May 21, 2012

Prince Perfection

For its very quiet 25th anniversary, WB/Rhino had Kevin Gray remaster Purple Rain at AcousTech specifically for a 180 gram audiophile vinyl release. Released in Feb 2009, the new vinyl master was cut by Kevin himself, and pressed at RTI. Plans were to reproduce the complete original packaging as a gatefold, but for whatever reason, the poster was dropped, as was the gatefold (too bad!).  While taking photos for this post, I opened a still-sealed original to find there were two versions of the inner sleeve from the original pressings: one has lyrics printed over lake water, a still taken from the film, and the other has an easier-to-read, but apparently less common, lyric sheet printed over a painting of pink rain (also used on singles and other artwork of the era). Rhino used the lake-water background for this reissue, which is a folded insert (the record is in a nice quality plastic sleeve).  Also not reproduced, is the original sticker that, at least to me, was the "cherry-on-top" of the original packaging.

Sales of the Purple Rain reissue must have made someone happy because two years later Bernie Grundman, who mastered them originally, received the original tapes of Dirty Mind, Controversy, and 1999, also specifically for 180 gram vinyl remasters. These were cut by Chris Bellman and also pressed at RTI.  Except for the original Dirty Mind and 1999 album stickers, packaging was faithfully reproduced, including the shower poster for Controversy.  Of the three, Dirty Mind most benefits from Bernie's 42 yrs mastering experience, making this album sound better than ever before.

When asked by a forum member about more titles being done, Bernie Grundman states "..further remasters/reissues are up to Rhino, but based on the positive feedback they're getting, it's a definite possibility."

All of these albums have been out of print on vinyl for over two decades. All are all-analog remasters from the original tapes.

As W.B. reissues go recently, these are all pretty pricey pressings with list prices of $25 for each single album, and $35 for 1999.  More recently they can be found discounted to $11.99 at Best Buy stores (1999 was $16.99).

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