Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Case of the Soundgarden Vinyl

Some wisdom from a newbie---
Written by Jeremy R. NYC 2012

Four albums and seven songs ago, the Vinyl Vagabonds schooled me in the joys of spinning the black circle.
Listening to their vinyl records, I heard beats, rhythms, and melodies I never knew existed in my favorite songs.  Songs I thought I knew so well!
I became a changed man that weekend. CDs were dead to me. The era of Vinyl had begun.

I bought a turntable, two speakers, a receiver, and some plugs.
Now all I coveted were some of my favorite albums on wax.
After an internet search of record stores in the area, I found a half dozen were a subway ride away.
I got my wallet and my want list, and set out the front door.

After searching a few stores I discovered most of the LPs I craved were either out-of-print or hardly pressed at all.  Lame-o.
I couldn't find anything from my list. I searched high. I searched low.
My hopes dashed, I prepared to shuffle home empty handed when...
I found the mighty Soundgarden's studio album Badmotorfinger still in the plastic!
Wow, one of my favorite records from 1991. Too good to be true!
Without a moments hesitation I plunked down my cash for the LP and eagerly headed to home base.
The good stuff

I returned back to my place still excited by my find, when something caught my eye...
The album jacket appeared new; right out of the printing plant. It didn't look over 20 years old.  Not only that but the art seemed a hair fuzzy, not 100% clear to the naked eye.
There was a sticker on the cover that said "Made In Holland".
Something was definitely fishy....
Then it struck me-
Was I possibly holding a bootleg, an unofficial pressing of the record?  I'd had some experience with bootlegs in the past, many of which were from Italy.  Those boots were entirely concerts and unreleased material that the record labels were sitting on.  This was one of my favorite albums, available in any record shop!  Why would it be bootlegged?

I removed the plastic, and pulled it out of its paper sleeve so I could further inspect my purchase.
The album felt heavy (a good sign because I heard that the cheap stuff is usually pressed on thin vinyl).
I checked out the center label stickers.
It had the "A & M Records" logo, printing information, and the sticker looked sharp and official.
Was I just being a doubter? I began to change my mind; this could be the real deal after all! 
One way to know for sure; lay down that crooked arm, and drop a needle on it...
I'm happy to say the vinyl sounded AMAZING!  Every Cornell yelp, Thayil crunch, Shepherd baseline, and Cameron crash right where it should be.  Soundgarden-ing richer than ever!
Why the fuzzy art?  My guess is, the album jacket looks unclear because it was tough for the manufacturing plant to get the original artwork.  They just computer scanned an old jacket, and reprinted it.  It's not perfect, but it's a minor gripe.  The vinyl itself is likely a master tapes pressing, recently done in Europe.  A legal reissue with pristine sound.

As far as I'm concerned, it's the real deal.  Case closed.

No comments:

Post a Comment