So my initial plan to do Biffy releases in order (and to catch up on the many non-Biffy releases I am yet to post) is going out of the window today because I received something amazing in the post this morning and my urge to write about it (on its release day, no less!) is too strong.
2012 marks the 10th anniversary of the first Biffy Clyro album, the magnificent Blackened Sky. It also marks the beginning of a series of repressings of the first 3 Biffy albums by Beggars Banquet, the band's old label. The question that presents itself, then, is whether this is a cash-in on the band's latter-day successes. Beggars definitely have a history of doing it (see: the "Singles" CD released around the time of Puzzle's success), but I think they deserve some credit here. The first pressing of the album goes for a pretty high price on ebay these days (a lot seem to go for upwards of £40) so there's certainly the demand for a repressing and, as you'll see, they haven't half-arsed it. They are definitely trying to milk the success a bit, but there's enough to this release to make it not feel like a rip-off. It wasn't very cheap, it must be said, but frankly I was always going to get it so I suppose it could have been worse.
Hnnng yes. I love the cover, it's a bit odd but very cool. Why the plastic figures are staring at the sky, I'll never know. Maybe they're listening to the start of Scary Mary. Who knows. I love the way the text sits at the bottom as well. This record also came in a thick PVC sleeve, which is always appreciated.
I think this is a pretty well-used gatefold. The two sides of this are, cleverly, the same as the two sides of the inner sleeve from the first pressing of this album. I really like the right side, where each line is a different lyric from the album.
And the back cover. 4 sides! Here, I can begin to explain why I think Beggars have done a pretty good job with this. The first record contains the whole of the album, while the second record consists of all of the B-sides from the album's singles (excluding a session version of Kill The Old) plus the two tracks from thekidswhopoptodaywillrocktomorrow (one of two EPs the band released prior to this album) that didn't make it onto Blackened Sky. I think this was a really good idea from Beggars, because it makes this release feel really well-rounded, and it's a good way for newer fans to hear everything from the Blackened Sky era in one fell swoop (and a convenient way to get hold of some of those old B-sides on vinyl, because those singles are getting expensiiiiiive). There's a slight error here, which sees "Time As An Imploding Unit" mis-typed as "Time As As Exploding Unit". It's not a big deal really, but it's an interesting tidbit.
YES. After a short period of no coloured vinyl on the blog, say hello to beautiful purple. An absolutely delightful shade, I think it compliments the artwork (and the lovely right side of the inside) nicely without being too similar to it. The purple isn't completely smooth either, there's a light marble effect which I've tried (and sort of succeeded) to capture in this next picture:
Nice, isn't it? Both records are also in black paper sleeves, which makes a pleasant change to the usual white.
Here comes the point where I'm meant to describe the album to you, but I don't know how well I can. Look, it's one of my favourite albums of all time. I'd go as far as saying it's one of the best debut albums I've ever heard. It does the whole "quiet-loud" thing pretty brilliantly, and it's got some of the best songs the band has ever written on it. There's not a song on it that I dislike, and that's saying something. I'm keeping this as brief as I can, because I know as soon as I start getting into detail I'll be writing forever. It's an album I hold dear to my heart, and it makes me happy when other people feel the same. The B-sides are also, I have to say, pretty consistently excellent. That Hope For An Angel wasn't on Blackened Sky is an absolute travesty, because it's a great song and I really feel it'd fit well on the album. My other personal favourite among the B-sides is Breatheher, a wonderful acoustic song that only gets better with every listen.
I'm really, really happy with this purchase. Beggars could have done a really simple, plain repressing of the album and still sold a fair amount, but there's clearly been a lot of thought put into this release. I'm excited to see what they do with The Vertigo of Bliss and Infinity Land (which hopefully will be released later this year), especially if they pick some more lovely colours for the vinyl.