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Beware the "Back to Black Vinyl" 180g "The Singles: 1969 - 1973!" LP!

Discussion in 'A Song For You: The Carpenters Forum' started by William Kucharski, Jul 31, 2014.

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  1. William Kucharski

    William Kucharski Member Thread Starter

    I anxiously preordered the recently released 180g pressing of "The Singles: 1969 - 1973," a part of Universal Music Group's "Back to Black Vinyl" reissue program. Having received it last week and finally having had a chance to listen to it, I feel completely and totally ripped off.

    In short, someone somewhere along the line seemingly used whatever master recordings for the songs they had lying around, perhaps from the "The Singles: 1969 - 1981" collection, to master this LP. It is not the "The Singles: 1969 - 1973" we all know and love:
    • The "(They Long to Be) Close to You" overture at the start of the album? Gone. The LP starts right into "We've Only Just Begun."
    • The musical interludes tying "Superstar," "Rainy Days and Mondays" and "Goodbye to Love" into one long song? Gone. In fact, each song fades out, is followed by a one second or so inter-song space, and the next song in sequence starts.
    It's as if someone at UMG thought "Hey, this is just a Greatest Hits album, and we've already got masters of each of these songs lying around, so there's no need to pull the master for that album for this. Let's just sequence them according to the album's track list and we're done!"

    I know that UMG is probably staffed by people who may have never heard the original album (or any of its releases over the years on LP, 8-track, cassette, CD, SHM-CD or SHM-SACD or even iTunes), but wow.

    (In addition, the pressing itself is a bit noisy, with more pops and clicks than I'm accustomed to in 180g pressings of late; really this would be a bit of a nit if the album had actually contained the content of the "The Singles: 1969 - 1973" album!)
    Jamesj75 likes this.
  2. Harry

    Harry Charter A&M Corner Member Moderator

    Thanks for the warnings William. I've updated our Recordings Resource with your information, since it's not the first I've heard the same story.

    I'm content with my original vinyl from all those years ago.

    Last edited: Jul 31, 2014
  3. GaryAlan

    GaryAlan Well-Known Member

    Welcome, William!
    And, much thanks for the information regarding this UMG release.
    As I have elsewhere detailed, the consternation which wells up in me regarding UMG's
    attention to Carpenters' products and marketing, is re-affirmed with your astute observations on this Vinyl release.
    Simply the wrong way to go, with The Singles 1969-1973 , one of the All-Time Classics in pop music History.
    Of course, there may be technical reasons regarding the entire LP (re)productions' flaws, but, then,
    why bother with an inferior product?
    Carpenters deserve TLC.
  4. William Kucharski

    William Kucharski Member Thread Starter

    Really, I'd call it borderline fraud. Even a LP release that was nothing more than a transcription of this year's Japanese SHM-SACD release would have been satisfactory.

    It's not unlike if Apple Corps decided future versions of The Beatles' Let it Be would actually contain the content of Let it Be… Naked.
  5. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    So are you talking about the 2014 vinyl release of Singles 69-73? The one that was announced around the time of the Japan SHM-SACD/CD/Platnm. If so wow, that is really bad news. I thought that this vinyl was going to follow the same mastering done on February 18 2014 with RC and Bernie G.

    I have the Original Singles 69-73 (actually 2) then I have the Audiophile pressing and then I have a Quad pressing LP's and they have served me well.
  6. William Kucharski

    William Kucharski Member Thread Starter

    Yes, the UMG "Back to Black Vinyl" version released just a few weeks ago.
  7. Chris May

    Chris May Resident 'Carpenterologist' Moderator

    Disappointed to learn that Richard and Bernie weren't a part of this. Missed opportunity for the label IMHO...
  8. William Kucharski

    William Kucharski Member Thread Starter

    I'm amazed UMG could do it without Richard's approval but I don't know how all the contracts work.
  9. Rudy

    Rudy ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ Site Admin

    In the runout area--does it show it was pressed by "gzrecords.com"? I've been at odds with Universal over a Dire Straits reissue that is in the same series. (Dire Straits is on Vertigo, a Universal label, over in Europe.) Total crap pressing. Noisy, of course, and it shows signs of mishandling. I'm planning a full-blown blog exposé on it once I'm done with a project I'm working on. A real shame, too, since Chris Bellman cut it at Grundman's studio and aside from the noise, it sounds excellent for being digitally sourced.

    In an earlier round of releases, they'd put out a handful of titles under the same Back To Black banner, and I unfortunately wound up buying a used copy of Zenyatta Mondatta by The Police. I have owned this in its original vinyl version, a Nautilus dbx-encoded LP, the first CD issue, the Message In A Box release and now the SACD version. I have never heard a duller LP in my life--the highs are muted, the dynamics are sort of flat and lifeless...terrible. A buddy of mine who bought this one and four others ended up playing a couple of the other LPs, and took them all back to Music Direct for a refund. The SACD reminds me a lot of my first LP copy of the album.

    There is no reason why this would have been cut with the incorrect tracks. The only way it would make sense is if they went back to the original two-track masters and cut it from those (which is impossible for vinyl unless you cut each song out of its master tape and assemble it into a compilation reel).

    I agree Universal has their heads up their collective asses with their vinyl series. They could eff up a one-car funeral.
  10. William Kucharski

    William Kucharski Member Thread Starter

    I'm serious when I say someone at UMG likely looked at the track list and decided "Hey, we've got masters for those songs here in-house already" rather than pull a master for the exact title, and it had to be someone unaware of the remixes on The Singles: 1969 - 1973. Anyone listening to this at any time would have known it was wrong; even the sample of the first track for the album on iTunes contains the tail end of the overture.

    The runout area states "www.gzvinyl.com," 5351089 - A and B and 1195OE1/A and 1195OE2/A.
  11. Rudy

    Rudy ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ Site Admin

    Ahh yes...gzvinyl.com, that's it. Same culprits that ruined On Every Street.

    Who knows? Universal could have pulled out CDs and slapped together a running order from the assorted tracks.

    Aside from the noise and being all the wrong tracks, does it sound any good?
  12. Rudy

    Rudy ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ Site Admin

    BTW, I don't mind making noise about Universal here. The one or two who have visited won't take it personally--with the company being so big, the decision to cut corners and use a cheap pressing plant, or anything else, is in a completely different department. Still, if we don't raise a stink, others will get burned.

    I hope EMI learned the hard way that releasing Beatles vinyl pressed by Rainbo was a huge mistake; the EU versions put them to shame. There was enough bad press that for awhile, Amazon in Canada was shipping EU sets rather than the US sets. I bought only two of those Rainbo-pressed drink coasters and then gave up. "Eleanor Rigby" is actually scratched by the manufacturer, and "I Want To Tell You" actually has a skip in it. Sad, huh?
  13. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member


    Wow, that is a shame and wasn't this pretty expensive? Amazon is showing this 2014 LP for $40.00.....can you get a refund?

    I know it sucks to be the tester but thanks for alerting all of us about this LP.
  14. William Kucharski

    William Kucharski Member Thread Starter

    It sounds pretty good and for anyone who just wants these tracks on vinyl, it's not a bad choice; it's just not The Singles: 1969 - 1973.
  15. William Kucharski

    William Kucharski Member Thread Starter

    I bought mine through a different vendor for $37.99, and no, I don't believe so. :sad:
  16. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    I would be really upset...yeah it might sound great but to me if it's not the Singles 69-73 including all the proper sequencing then it would just feel like they tampered with something they should not have messed with. How could they mess something like that up?
  17. William Kucharski

    William Kucharski Member Thread Starter

    It's trivially easy; some bean counter probably figured they were saving the cost of pulling the masters for the album itself from the vaults.

    On the good news front, I called my merchant and they are willing to let me make a "one time return" as most merchants will not allow the return of open vinyl at all, and many won't accept the return of any vinyl.

    (Record companies will allow the return of unsold CDs for credit, but do not allow the return of vinyl for any reason, I've heard not even for defects but certainly not for content or product quality reasons.)
  18. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    That's good news for you on the return, out of curiosity did the LP come with the booklet inside and the original promo stickers?

    I can't believe they went to the expense of cutting this on 180 gram only to mess up the mastering of the tracks. :shrug:
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2014
  19. William Kucharski

    William Kucharski Member Thread Starter

    Neither booklet nor any stickers - just the vinyl in a cruddy white paper sleeve (not even plastic lined) and a small slip of paper with a code that allows you to download the tracks as MP3s.

    I didn't download them so I've no idea if the downloads were the proper tracks or not.

    Here's the web page for this release:


    I love how their "photo" of the album itself is a mockup with the appropriate label, as note no band separators are visible:


    the other photos show everything you get with this release except the MP3 download code insert sheet.

    Note they technically didn't mess up the mastering of the tracks; they did a rather good job of mastering the wrong versions.
  20. Rick-An Ordinary Fool

    Rick-An Ordinary Fool Well-Known Member

    No booklet, No promo stickers? Wrong Versions? Highway Robbery!!! This sounds like a bootleg to me. :laugh:
  21. William Kucharski

    William Kucharski Member Thread Starter

    If only; instead this shows how much respect UMG has for their artists and their fans. ("They'll buy anything!")
  22. Rudy

    Rudy ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ Site Admin

    More like, "the hipsters are buying vinyl, the kids are buying vinyl, the old folks are buying vinyl...let's put some cheaply produced vinyl reissues out there and cash in!"

    Money grab. :agree:

    Thing is, with not much more effort or cost, they could have done a deluxe job on this release, including the booklet. The Led Zeppelin reissues are pretty much true to form--Led Zep III has a reproduction of the original gatefold jacket with the farmer's crop wheel (completely functional) just like the originals.

    The Dire Straits album is actually part of a set Vertigo released of all of their albums. This On Every Street album is spread across two LPs, and the records are in paperboard sleeves with the lyrics. One flaw is that the sleeves fit the records a little too snugly--I had to put on some white cotton gloves (which, strangely enough, shipped with my turntable) and physically pull the records out. They are now in anti-static sleeves. But still, the packaging is nice, the sound is wonderful...but the piss poor pressing by GZVinyl completely ruins it.

    Shameful job by Universal. Absolutely shameful.
  23. William Kucharski

    William Kucharski Member Thread Starter

    The most ironic thing is by going with poor pressings, they'll remind people who got out of vinyl why they did in the first place, and effectively kill the resurgence.

    Insert a conspiracy theory about that here. :D

    (For the youngsters, please don't judge vinyl by what you hear from GZ or Nashville's URP; listen to something coming from QRP or to one of Mobile Fidelity's Original Master Recording Series albums sometime… or for that matter an original 1973 pressing of this album.)
  24. Rudy

    Rudy ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ Site Admin

    Skip Rainbo while you're at it. :laugh: What they did to the Beatles US vinyl was atrocious.

    I've had a few flawed pressings from the other plants, but they have been the exception, not the rule. My Led Zep Mothership box was an interesting case--the vinyl looked dirty, yet they play back with hardly a tick or pop; RTI pressed these. RTI also pressed the Nat King Cole Just One Of Those Things, and I don't know if it's the cutting or the pressing, but there is a lot of sibilance on that record. And I'm not the only one who's complained about it. That one was on the short-lived S&P Records label.

    The Elvis 24 Karat Hits done by Analogue Productions sounds fantastic, but it took me two sets to get a full set of 3 LPs that wasn't off-center. Quality did that one. I've had variable luck with Pallas: my 45RPM Rumours is warped and noisy (and was a gift, so I couldn't easily return it), yet Pat Metheny's Orchestrion is nice and quiet. I think Pallas might also have done the Pat Metheny Kin and I'm sad to say that one is a bit noisy also. (Although a buddy has this same LP set, and his is quiet.)

    I'll take a chance on anything, but once I get a string of bad products like I did with Rainbo and GZ, I'll avoid anything they do in the future until I hear of improvements.
  25. ThaFunkyFakeTation

    ThaFunkyFakeTation Ah am so steel een luv weeth yoo

    The hipster kids aren't buying vinyl to listen to it. They buy it because the pictures are bigger, darn it. It's the big-ness of it that's in fashion. That's how the Scorpio stuff along with all the poor digitally-sourced vinyl sells.

    Thanks for the info about "Singles." I already have it twice over so I had no intention of buying yet another but, undoubtedly, it had crossed the mind of someone's here. Thanks to you, they've been warned.

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