I wasn't sure how I was going to respond to the notion of breaking up one of my favorite single-disc albums of all time into a two LP set spinning at 45 RPM (for better fidelity)... but somehow it seems to work just fine. Breaking up Another Green World into little buckets of three and four songs works really well in the LP format. It gives you just enough time to settle in and enjoy the music before you have to get up and flip a side, giving you pause to really absorb what you've just heard.
I also wasn't sure what to expect from the half speed remastering as I've been through numerous pressings of Brian Eno's Another Green World over the years both on CD and LP and have frequently been disappointed, resolving myself to my stock late 70s domestic US Island Records (blue label) pressing (UK pressings are elusive over here in the states).
Well, the new half-speed audiophile reissue -- mastered by Miles Showell at Abbey Road Studios in England and pressed in Germany -- is quite lovely. If you are not familiar with Miles' work you should take a moment to read my reviews of The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper vinyl reissue which he did quite spectacularly (click here to jump to that and if you want more insight into the nuance behind the mastering process in general, click here for a more in-depth feature I wrote on the topic -- including exclusive interview commentary from him -- for our parent publication, Home Theater Review).
Oddly enough the improved fidelity afforded the recording with this new edition is only part of what is making this version of Another Green World magical for me. You see, on pretty much every LP pressing I've heard there has been a fair amount of distortion happening on tracks closer to the center of the record, even playing it on a high quality turntable (I use a Music Hall MMF 7.1 fitted with a Goldring 2400 cartridge). My original LP is clean but I think -- and this is just my speculation folks, not hard science -- the old LP mastering might have had some issues tracking this section of the recording as it got closer to the center of the disc.
On the new reissue that is no longer a problem as the cluster of songs including "The Big Ship," "I'll Come Running" and the title track get their own full side to spread out and bask in the audiophile sunshine. Those songs sound much cleaner overall -- much better than my old copy, that is for sure!
There is a really nice sense of the studio presence coming through in this pressing, especially noticeable at the start of the second disc, "Somber Reptiles." You can hear the pulsing of the vibraphone-like sounds more readily and the ambiance of the room in which the recordings were made.
Another nice bit of relief I experienced upon playing my copy of Another Green World is finding that the pressing was perfectly centered, dead quiet (180-gram) and also decidedly not warped. I make that latter point specifically because a friend of mine had to return many copies of his albums from this series which apparently initially came somewhat warped (he wasn't the only one). That hopefully has been rectified in subsequent pressings like mine. My only anomaly (if you can even call it that) has been a teensy tiny crackle of noise at the start of side four during "Zawinul/Lava" which wouldn't even be an issue on many recordings but since this is a particularly quiet treated piano piece, you do hear it for a few revolutions before it disappears. I can live with it and hopefully that bit of whatever is in the groove will work its way out as I break in the album with subsequent plays (i have had that happen before, actually).
Overall, this reissue sounds great! And, the package not only includes a free download but -- heh heh -- you also get a spiffy suitable-for-framing official certificate of authenticity about the mastering done on this project. It may sound silly to some reading this but I know others here will appreciate that sort of confirmation of the level of care that went into making these records -- especially in the face of so many releases where you do begin to wonder how in fact the albums were made.
Bravo Abbey Road and Universal Music for a job well done.