We have looked at the scam of the reissue before. I’ll give you a couple minutes to read how Philippe shattered my virgin vinyl illusions and showed how my New disc fetish helped the Mafia if not international terrorism.
Ok. Back to today.
When we wrote that, vinyl was not so hot. It still was small, cult and confusing. Things have moved on.
And that is why Tom was able to use his tartan totem power to get a hold of a shitonne of pristine 180g reissues for less than HMV ever paid. A lot of them are far better than I gave credit for before. Look out for them.
So what has changed?
Major labels like the Columbia/Sony stable really do make an effort to press discs as good or better than happened back in the day. Sundazed tracks down original tapes like an electric bloodhound. Light in the Attic find the artists, producers and whatever is still alive - adding extra detail, liner notes and not the usual throwaway extra trax.
And yet, and yet, the original is often best. Rat customers know it. That is why they will not pay too much for reissues, even the ones that are as good or better than the original.
It is the thrill of the chase, the sense of touching and bringing to life an artefact of our past, and more.
In many cases, the original is best because the artists were there to hear and supervise the whole process. From cutting lacquer to the test press and what came to the shops. Original does not even always mean the first press. As much as collectors love the very very first Black Sabbath issues - guess what - the next lot pressed by WWA used exactly the same metalwork as Vertigo. Therefore the stampers and the wax are dare I say it the same as the first press.
Later attempts were cash ins, and until vinyl woke in the last few years they were as hit or miss as a sideshow casino.
Some ‘Scorpio’ (and if you don’t know what that is, you did not take enough time reading the link above) were straight from two inch analogue tape or else from Sony digital masters at higher resolution than life. Others were taken from CD, or battered stampers taken out of a skip.
Vinyl was ‘heavy’ 140g or more in most of history. But the OPEC Oil rape in 1972 started to take it down - and the fact you can heat up old stuff to make it new like a bad student pizza started to make it all suck. But 180g - what's that about?
It means less warps, better tracking, and deeper grooves. Much like something pressed fresh and sexy in Wembley in 1961. Should you pay FULL price for it?
You do not know the mastering, the source, the care.
At at rare Rat price? Take a punt. This record will be well made and last. Get the original if you can, but in a fresh state, it will cost a lot more, even if it existed.
Why do so many reissues until now suck goat sack? It is not just the source files.
Even as a vinyl vulture, I can tell you 24-bit 192khz files are far better, clearer and more honest than all but the most sacred two inch master tape. No. It is a lack of skills and competition.
As soon as the CD scam killed mainstream vinyl, the number of pressying plants tanked. That meant the number of people who knew the whole process - who dug the craft of metalwork - all the steps that take you from a master mix tape (or sorry, file) to the final record - went lower than blacksmiths.
Quietly, in the last few years, this has started to turn around.
Surviving big big pressing plants like RTI, Pallas, GZ Media and the ex-EMI Vinyl Factory held on. New entrants like Quality Vinyl Pressings have brought the best of digital tech to vinyl by hacking old machines. Things like automatic temperature control to make every disc the best it can be.
Many talk of a vinyl bubble. A fad. All these old factories at full tilt and sometimes to be fair making not so great discs under the pressure.
But money talks and bullshit walks. Most vinyl, old or new, is bought by people under 35. Top consumer electronics companies are making or will make turntables again. People are scouring the Earth and risking murder to get whatever decent pressing machines are left. And modifying them with new tech to make them better.
The big story is that on the quiet - GZ Media, and more importantly, the veteran Pallas have created new pressing machines. This is an investment of many hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Vinyl never died. It is now more alive than ever.
And yet, and yet. Always go for the best. And that means originals or reissues but only at a Rat price. Because to pay for those machines, believe you me getting a ‘new’ disc will be worse value than a gold plated Big Mac.