Our Vinyl Me, Please Essentials Record of the Month for June is Return to Cookie Mountain, the second LP from Brooklyn art-rockers TV on the Radio. Our edition comes on two-color (translucent amber and grain color) 45-RPM vinyl, comes with a 24-page lyrics booklet, and was remastered at Alchemy UK. Read below to find out why we picked Return to Cookie Mountain, and more about the remastering and package details.
Andrew Winistorfer: The last three Essentials picks have basically been a stroll down Storf’s memory lane. Return to Cookie Mountain is one of my five favorite albums of all time; I still remember what it was like to hear the leaked version that hit Torrent sites the summer before my junior year of college. I listened to it over and over when I made pizza dough that summer. I was convinced it was a classic months before it came out, and my opinion of it has basically only grown since then. I saw them at least three times on that tour — I think it was four, but I think the fourth time was actually during the Dear Science tour — and every time was like an amazing religious experience.
So, why did we pick this one? Because this album is a classic, and because if you haven’t listened to it, it has a chance of changing your life. That might be hyperbolic, but for me it was true. I guess I'm saying read my Liner Notes.
Cameron Schaefer: It’s also been an album that’s been asked for for a really long time; it was on our surveys where we ask members what they want, and it’s one our members have asked us to do something with for a really long time. It’s also an album that people who’s taste I trust have told us we needed to do too, as like a “You should do a TV on the Radio album” thing.
It’s also an album that’s been in need of a reissue; the only version you can even buy in stores anymore is a $40-plus European pressing from 2013. It needs to be out in the world and celebrated for being the classic it was and is.
Plus, the version that you could buy in the U.S. in like 2007 or 2008 when the vinyl finally came out was on this super huge cardboard for some reason; it was like an inch taller than all my other records, which I never understood. It was too big to fit in any plastic sleeve I ever encountered. So, I’m happy to finally own this in a package that is a regulation size [laughs]. And it comes with all the accoutrements; gatefold, tip-on jacket and a 24-page color booklet. Also on two-color vinyl.
Tell me about the remastering process here. This is as good as the album has sounded to my ears.
We treated this package a lot like we did with our Beach House release a couple months ago: We wanted to do everything we could to make this so that if you’re going to own Return to Cookie Mountain on vinyl, this is the only version you’ll need for the rest of your life. That’s a fun way for us to approach these projects; ultimately, some collectors are collectors of every variant, and that’s great, but if that’s not the case, how can we go about creating a reissue package that makes you feel like it’s the only version of the album you’ll ever need? I think we did that here. Heavyweight jacket, 45 RPM, half-speed remastered at Alchemy in the UK so it sounds incredible.
But from a Test Pressing perspective, this is one that was a challenge because there’s a lot of weird ambient noise that’s part of the master tapes, and part of the noise being made by the band, where we had a lot of cases of having to listen to our test pressings, and then compare the sound to Spotify, or the digitized Master we were using, or the CD version to make sure what we were hearing wasn’t a fault of the pressing. There’s a lot of "grit" in the sound of this record, and determining what was potentially surface noise or just the crazy noises the band was making was a challenge. But we ended up with an album that sounds as good as it ever has.
Plus, for the variant collectors, we've got this one on two colors, so we're covering all our bases here. [laughs]
Andrew Winistorfer is Senior Director of Music and Editorial at Vinyl Me, Please, and a writer and editor of their books, 100 Albums You Need in Your Collection and The Best Record Stores in the United States. He’s written Listening Notes for more than 30 VMP releases, co-produced multiple VMP Anthologies, and executive produced the VMP Anthologies The Story of Vanguard, The Story of Willie Nelson, Miles Davis: The Electric Years and The Story of Waylon Jennings. He lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota.