Vinyl Corner : Janis Ian ‘Between The Lines’

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. This time we’re rating the first in a series of reissues of singer/songwriter Janis Ian’s ’70s output, continuing with her 1975 LP ‘Between The Lines’.

The Music:

A marked evolution and maturation over ‘Stars’, ‘Between The Lines’ is the second in the series of five Janis Ian reissues that were released at the end of May. Although hit single ‘At Seventeen’ is easily the best known title on the album, the whole record has a good amount to offer those who are fascinated by unmistakably ’70s singer/songwriter records. Arrangements are rather dated at times (especially as far as string parts go) but they’re well performed and the songs themselves are pacier and more engaging than the sometimes meandering compositions on ‘Stars’. Overall, ‘Between The Lines’ is perhaps Ian’s strongest effort, boasting a consistency not always present on her other efforts.

The Pressing:

Upon carefully slipping the record free of its inner sleeve, we did find that both sides bore some debris from the pressing plant, which had to be cleaned off with a carbon fibre brush before playing. No great issue as it came off fine but it may pose an issue to those without the means to safely remove the material (though, to be fair, carbon fibre brushes are so cheap that there’s little reason not to pick one up – they go for as little as £5 or £6 on eBay). Other than that minor qualm, however, this is a really solid pressing. As with so many new releases we’ve looked at of late, this is pressed at the ever-popular GZ Media in the Czech Republic and quality is in line with what you’d expect from the company. The record is heavy and well cut and appears visually solid with no obvious markings or scuffs from careless handling or dirty metal parts at the plant. Playback reveals itself to be generally clean with minimal surface noise audible on run-in and run-outs, and little more than the odd errant crackle elsewhere. Generally, then, sound is clean and fidelity is also commendable – both in terms of the remaster and the sonic properties of this pressing, which remain clear and undistorted. In terms of the remaster itself, the soundscape is generally solid throughout with a good degree of clarity and sense of instrumental separation which works well without feeling forced. Having said that, we did find a few tracks to be somewhat boomy and bass heavy but guitars have a winning chime to them and the drums are pleasingly crisp.

The Packaging:

Packaging and presentation is decent throughout. The labels look great and they’re well printed – the same goes for the cover and printed inner sleeve. The cover isn’t made from the heaviest of card and perhaps could have been a bit sturdier but it’s certainly workable and still looks good. The printed inner presents full lyrics as well as revised and updated credits. It’s definitely a welcome inclusion when it comes to an album so lyric-centric as this but we’ve got to say that as an actual inner sleeve, it’s not the best quality we’ve come across and we did have to remove the record from it very carefully to avoid surface marking. An MP3 download is included for digital needs, which is a bonus.

Final Thoughts:

The Sony/Legacy reissue of ‘Between the Lines’ sees the album come back into print for the first time in decades on vinyl. It’s a solid reissue throughout with a well pressed record and presentation that remains faithful to the original issue.