The happy news for record collecting fans of Paul McCartney is that the new double 180-gram vinyl, tri-fold "concertina" designed sleeve "strictly limited deluxe edition" version of Egypt Station is a great package overall. A very high quality presentation, the deep black vinyl pressings are quiet and perfectly centered. And the music fares very well in this format, even better than the CD (which sounds pretty darn good as CDs go). It even comes with a full color fold out lyric sheet (as well as a download card).
I am really quite pleased that the record label didn't cut corners this time around - some of you might remember that when Sir Paul's last album called New came out I experienced some issues with the vinyl edition's pressing quality (on a different label, by the way). I actually had reviewed that album (both the HDTracks download and eventual reissues) and touched on this in my review which you can read by clicking here; the issue was ultimately mostly rectified, but it was still disappointing at the time because the packaging was beautiful, an album marred by a slip-up in quality control. Thus far on this special edition package of Egypt Station, I have not seen or heard of any problems.
Favorite songs here are the charming, sparkling acoustic reflection on (likely) an old guitar, "Confidante." "People Want Peace" sounds terrific on this vinyl pressing, feeling almost like a lost Wings track. If "Dominoes" sounded great on the CD, here on the vinyl the the song comes alive, especially on details like Paul's Emitt Rhodes-esque backing vocals. "Do It Now" feels more epic with the big tom tom hits resonating and contrasting wonderfully against the 'doot doot' harmonies.
One of the most surprising tunes to have grown on me has a sort of cheesy title and some initially over earnest vocals: "Caesar Rock," a pun on the hook phrase "she's a rock." But the song shifts madly between raw raucous rock and deep Bohannon-cum-Talking-Heads funk grooves that just won't quit. It made me smile so much when I first heard it and my grin grows wider with each listen. I really hope Sir Paul plays this one live on the new tour and extend the jam on it because it's a scorcher -- on the album perhaps the only thing that disappoints is that it doesn't go on longer.
The presence of Paul's voice on "Despite Repeated Warnings" is much more natural sounding on the vinyl than the CD. On the CD, his voice feels almost like it has a heavier layer of phasing effect on it --- but that is probably just an anomaly side effect of the CD's inherent 16-bit. 44.1 kHz compression -- and there is much less sense of the studio vibe coming through the speakers. The kick drums and bass are more present and tighter on the vinyl pressing than the CD. Also, for what its worth, when listening to this vinyl version of Egypt Station it became clear to me that this song may have been inspired in part by Procol Harum's seafaring tale (from 1968), "A Salty Dog."
The album closing multi-part suite "Hunt You Down / Naked / C-Link" blooms like a red rose on the vinyl pressing. The guitar amplifier tones are much more audible here and the nifty cello riff is punchier here than on the CD. Curiously, the song seems to hold my attention better as an album closer, even with its slow bluesy end jam. This piece creates a mood and rocks mad good when it needs to, only bringing you back to earth as the train slows to a final stop.
I know some of you find this concept ridiculous, but I really like the way that the vinyl LP breaks out the songs over four sides into almost miniature song suites... And in this presentation the album makes even more sense as a conceptual "whistle stop" listen (each song is supposed to be a different station).
If you want a copy of this deluxe tri-fold Egypt Station on vinyl, you'll probably want to grab one sooner rather than later as, again, they say its a "strictly limited edition." There are multiple colored vinyl 140 gram editions out there (Barnes & Noble in red, Spotify in green) with a standard single-pocket styled sleeve. But this deluxe edition package is nicely done, clearly made with a lot of attention to detail. You can find the standard black vinyl version of Egypt Station on Amazon (click here) and there is a 180-gram deluxe "concertina" tri-fold cover versions (click here for that). And, if you want the 180-gram orange and blue colored vinyl version, it is available exclusively from Paul McCartney's website (click here for that)
Of course... There are already rumors of a super duper deluxe edition circling around the universe of Beatle people... So this story may not be over just yet. This train may takes us on another journey soon... so, stay tuned!