Eyedea & Abilities – By the Throat (10 Year Anniversary vinyl re-press)

5 out of 5

Label: Rhymesayers

Produced by: DJ Abilities

Not a remaster, but a re-press of out of print vinyl, given some nice window dressing updates from Rhymesayers, which I’ll assume is what counts for the new catalogue number.

Further assuming that this mimics the sound quality of the original LP – I only own it on CD, so I dunno – I will say that the recording sounds damn good, maintaining the raw, oddball digital / organic vibe of the edition I have, while also allowing for some further depth: I picked up on some small affectations on tracks that I’d never heard before, giving me even more appreciation for Abilities’ production work, and surprising seeing as how much I’ve listened to the album – consistently – since its release. A commentor on Discogs mentioned extended gaps of silence between tracks, but I’m not hearing that, or at least not to a bothersome extent.

As far as that window dressing: the cover art (a “wrapped art paper jacket”) actually looks sharper to me, which is a plus – it’s an interesting image, but the washed out nature of the original artwork always made it feel blander than it should. The vinyl has some new coloring, which is maybe whatever, depending on how ga-ga you go for that – it’s “custom formulated watercolor swirl,” which amounts to a teal with some whirls in it; pretty, but not the most exciting coloring – but there is a unique inner sleeve which the original didn’t have, so that’s cool.

But the main upgrade that gives this the extra nudge: a lyric sheet. Eyedea’s raps are articulated well, so I think it’s easy enough to know these words, but this is still nice to have. A puzzle piece from the original release (on CD, anyway) is that there’s a cut in the jacket for liner notes to slip in, but it’s empty. I bought the disc new, but the packaging was open when I did, so I kinda thought I might’ve gotten screwed and the liner notes somehow fell out, but the description / pics on Discogs suggests the originals – both CD and vinyl – never had them. Whether or not that’s just a misinterpretation on my behalf, I love having this addition. I guess whether or not your version already has such a thing might negate that value, but I love having this release on vinyl, and that extra makes it all the more worth it.