Vinyl Corner is a feature where we take a look at vinyl pressings of various albums and weigh them up to see just how good they sound, how well they’re pressed and what sort of packaging to expect – as well as giving a brief overview of the music itself. This time, we’re taking a look at another release from France’s Favorite Recordings, a reissue of the mid ’80s funk/soul private press of The Parker Brothers‘ self titled album.
Blue-Eyed-Soul collective The Parker Brothers released one lone LP back in 1985, originally seeing limited vinyl-only release via Crown Vetch Enterprises Inc – a label that saw all of two releases before disappearing without a trace. As is so often the case with such releases, The Parker Brothers’ self titled album is obscure – even, it must be said, by the standards of many similar releases – but those who do know it hold the album in high regard, and original pressings tend to fetch a decent sum on the rare occasions they find their way onto the open market. While original copies are not as valuable as some comparable records, the £30 to £50 price tag is still considerable enough that a reissue is more than welcome. Leave it to France’s Favorite Recordings to give the album a shot of new life then, as they reissued the album in 2016 giving it the same attractive presentation that we’ve grown used to from their releases (we recently covered two of their other releases here and here). Musically, the album is largely what you’d expect from a private press mid ’80s soul album – lots of tight, locked in grooves with plenty of frothing sax solos and neatly blended harmonies backing passionate lead vocal work.
Vinyl weight is solid on this reissue, around 140g to 150g by our best estimate. It’s also a clean pressing, with no obvious handling marks present from new on the surface of the disc. We did unfortunately find that our copy has some moderate warp present from new, however this was not severe enough to affect playback in any way – so it’s a purely cosmetic irritation. This Favorite Recordings reissue impresses with a tight, sonically immediate remastered soundscape which separates the instruments nicely and presents the potentially cluttered mixture of drums, guitar, sax, keys, bass (and sometimes even strings) in such a way that the album’s musicality never feels overbearing and that individual strands of sound are easy to pick out. Pressing quality is clean throughout – there’re no pops or clicks and the only slight issue we heard was a very light touch of surface noise here and there but even that was sparing.
As with the other releases we’ve looked at from Favorite Recordings, we’re thoroughly impressed by the quality of the packaging and presentation on this reissue. This is a thick, sturdy sleeve built from heavyweight card and the art is printed with clarity and precision and is pasted on American-style to give the sleeve a charmingly old-school feel and tactility that the majority of modern releases lack. Spine text is easy to make out and both the front and back covers look great, the rear of the sleeve presenting a thorough smorgasbord of credits, covering everything from musicians found on the album to the studios that the album was recorded at. The inner sleeve earns this release another point, being a high quality Nagaoka 102-style sleeve which will definitely offer a good deal of protection to the record and is higher quality than the inner sleeves usually found on such reissues. One last point to note is that of the labels, which are attractive and informative. They present track-listing, songwriting credits, catalogue number and record side all without becoming cluttered and in terms of presentation they recall a bygone era of logo-based company labels, rather than the boutique art-based labels that almost all releases have had since the ’80s. They look great and definitely contribute toward the overall feeling of tasteful execution that this release has.
This reissue of The Parker Brothers‘ private-press soul gem is one that impresses throughout. The pressing sounds great and presentation is excellent; although the original is, relatively speaking, not too bankruptingly expensive, it is rare-as-hens-teeth and this reissue presents a far more attainable and wallet-friendly alternative to the original pressing.