They leave that up to the pros at the record labels.

Sometimes those guys screw it up and sometimes they get it right.

Roxy Music – Avalon – A Simply Vinyl Mastering Success ? Or Is It?

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Sonic Grade: B (I’m guessing)

[These notes were written many years ago, which means that we ourselves may not agree with some or all of the commentary.] 

This version just plain KILLS most domestic copies and probably quite a few Brit ones too. Simply Vinyl did a superb job here.

Correction: an unnamed mastering engineer at the label did a superb job. Simply Vinyl isn’t in the business of mastering ANYTHING. They leave that up to the pros at the record labels. Sometimes those guys screw it up and sometimes they get it right. (more…)

Gerry Rafferty – City To City – A Simply Vinyl Disaster

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Sonic Grade: F

Hall of Shame pressing and another Simply Vinyl pressing debunked.

We had two copies of the Heavy Simply Vinyl pressing to audition as part of our last big shootout a few years back. We used to actually like it, but it now sounds worse than we remember, especially in the low end, which is a blurry mess. Better than any domestic copy I suppose, but that’s not really saying much.    (more…)

Genesis – Abacab on Simply Vinyl

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Sonic Grade: F

Hall of Shame pressing and another Simply Vinyl pressing debunked.

Dreadful sound.

Check out our Rock and Jazz Heavy Vinyl Scorecard to read all about the latest winners and losers.