Aztec Camera – High Land, Hard Rain

Among guilty pleasure albums from the 1980s, Aztec Camera’s debut High Land, Hard Rain maintains a surprisingly regular appearance on my turntable. Over the years, my copy of the 1983 LP from Sire Records sustained a fair amount of needle time and admittedly, isn’t the pristine pressing it used to be. When listening, I took the lyrical advice of Aztec Camera’s song “We Could Send Letters” by closing my eyes and waiting until things got better. Finally, patience persevered! Domino Recordings obtained the original analog masters to create a 30th anniversary reissue on 180-gram vinyl.

Compared with the original LP, the album art appears identical, except for the not-so-surprising omission of the tagline “also available on cassette.” The new pressing replicates the track listing of the original LP. For those seeking bonus songs, be sure to check out the digital download enabled via the vinyl purchase or pick up the CD.

Most importantly, the sonics get a significant upgrade. Domino made a concerted effort to give the album the respect and long-overdue update it deserves. Roddy Frame’s vocals boast inherent passion, and the reverb is more apparent. The perceived room around the vocalist also seems larger. Acoustic guitars, the driving force of the album, retain their energetic and upfront placement, and are flanked by deep, tight, and supportive bass. No, cymbals and tambourines don’t have all the subtle ring and decay I hoped to hear, but are on par with earlier releases. Perhaps the original recordings didn’t allow much more detail to be retrieved without the introduction of unwanted artifacts.

For High Land, Hard Rain fans, this reissue is a must. If you are not yet a fan of Aztec Camera, the pressing provides a great opportunity to start.   –Rob Johnson

Domino, 180g LP