Jeff Buckley only released one album in his life time. But that one album, Grace, is a gem that inspired and influenced a generation of musicians and music fans alike. Targeted as Columbia Records' 'next Springsteen/Dylan' potential superstar, the label supported Jeff's growth with ever-growing concert tours and the release of that one album which remains to this day one of the most stellar debuts this side of spectacular firsts by Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello.
Unfortunately, the album was only released on CD here in America back in the day and thus we only got to hear a portion of what was on that stunning release. That is, until 2010 when Sony Music Entertainment put out a lovely 180-gram LP version pressed at RTI, one of the most revered of modern day record pressing plants. That issue is a great release that remains for now pretty much the definitive version of the album for most of us (I still want to hear this album remixed into 5.1 surround!). Of course, there is also an uber audiophile two-disc version on 180-gram vinyl spinning at 45 RPM, mastered by Bernie Grundman (also pressed at RTI) ; I have not yet heard that edition, but I would imagine it too would sound fairly tremendous if you have the right gear to appreciate the additional nuance and detail.
That said, it may seem kind of odd that I'm here reviewing a lowly (if you will, at least in audiophile circles) colored vinyl 20th Anniversary limited edition version.
But here we are... and here we go...
You see, several weeks ago while traveling back on the East Coast visiting relatives and friends, I was scoping out various and sundry record stores and thrift shops in search of suburban vinyl treasures. Using a handy dandy app called The Vinyl District (free via the iTunes Store), I scoped out stores around Connecticut at one point and was surprised to see Newbury Comics listed -- I didn't realize they were a chain. Curious, I poked into their website and was thrilled to see a limited edition run they were offering of Jeff Buckley's Grace on lilac swirl vinyl. Only 2,000 copies were pressed. So, right there on the side of the road in my rental car without giving it a second thought -- in a classic impulse buy -- I ordered my copies (limit was 2 per person).
By the time I got home two weeks later, the albums were waiting at my apartment door!
So, how does it sound, you ask?
First off, its important to acknowledge that Grace was always a great sounding album even on CD and the RTI pressing sounded spectacular. So, any variations between pressings are going to be fairly subtle unless something stupid was done at the LP disc manufacturing stage.
That said, this version on gorgeous lilac swirl colored vinyl indeed has an ever so slightly different sound. The new pressing is pretty much dead quiet (despite what people often say about colored vinyl it can sound just fine, thank you). The vinyl is thick and perfectly centered. The album comes in a nice protective inner sleeve and has the same inserts as the prior release on black vinyl. The covers are made of the same thick oaktag as the earlier issue well but include a unique gold-foil-embossed number for each copy in the run (I got numbers 1591 and 1592).
It sounds pretty great overall! You can hear Jeff's guitar pick scratching across the strings on "Last Goodbye" and Matt Johnson's drums are huge throughout out the album. This album always rocked rather righteously!