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. Following on from our last feature, we’re reviewing the second of two reissues focusing on the work of cult French library artist Yan Tregger.
Those who read Saturday’s review of Yan Tregger’s ‘Catchy’ will have some idea of what to expect from that album’s follow-up ‘Ducks & Drakes’, released a year later in 1979. Groove heavy, disco-tinged funk, this is infectious stuff that you’d have to be lacking a pulse to not enjoy even a little. Tregger’s work as a library music composer throughout the ’70s and into the ’80s is enough by itself to ensure that his work is both unknown to many but highly sought-after by those in that special club who are aware of his work. As is par-for-the-course with library albums, most of his records were not available to the general public and were instead distributed with the intention of selling the songs contained therein to TV and film companies for use in their soundtracks. Another common trait of library albums found on both of Tregger’s albums up for reissue is the fact that musician credits are in short-supply here, which is a shame considering the quality of the playing on the album. Even if the personal is shrouded in mystery, one thing is very clear: ‘Ducks & Drakes’ is an album performed with style, panache and an almost workman-like professionalism (lest we forget that for the session musicians used to create such albums, this was their literal day-job). The musicianship is top-notch, then, but what of Tregger’s compositional skills? Put it this way: he most definitely does not waste the talent on display. As is vital with any great disco groove, the percussion is steadfast yet fluid throughout; congas make for a subtle but effective addition on certain cuts, and the drums are as well recorded as they are played. Funky rhythm guitar parts pull at the lead like an excitable puppy, full of energy but managing to remain sharp and on-point. Bass grooves and subtle, tasteful keys fill out the sound to result in a selection of exemplary funky disco pieces well-deserving of their status as objects of salivation for collectors the world over.
We’ve reviewed quite a few reissues from BBE Records on Vinyl Corner over the last few weeks, and we’ve been highly impressed by all of them. When their reissue of Tregger’s ‘Catchy’ impressed so much, it should come as little surprise that ‘Ducks & Drakes’ makes for a comparably satisfying experience on vinyl. Germany’s Pallas have once again been called upon for pressing duties and, as per usual, their work is commendable here. The noise floor is minimal and playback is extremely clean, with sound entirely free of irritations such as popping or clicks. Sound is also almost entirely clear of minor surface noise or crackle, and remains quiet and tidy even during the silences between songs. Fidelity is superlative throughout, and it’s clear from even a cursory listen that pains have been taken to ensure the sonics and fidelity on this reissue are very high quality. There’s a real clarity and definition to the overall soundscape here. While that’s no doubt thanks in part to the high quality of the original engineering and production, respect has to be paid to BBE for managing to keep the quality so high on the reissue as well.
When we wrote about the BBE reissue of the ‘Ducks & Drakes’ companion album ‘Catchy’, we observed just how well presented it was. Far from surprisingly, ‘Ducks & Drakes’ does not let the guard down, once again replicating the presentation of the original issue very well, in addition to complementing it with a new gatefold sleeve layout and fresh reissue-exclusive liner notes. As with ‘Catchy’, ‘Ducks & Drakes’ boasts eye-catching, vibrant cover art and this BBE reissue reproduces it well, with lovely, strong blues and sharp print quality. The inner gatefold spread is also a welcome addition to the presentation, with one panel given over to fresh liner notes and the other featuring rare images of Tregger throughout his career. The spine is also excellent here – pleasingly chunky, the text is bold and really pops out. As is also the case with ‘Catchy’, the labels on this reissue look great and are about as similar to those of the originals as can be, and they look great.
This is another winner from BBE. Those with an affinity for late ’70s Euro-funk, disco and futuristic synth-jams will surely find a lot to love here, and this reissue serves listeners both new and old very well indeed. Pressing quality is unsurprisingly fantastic considering those involved, and presentation is really very solid throughout.
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!