Vinyl Corner is a feature where we take a look at vinyl pressings of various albums and weigh them up to see just how good they sound, how well they’re pressed and what sort of packaging to expect – as well as giving a brief overview of the music itself.
Back in June of last year, we covered wewantsounds’ reissue of Akiko Yano’s 1978 outing ‘Iroha Ni Konpeitou’. That album was a bouncy, upbeat selection of cuts and the third in an ongoing series of Yano reissues from wewantsounds. In the intervening eight months we’ve written about quite a number more of their reissues – most of which have been Japanese rarities – and we’ve been consistently impressed with the quality of their output. Now back with another Yano reissue, this time 1980’s ambitious ‘Gohan Ga Dekitayo’, the label have once again done themselves proud. Her fourth mainline album, ‘Gohan…’ is the work of a fast-maturing artist. An ambitious 75 minute double album, this is as eclectic and unique as it expansive and sprawling. Synth-pop legends Yellow Magic Orchestra appear here as Yano‘s backing band, complementing her expressive, soulful vocal work with an array of ingeniously diverse sounds, both typical of their own work and more unique to hers. This could well be the best Yano album wewantsounds have yet to reissue and, moreover, it might even be her best overall. Despite its length, it’s a consistently engaging listen – not least for the sheer scope of its ambition and diversity of execution. For lovers of semi-genreless experimental pop, this is damn-near essential.
As with previous wewantsounds reissues, their rerelease of ‘Gohan Ga Dekitayo’ – the first ever outside of Nippon – is a commendably faithful reproduction of the original release. The LPs have been pressed by the Czech Republic’s GZ Media – the largest pressing plant in the world. Their output is largely solid but they’re not the most consistent manufacturer currently active and their work can sometimes suffer from audible and intrusive surface noise. Even with that noted, previous wewantsounds reissues have been of such high quality that ‘Gohan Ga Dekitayo’s quality is unsurprising. The label clearly paid attention during the test-pressing process as both LPs sound excellent, with clean surfaces bearing only a few very rare and minor background crackles now and then. We didn’t pick up on any notable issues during any of the four sides and the noise floor is also very low. Freshly remastered for this reissue, the sonics are generally excellent; Yano‘s piano pops with a bright, urgent immediacy and the drums feel punchy and realistic. There were a few points where some minor sibilance could be heard on the vocals, but this was neither intrusively audible nor common. The records are roughly mid-weight; they’re not a full 180 grams but they do still feel solid in hand and they sit flat upon the platter, spinning free of warpage during playback.
One of wewantsounds’ great strengths as a label is their dogmatic adherence to the aesthetic of the original releases they reissue. This is as obvious with ‘Gohan Ga Dekitayo’ as any of their other releases. Both the cover and labels are faithful to the scarce and collectable 1980 original release, giving modern audiences a chance to acquire something that feels much like a mint 1st press without shelling out considerable cash. Naturally there are a few differences – a copyright credit here, a catalogue number there – but, by and large, this does feel commendably faithful to the layout and design of the vintage Japanese release. The classy, distinctive labels are present and correct – appearing just as slick and eye-catching as they must have been back in the ’80s – as is the original artwork and gatefold sleeve layout. The image and print quality is excellent throughout; the colours are realistic and both text and photography is sharp and well-defined. It’s not uncommon for some modern reissues to suffer from inferior quality art compared to original pressings, but here the print quality is beyond reproach. The cardstock used to produce the cover is also impressive; though not the absolute heaviest-weight card type available, the sleeve does feel substantial and solid in hand. The inclusion of a fold-out four page lyrics and credits insert is also a welcome addition. Though the bulk of ‘Gohan Ga Dekitayo’ is sung in Japanese, there are a few tracks written in English and the lyrics have been reproduced solely in the language in which they were sung. Considering this is a reissue by a Western label primarily for the Western market, it would have been a very welcome bonus to see the Japanese-language songs translated into English on the lyric sheet (and vice-versa for the English-language songs, of course) but the inclusion of such a high-quality insert in the first place is very pleasing nonetheless.
Fans of the previous wewantsounds Akiko Yano reissues are in for a treat with ‘Gohan Ga Dekitayo’. This is one of her strongest, most ambitious works and the label have stepped up to that benchmark with one of the best reissues they’ve ever produced. Impressive playback, tidy sonics and attractive, high-quality presentation combine to make this a highly commendable reissue.
Enjoyed this feature? We’re always looking for further albums to highlight on Vinyl Corner – and if you have a vinyl release that you’d love to see written about here, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org – it would be great to hear from you!