Reviews of Stuff i Bought Before I Moved To Japan

In the weeks before my move to Tokyo I bought a few ridiculous high-end LPs and special editions with the intention of reviewing them for this website. However, in my efforts to maintain two websites, a part-time job, sell my house, pack my things and plan my move to Tokyo, I damn near had a nervous breakdown and decided that something had to give – so no reviews.

But now that I’m finally starting to settle down into a somewhat comfortable routine in my new home, I’d thought I’d catch up and offer some quick reviews of everything I bought up until my move to Japan.

 

The Wild Swans
Incandescent/The Coldest Winter In A Hundred Years

VIN180LP065aThe Wild Swans, in all their various incarnations, are one of the greatest bands you’ve probably never heard of. A product of the post-punk Liverpool scene of the late-70s, the original version of the group never released an album, and instead only put out a smattering of singles before breaking up.

Those said singles were collected in the amazing 2003 compilation Incandescent, which is now just finally seeing a vinyl release. This 2LP set pretty much includes everything the original lineup of The Wild Swans ever put out, which includes two amazing versions of their jaw-droppingly brilliant “The Revolutionary Spirit,” as well as a six-track radio session (which closes with yet another version of that awesome tune).

Two versions of this vinyl-only reissue have been made available. The first is a standard gatefold release which I’m sure looks nice, but the real one to get is the limited edition hardback book edition, which encases the LPs in an amazing high-quality book complete with linear notes by sole constant member Paul Simpson, as well as plenty of great pictures from the era. About the only negative thing I can say about the release is that it doesn’t include a download code or bonus CD. I suspect that this is because of a rights issue, but it’s still a pretty big drag.

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The Coldest Winter In A Hundred Years originally came out in 2011 and was the first release by The Wild Swans in 21 years. Although only singer Simpson remains from the original line-up, the group still sound just as majestic and magical as they did in 1982, making The Coldest Winter In A Hundred Years a fantastic album worthy off the band’s beloved legacy.

This new super-deluxe edition treats the album with the respect it deserves. In fact, it’s one of the mostbeautiful and well-designed super deluxe editions that I’ve come across in recent memory. From it’s laser-etched cover to the wealth of content within, which includes b-sides, alternate versions and rare cuts, it’s an amazing package made all the better thanks to the quality of the material. As great as the album itself was, many of the b-sides and alternate cuts are just as good or even better, making this one awesome collection of music. And unlike the Incandscent re-release, it includes a CD, meaning you can take the amazing music on the road with you.

I don’t know if either of these are still available to buy, but if you see any versions of either record, pick them up – especially if you love music from that post-punk scene.

 

Hardware Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
HARDWARE-SLEEVE

Hardware is an utterly bizarre 1989 gorey sci-fi clusterfuck of a movie starring Patrick Dempsey  as a soldier who buys a piece of scrap metal for his artist girlfriend only to find out it’s a robot warrior from hell that’s determined to eradicate all of mankind.

Oh and Lemmy is in it for like one second.

It’s a pretty great flick, but the score never got an official release, something that composer Simon Boswell remedied this past January by offering a multitude of versions from his official site. I bought the biggest and most expensive one (because..I don’t know) – a box set that includes the soundtrack on 2LPs, a CD and on a USB card. It also includes autographs by Boswell and director Richard Stanley, and even a copy of the movie itself on an all-region Blu-ray. 

This should be awesome, but it has a number of glaring defects. First of all, the box set itself is rather flimsy. Mine came in the mail with several dents, and the inside of the box is so poorly designed that you can’t hold it up vertically without the contents shuffling about. Finally, the MP3s included on the USB card are completely without ID3 tags, and considering how much work they put into this, that’s just embarrassingly lazy.

Great audio quality, great music, HORRIBLE presentation. They should be ashamed of themselves.

 

Death Waltz Releases
DWBLOG

Horror label extraordinaire Death Waltz released three soundtracks this December; one for the Fulci gorefest New York Rpper; another for the 2013 documentary about The Shining, Room 237; and, most importantly, one for the original version of Assault On Precinct 13.

Death Waltz really stepped up their game for the sleeves of these releases, they’re so thick and heavy that I had a hard time packing them when the time came to put my records in storage. The records themselves have some weight to them as well, and all are all pressed on gorgeous mutli-colored vinyl.

Sadly, though, I had some issues with my copies. While Room 237 (which comes with a CD as well) sounded perfect, my copies to both Assault and Ripper had major problems, with non-stop crackles and distortion on several tracks. I emailed Spence (the head of the label) about my problems and he swears that I just had bad luck and that most copies came out fine. He’s even going to send me some replacements once I get settled, so I’m liable to believe him. Still, if you got these, I’d test them out to make sure they sound good just to be sure.

 

Halloween Original Soundtrack – Mondo Tees Edition
Mondo_HalloweenLP_CoverFront

Well color me shocked. Mondo Tees, my least-favorite re-issue label on earth, finally seems to be getting their shit together with this release, although it still has a few problems.

The good stuff first. This is NOT a super-limited edition, you can go out and buy this in stores. They even went ahead and made a second printing just in case. Also, they made the orange colored vinyl random, meaning that you won’t know which version you get until you’ve already bought it and opened it up. This is great as it stops flippers and eBay assholes from buying them all up to sell at a high mark-up. Thirdly, and most importantly, it sounds great. Cut at 45RPM and spread across two LPs, I rarely heard a pop or crackle, and the fidelity sounds superb as well, far better than the shit Studio Ghibli release they put out a few months back.

However, this release is just a re-print of the 20th Anniversary CD that came out a few years ago, and while that sounds all fine and dandy, that CD is a big pile of hot garbage. Because instead of just including the complete score, most of it is just audio ripped straight from the movie, dialogue and all. I’m sure some people love that, but when I buy a soundtrack, I want to hear the music, not the actual movie. I don’t get it at all. It’s literally audio just ripped from the movie and put onto an LP. What’s the point?

So yeah, it’s an A+ release of a C- record…so, I guess I’ll give it a B for the average. Hopefully it’s a sign of more quality releases from the label though.

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