As we get closer to finishing our re-issue of X’s “Wild Gift” I feel like we are getting farther away from completion.
Tomorrow March 23) is the official street date for release of the album, and tonight it sits firmly stuck in production. Frustration is a word that gets thrown around a lot but I am feeling it right now.
When you take on a re-issue, there are so many things that can go wrong, and when you are dealing with a classic and respected piece of art, you want to remain as true or better to the original. The trick is to make it all happen behind the scenes so when folks buy the record and open the packaging look at it listen to it for the first time that their head just about blows off from the undertaking.
That’s what listening to records was like for me as a kid… a life changing experience that opened up a world that I didn’t know existed, artists sang about life’s experiences, dreams, politics, and their love and hopes. I want people that listen to this record to feel that experience and passion that makes the listener fall headlong into the music and revel in the experience.
But as I said earlier many things can get in the way of that happening, and it all has to be taken into account. This week we are battling the sonic gods and with a copy of the original Slash Records pressing in hand to compare to (which sounds pretty damn good) we are trying to exceed the results of 28 years ago. It makes you realize that the more technology we embrace in production the worse things seem to sound. The clarity and transparency we are seeking seems evasive but attainable and that is the main part of the battle. Knowing you are almost there… but not quite.
Artwork has been a real fight on this too, with no original film to draw from to recreate the jacket and sleeve we are left to our own devices… this includes tracking down the most pristine copies of the record that can be found and then scanning and painstakingly correcting every crease dent and scratch until it’s a dead knock off of the original. Even when we get that close we are still a ways apart because paper stock and ink have changed in the last 28 years as well.
Last week was spent doing test after test of color corrected prints of the outer sleeve, until we got it so close to the original that you really have to look for the difference. It looks amazing!
The wild card is the vendors, we use different ones for each piece of the package. Jackets, sleeves, labels and vinyl all come from different specialty producers who do that particular part the best and most cost effectively.
The issue there is because of an increased demand for vinyl they are all running at full capacity and we have to push our way to the front of the line to get things done. The pressing plant is now running 24/7 and I heard today that they are getting an order for 500,000 Beatles vinyl records. Our test pressing better be ready and approvable so we can get to the front of the line… if we have to wait until they run 500,000 albums this may come out at Christmas… not good!