Unbiased reviews of new vinyl releases, audiophile reissues, and more

Friday, January 30, 2009

Van Halen: S/T 180 gram vinyl --Audiophile Alert!


Ever wish you had a time-machine so you could go back in time and buy the records you failed to buy that are now out of print and go for big bucks?

As part of their ongoing vinyl reissue series, Warner/Rhino on Tuesday quietly released Van Halen's groundbreaking self-titled 1978 debut record on 180 gram vinyl. Advance promotion had credited Kevin Gray as the remastering engineer for the project, yet much to the surprise of those few who have now opened a copy, Gray's initials, "KG" are not the only ones scribbled into the deadwax. Instead, "KG/SH" can be clearly read. SH are the initials of Steve Hoffman, mastering engineer for the now defunct audiophile label DCC (Dunhill Compact Classics), who was also involved in this mastering. And if one looks further, LPZ-2066, the catalog number of the DCC release of Van Halen, can also be found. That's right, rather than remastering this title again, Warner/Rhino was somehow able to secure the rights to the DCC master and again press copies of what is undoubtedly the definitive pressing of this record.

Originally released in 1998 and out of print shortly thereafter, DCC vinyl copies of Van Halen have been highly sought after by collectors for years and sealed copies have consistently sold for over $100. Now is your chance to get the exact same version for $25. The 180 gram vinyl arrived perfectly flat with a clean glossy sheen and played with no noise to speak of. The cover was nicely reproduced and a copy of the original inner sleeve is included along with a premium poly inner sleeve to house the record.

As for the sound, there is good reason why this record has remained so highly sought after. I compared it to my original WB Palm Tree label copy and the reissue was significantly better in every way. Where the original pressing is bass-shy, the reissue conveys the low notes with authority, right down to the opening thump in Runnin' With the Devil. While the vocals on the original pressing seem distant and shrouded in echo, David Lee Roth's voice is much more upfront and powerful on the reissue. Finally, the full sonic assault of Eddie Van Halen's guitar is represented much more clearly without the veil of echo heard on the original.

If you think I sound enthusiastic about this release, I am. Don't miss your chance to once again have the definitive version of this classic record. Very highly recommended.


HiRize said...

this was the first 'rock' album I bought in the early 80's (at the time I was almost exclusvely into R&B). I can't wait to have this in my new vinyl collection, thanks for reviewing!

Jon said...

Actually, this is not the exact same master as the DCC, but a completely new mastering job done specifically for this vinyl release, using the original analog masters. And it does sound amazing. I highly recommend it.

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