One of my favorite albums of all time gets represented today for Vinyl Wednesday. While I may be mostly known as a guy who listens to metal/rock I actually listened to this album yesterday as I walked to/from the grocery store. This album has an almost permanent status in my rotation and when I found this release at a local record shop I scooped it up without hesitation.
Before I get too far into the images and whatnot let me point out that this is not an original release of the album. This is a 2014 import version from the Netherlands. There really isn’t a lot of information out there available for this pressing other than there are 1,000 copies pressed on clear vinyl. I can’t even find reliable information about the version that I own as it’s not on clear vinyl. Most of the info I contained is from my own observations, research and scouring a bunch of shady vinyl sales sites.
The first thing I saw when browsing the racks at Dave’s Records was the top of the Bone Thugs logo. I immediately knew that this was what I was looking for. I grabbed that sumbitch out of the rack and threw it up on the counter. Only after I left the store did I realize that the image on the front is not exactly “correct.” The background of the image seems to be mostly correct and intact from the original but the group shot of the guys is not even close to being the same. Let’s break it down a bit. First, looking closely at the background it appears all the little details and stuff are there but you can also see some halftone patterns emerging. This leads me to believe that the people behind this pressing didn’t have the original artwork and had to resort to a high-resolution scan of a 1995 pressing. It’s not terrible looking and it’s something that’s done a lot for imports and reissues, especially when the original artwork files have been lost or destroyed. Second, the image of the group is clearly not from 1995. The clothes and jewelry are all obviously modern. Whatever. It closely mimics the original photo enough for this case. The photo they used is actually from the 2013 BET Hip Hop Awards. I’m not exactly sure why they would change the artwork in this way but it is what it is.
The back of the jacket has it’s own set of whacked-out changes. The original background image was a lot of white, transparent skulls and a gold color behind it all. For this release they clearly knew what the artwork should be and they imitated it in their own simplistic way. Nothing terrible but it’s definitely not the same. The text also has it’s own changes. The original used an “American Typewriter”-style font for the song titles with a blue/green duplicate of the titles behind the black lettering. It had a sort of 1950’s cheesy 3D effect to it and it wouldn’t be that hard to duplicate. Once again these designers tried to do something similar but it just isn’t the same. Other elements that were included are the “Eric Wright RIP” graphic and the “Executive Producer” text. Each of these parts are similar to the original pressing but not quite the same. They didn’t even bother to include any liner notes on the jacket for this release.
There is one thing that does really bother me with this release. Normally, because I am a designer, it would be any small change in the artwork but in this case the problem is that they flipped tracks 4 and 5. I’m not sure if all of these changes (artwork included) are for some legal reason or if it’s just because they are not that skilled but this makes no sense to me. There is seemingly no reason to do this as both songs are around the 5:00 mark and since it’s probably not for time reasons I can only assume that the people are just dumb and didn’t do their homework properly on the song order.
One other note for the tracklisting with this release is that the song “Crossroad” is at #8 while the infinitely more popular “Tha Crossroads” appears as track #18. This is actually consistent with the original European releases of the record.
The actual vinyl records are pretty neat. The pink and mauve (that’s how they are generally listed) have a fresh look to them, although I’m not sure what significance these colors have to the release. Orange, red, brown or even just black would have made more sense. The A/B-record is a transparent pink vinyl and then C/D-record is an opaque mauve with a slight marbling in it.
The labels are fairly close to their original counterparts. A simplified version of the Ruthless Records logo is used but everything else seems to be present. I’m sure there are other issues with the labels but considering it’s very hard to find any images of the original pressing I can only go off of other Ruthless Records releases that I own to compare it with. If you look at the small liner notes at the bottom of the label there appears the “For promotional use only” text printed onto the label as well. I’m sure this is more as a legal reason to allow the pressing, distribution and everything and not because it was ever used as a promotional tool. Maybe I should start my own pressing house and do this myself?
Overall this album leaves a lot to be desired by the more fervent Bone Thugs fans. The different artwork, tracklisting changes and general weirdness of it all leaves a slightly sour taste in my mouth but for the $30 price tag I would have still bought it. Originals can run upwards of $200 almost anywhere you find it, especially at discogs.com and other online retailers. For someone who just loves this album and wants a Bone Thugs-N-Harmony record I am sure this reissue will do just fine for them. As for me, well I’ll keep spinning this until I am able to get my hands on an original pressing or until they properly reissue this record.