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. As part three of our ongoing look at the recently released series of Janis Ian reissues, we tackle her 1975 effort ‘Aftertones’.
Largely continuing in the same vein as her previous efforts, ‘Aftertones’ is the third of five Janis Ian albums which were reissued last month and it finds the songwriter broaching broadly the same topics as her previous couple of albums. There’s heartbreak a-plenty here but if the album is occasionally a tad maudlin then Ian verbalises her feelings with a natural ease which makes the album nonetheless rewarding. As is symptomatic of so many singer-songwriter records from that era, arrangements rarely treat the songs subtly – but there’s no denying that layers of tense strings adding nothing if not some dramatic tension, even if they do come off as over-wrought at times. Those who enjoy ‘Aftertones’ more famous predecessor ‘Between The Lines’ will get a lot from this effort too – although the album doesn’t quite pack the same punch as its predecessor, it still delivers plenty of well written, impassioned songs.
If you’ve read our previous Janis Ian Vinyl Corner features, you’ll likely know what to expect here: as with the rest of the series, GZ Media have pressed this reissue and they’ve done a really solid job. The record is very well pressed indeed; it feels, by our estimate, like a full-on 180gs, but however much it weighs, there’s no denying it’s a very sturdy piece of wax. We found that ‘Aftertones’ did have a fair amount of paper dust and general debris on the playing surface when removed from the printed inner sleeve, which was an issue with one of the other Janis Ian reissues as well. However, we had no issue in removing this and playback was unaffected once it had been cleaned but it’s worth nothing. Speaking of sound quality – it’s very good. Our copy has a tiny edge wobble which reveals itself upon spinning but it causes no sound problems at all and the actual playback quality is really solid. The noise floor is very minimal and playback is free of disconcerting pops, clicks and the like. The remaster is solid and buffs the album up nicely; although we haven’t heard an original pressing to compare this with but on its own merits the sound on this reissue is good.
Again, packaging is very much in line with the other reissues that we’ve looked at so far in this Janis Ian series. The sleeve is a decent quality single pocket affair constructed from standard-gauge cardboard. It’s entirely respectable but certainly not notably high quality; having said that, print quality is fine throughout, the spine is decent enough (font is a tad small, but still legible). The inclusion of a replica printed inner sleeve is always a welcome one and here it boasts lyrics for the whole album, as well as the usual associated credits. As an aesthetic addition to the overall presentation, it’s a definite plus – as a functional inner sleeve, less so. Rather than being printed on card stock it’s actually more like fairly thick smooth paper, which does lend the inner sleeve the unfortunate property of clinging to the record when it’s removed. Careless removal will likely result in abrasion marks and, as careful removal can be a laborious process, we’d simply suggest storing it in a polylined inner for ease of access and retaining optimal condition. Nevertheless, it’s a nice bonus and definitely goes a long way to make this feel more like an authentic reproduction of an original pressing (just without the associated decades of wear and tear). On the topic of authenticity, the label also accurately reproduces the original US Colombia labels and they do a good job of this, managing to reproduce the correct tone and colour more accurately than some modern reproductions of vintage labels that we’ve seen.
As with the rest of the Janis Ian reissues we’ve looked at so far, this is a really good option when it comes to hearing the album on vinyl and definitely presents a quicker alternative to the option of hunting down a similarly clean original pressing, few of which are likely to still exist at this point.