VU&N UK pressing oddity

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simonm
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VU&N UK pressing oddity

Post by simonm » 21 Feb 2019 21:42

I was listening to my UK stereo VU&N a while back - the 1971 pressing with US sleeve (peelable banana and airbrushed-way Emerson) but UK MGM label. It sounded pretty good! Mostly I listen to a US mono. I've had this LP for at least 20 yrs and just picked it up cheap at some point - it has 70% of the banana and just looks cool. I've probably only played it once or twice as I have several versions of the LP, as i suspect some of you also have. So far so ordinary.

But when i was putting it away I spotted this odd thing on the labels -

Image

Image

the side B label has the Tom Wilson production credit in place of Heroin, and on the Side A label has Heroin listed in place of the Sunday Morning production credit!
i can't believe I've never noticed it before. I checked and it's not listed on Discogs, and seems to have earlier matrix numbers to the closest one on there
https://www.discogs.com/The-Velvet-Unde ... se/6193144

side B runout on mine is Matrix / R((Runout side A stamped)): 2315056 A // 1 ▽ 420 1 2 2

anybody else got this version?

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simonm
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Re: VU&N UK pressing oddity

Post by simonm » 21 Feb 2019 21:45

uh - got pics mixed up - here is side A

Image

and here's the runout:

Image

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Re: VU&N UK pressing oddity

Post by schnittstelle » 22 Feb 2019 07:23

I think you could add your copy as misprint to the discogs database. ▽ 420 = Pressed By – PRS Ltd.

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Sheila Klein
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Re: VU&N UK pressing oddity

Post by Sheila Klein » 22 Feb 2019 17:32

That's a very cool item. I sure am curious to hear what "Produced By Tom Wilson" sounds like :lol:

As someone who's worked for a long time in print preparation, my initial guess was that the mixup was due to paste-up error, where individual correction lines were pasted over respective lines on the wrong sides, but that would only make sense if there were errors on just the two lines (one on each side) that were swapped. My next guess is that the typesetter was on "Heroin."

I was listening to my UK stereo VU&N a while back - the 1971 pressing with US sleeve (peelable banana and airbrushed-way Emerson) but UK MGM label
Was that a common configuration -- in other words, was there a quantity of that U.S. sleeve covering '71 UK pressings? If so, anyone know how it came about?

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Re: VU&N UK pressing oddity

Post by simonm » 22 Feb 2019 19:04

I have no idea how it happened, but yes, it's generally known that some 1971 UK reissues came in US sleeves with a new Polydor cat number sticker on the back, covering V6-5008.

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Re: VU&N UK pressing oddity

Post by iaredatsun » 23 Feb 2019 14:00

Simon, that is curious and an interesting discovery. I just checked my early UK pressing and the label is as normal. The matrix is similar but my matrices end ▽ 420 11 1 and ▽ 420 11 2 on either side. And should we assume that '11 2' means it's earlier than yours which is '12 2' ?

My cover is the same. Fully peeled, US style card, airbrushed rear. No Polydor sticker.
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Re: VU&N UK pressing oddity

Post by simonm » 23 Feb 2019 14:31

Nothing logical in this thread - I assumed the mistake was because it was the first pressing of the reissue, but 11 1 and 12 1 would have to be earlier than mine (11 5 and 12 2). So - could there really be 3 or 4 pressings which came in US sleeves? That seems strange. One theory might be that the album sold reasonably well in the UK after Transformer and Ziggy Stardust came out, but this effect wasn't felt in the US until later, so MGM took the opportunity to get rid of a stack of US sleeves that they had printed up optimistically?

iaredatsun - can you look at the credits text layout is otherwise the same as mine? It's v small but you can see on the image on Olivier's site that the text is arranged differently, with the songs, then the arrangement and production credits on two separate lines

Image

he also give the matrix refs as

Side A: 2315056 A//1 420 1 1 8
Side B: 2315056 B//1 420 1 2 7

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Re: VU&N UK pressing oddity

Post by iaredatsun » 23 Feb 2019 18:23

I have another UK pressing. It was the first VU I bought and it was in the racks around the time when Transformer came out, as it was the next thing I bought. That UK copy already had the UK sleeve – non-peelable, and where the LP opening is in the front of the gatefold. Thinner standard Uk sleeve construction. The matrices on that copy are 11 7 and 12 4. Olivier's site lists that one as October 1971. I figure the one's in the US sleeves were earlier. So, I wonder whether the UK MGM repress could have been even earlier than we imagine. Certainly even the later MGM pressing pre-dates Transformer, which was Nov 1972.

My copy in the US sleeve has the same credits text layout as yours. Three lines on A, two lines on B.

My later copy (in the UK sleeve) has four lines on A (two + two) and three on B (one + two). It matches that October 1971 entry.
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Re: VU&N UK pressing oddity

Post by simonm » 24 Feb 2019 14:53

Alfredo's book has various reviews from Sept/Oct 1971 for the VU and Chelsea Girl reissues - one of them says they are result of a new distribution deal between Polydor and MGM, so that seems to be the time frame that the copies of VU&N in the US sleeves, as the peelable banana is mentioned in some reviews. But did some first-gen 1971 VU&Ns come in UK-printed sleeves? Dunno - see below.

Stamper numbers are not something I've looked at before, so I did some research into Polydor matrix numbers. The last 3 numbers are the father, mother and stamper numbers. Then I realised I didn’t know what this meant exactly, so I searched some more, on the Hoffman forums and elsewhere, and found out some more stuff.

The process goes like this. First there is the lacquer, the cut master of the record. A mirror-image copy is made, called the father, then another mirror-image copy is made from this (the mother), then a third mirror-image copy is made of that to make a copy of the father, and that is the stamper used to make the record itself. This process has been used since the 1920s - here is a detailed description from a modern pressing plant:

http://www.gzvinyl.com/Manufacturing/Me ... ssing.aspx

Numbers are not precise but it goes something like this: 1 lacquer makes 1 father, 1 father makes 10 mothers, each mother makes up to 10 stampers, each stamper makes about 1000 pressings - so a pair of lacquers make about 100,000 discs (incidentally - this is where the first silver presentation discs for sales of 100,000 records came from, they were originally the actual stampers - starting with George Formby in 1937.)

Stampers are very fragile, quality checks are random, and the life of the stamper depends on the kind of music or how loud the cut is, so broadly that’s how the mother and stamper numbers get out of sync on each side of an LP, and the code doesn’t necessarily progress logically from 1 1 1 to 1 1 2, 1 1 3 etc, because not all stampers pass quality control to make actual records. We can know that stamper 1 1 1 is made before 1 1 2, but if they are made in the same batch there’s nothing to say that the first records pressed are from the first stampers made.

The inverted triangle and 420 means they were pressed at the former Philips plant in Chingford, East London/Essex. From ’69 to ’79 the plant was owned by Phonodisc Ltd, but it wasn’t known as PRS Ltd until 1979, though the marks didn’t change.

So - going back to ‘first pressing’ refs on discogs and Olivier’s site, these could (and probably do) refer to codes on early copies bought in 1971, but for industrial scale record production the stamper codes are not very reliable indicators of when a record hits the streets. Iaredatsun’s copy in a UK sleeve has lower stamper codes than both of these published sources (and mine), but it wasn’t bought until autumn 1972. This could be evidence that the first copies pressed were not made from the lowest-numbered stampers. Can we assume they made a bunch of stampers in batches, or did they only make a new stamper when the old one wore out or was damaged? Dunno. Certainly for big selling acts they would want capacity to meet demand, but how many copies of VU&N did Polydor expect to sell in 1971/2? Dunno again.

And so going back to the main subject again, the stamper code on the misprint label is not the significant thing, it’s the misprint itself. Doh!

Oh well - I learned about how records are made, but will refrain from further speculation about stampers. I did find this amazing rant from a 45 dealer which covers some of the issues. It relates to Beatles /Stones etc so is on a different scale to the VU, but I did find it entertaining! http://select45rpm.com/pages/stampercodes.html

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Re: VU&N UK pressing oddity

Post by lurid » 27 Feb 2019 20:33

just to throw in my tuppenceworth - I had spotted this anomaly before but had forgotten about it!

Many of the 1971 UK review scans in Alfredo's book came from my collection. (I seem to have in my mind that there was a 1969 UK reissue but I can't remember why I think that)

I have a copy of the 1971 (?) "misprinted label" UK issue - my copy came in a US sleeve with peelable banana. There is sticker residue on the back cover where (presumably) the UK catalogue number sticker originally covered the "V6-5008" US catalogue number. Other than that it is a standard thick cardboard "no emerson" US stereo sleeve. Matrix numbers are 11 5 and 12 2

I also have a "printed banana" version - printing error now corrected and matrix numbers 11 27 and 12 21.

Other minor difference - the "misprint" version has "Copyright Control" while the later version has "Sunbury Music Ltd" on each label. The arrangements/production credits are also slightly differently arranged on each version.

Go figure!

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