Vinyl

Supertramp – Breakfast In America

Universal has finally given Breakfast In America the special treatment it deserves via a deluxe version that contains analog and digital remasters of the original album plus a slipcase of goodies, to boot. You get the album on 180g vinyl plus CD; a second CD that features live tracks from 1979 and which are presented in an intimate, splendidly raw manner; and a DVD that features videos of singles from the album and rare footage broadcast on the classic, late-night UK cult-music show The Old Grey Whistle Test. Finally, there’s a 60-page hardback book replete with interviews, photographs, lyrics, poster, replica concert ticket, patch, and program.

The whole lot is stuffed within a hard slipcase cover; what’s more, the vinyl and CDs are contained in a separate, heavy-gauge gatefold cover. Compared to the original pressing, the cover art is vastly improved with a clearer, more vivid series of colors and slightly more space afforded to the band’s name at the top. The photo of the band on the back cover is also brought into better focus.

I compared the new remaster to the 1979 original. From the first few seconds of the opening track, “Gone Hollywood,” the remaster revealed a more sumptuous presentation. Universal’s reissue is much more relaxed, and sounds suitably matured. Framed by an absolutely enormous soundstage, every instrument and vocal is surrounded by so much air that you might be prompted to reach for a coat and scarf. Bass has been lifted and fattened, while previously over-sibilant passages are eradicated with a midrange and treble blend that’s now appreciably extended. The latter effect is ably shown off during the first minute of “Take The Long Way Home,” on which the lower-frequency range of the featured piano exhibits real power and the accompanying harp displays startling dynamics.

The digital version also wows. In this era of overly compressed and/or excessively peak-limited CDs, it was a joy to hear a quieter mix that allows natural volume levels to reveal new details. Nothing less than a party in a box. –Paul Rigby

A&M, 180g LP + 2CD + DVD Box Set

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