Friday, 30 August 2013

Japanese Papersleeve Mini LP Box Sets

For anyone who actually reads this blog and actually looks forward to updates my apologies. I have a host of things I would love to gag on about, but my time has been taken up with on-going issues regarding my wife's progressive MS. So for now here is a bit about Japanese papersleeve editions.

The Japanese have been producing papersleeve editions, faithfully reproducing the original vinyl album since the early 90's. I think the first were the first three albums by ELP. When I say faithfully reproduce, I do mean that. They do go to inordinate lengths to produce mini versions of the original 12" LP, from gatefolds, inserts, die-cuts right down to the correct type of card use. How they source these materials is beyond me.

The companies who release these editions make great claims about the audiophile sound of the discs and have gone to great lengths to sell them on the back of fancy mastering and disc materials. Hence why you see terms like, K2, K2 20 bit, K2 24 bit, K2HD, SHM, HQCD and blu-spec. A good marketing ploy, but do they sound any better than the standard CD? Well, the arguments for and against rage long and hard over many music forums. My personal experience has been pretty good on the whole. But this blog is really a quick look at some of my mini LP box sets. A few of these boxes were produced by the Disk Union label as promo boxes for papersleeve issues. They are legitimate and are very sturdy, high quality boxes.

The above photo shows from the top, the Tangerine Dream box which I mentioned in the previous post. Next to that are the two Steve Hillage boxes, which house his back catalogue when it was remastered a few years back. Next to them is the box of the three UK releases. I am not sure if this has been remastered for these editions, but they do sound very good, better than the EG editions and have lyrics too in the insert sheets. Lastly, on the top is a box of the Charisma Brand X albums. Again I am not sure on the remastering of these, but they too sound far superior to the existing Virgin CD's.

The bottom row is the Led Zeppelin box set. Not the SHM release, but the one produced for the western market. It is Japanese, but has no inserts. Though it is claimed to be based on the existing Jimmy Page/George Marino masters this box sounds really good. The best I have heard for the Zeppelin catalogue. Maybe it's down to the discs, but listening to The Ocean for instance, from Houses of the Holy the distortion which is so noticeable on this is almost gone. Next box, is the mammoth VdGG catalogue reissue, which is actually three boxes in one. Beautiful reproduction of all the sleeves on this. Next, is a personal favourite from last year. I do love Kenso, one of Japan's best prog bands. This box set of all their studio and live albums, which I need to talk about in more detail is a wonder to behold. Great book included too. Shame it's all in Japanese!! Then there is the box of Steve Hackett's remastered first four studio albums and lastly, a bit of an anomaly maybe is the box set of This Mortal Coils three studio albums, plus rarities disc. I loved 4AD back in the 80's and label boss Ivo Watts-Russell's studio project were an aesthetic delight.

Thats it then for now. More on Japanese mini LP's to come.


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