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. We’re taking a trip back in time to 1999
for today’s Vinyl Corner, looking at a new expanded reissue of ‘Weather
Underground’, the second album by alt-rockers Geneva.
Geneva are a band who sound as though they could have been huge. Signed to Nude Records in the mid ’90s, their accessible, poppy vision of alt rock hinges on frontman Andrew Montgomery’s rich falsetto. Label mates with Suede, Geneva’s songs sit well within the zeitgeist of late ’90s British indie pop and on this, the second of their two albums, their melancholic yet quietly anthemic songs sound as though they were likely influential on early Coldplay. Though mainstream fame seems to have eluded them, there’s certainly much here for those who like their ’90s Brit-pop at the softer, more understated end of the spectrum.
To mark ‘Weather Underground’s 20th anniversary, British indie stalwarts One Little Indian have reissued the album in expanded deluxe form. It received a limited initial pressing of only 1000 copies upon its original release and in subsequent years the aftermarket price has grown. The format of the original release was rather unorthodox – it was pressed over two 10″ discs. Such a configuration is not unheard of but it is also somewhat unusual and ultimately serves as an inconvenient novelty, offering nothing of benefit that a normal 12″ LP lacks. Fortunately, One Little Indian have taken the wise decision to reissue this as a conventional LP, expanding the album to double LP status. The original album is spread over the first disc, while the second offers a selection of rarities, B-sides and remixes. Topping off this admirably thorough collection is a 7″ single containing four previously unreleased pieces. All three discs have been pressed by Germany’s ever-popular Optimal Media GmbH – one of the most prolific pressing plants in the world. Their output can, at times, be patchy however playback is very tidy here. The noise floor is low across all discs and surfaces are clean, bearing only a few intermittent and unobtrusive crackles. The discs are all good and weighty and the mastering is appropriately sensitive for this dynamic, often subdued music.
Erring on the side of minimalism with the presentation of this reissue, the album’s original artwork has been swapped out for a new look. This may prove divisive amongst those who have long-term familiarity with the album, but the lime green colour-scheme is certainly vivid. Regardless of position on the redesigned art, one point of criticism would lie in the barcode printed on the back cover. It rather sullies the otherwise clean presentation and would have been better placed on a hype sticker. The cover itself is a single-pocket, wide-spine design. It would have been preferable had it been presented in a gatefold sleeve due to the double LP configuration and the fact that cardstock used is not the heaviest we’ve ever seen. The print quality is excellent, however, and the colours are very vibrant. The records are presented in high quality and full-colour printed card inner sleeves, which add a welcome layer to the presentation on this reissue. The minimalistic art direction is continued across these; arguably they’re not put to enough use and full lyrics would have been a welcome addition. Even so, the cardstock used is of a good quality and the custom-printed die cut inner sleeve for the single is a pleasing addition. Label designs are a strong point of the presentation on this release. Rather than messing around with fancy artwork that offers little actual information, as so many modern releases do, they instead keep things simple by offering basic information such as tracklisting – which is refreshing in itself.
‘Weather Underground’ may not have made Geneva a household name, but fans of late ’90s alt-rock are likely to find much to enjoy here. This is the kind of sumptuous, exhaustive reissue that many far better-known albums are deprived of, so hats off to One Little Indian for taking the time to do this reissue right.
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