Roxy Music Box Set—First Look and Listen

In this You Tube video, analogplanet editor Michael Fremer takes a look and limited listen to Universal Music's new 8 LP Roxy Music box set and finds some sonic surprises.

More detailed reviews coming but in the meantime, watch this:

Daniel Emerson's picture

...that is you look hard enough at the cover of 'Avalon', in the distance you can see the bloke from the Wishbone Ash album 'Argus', engaging in a really intense staring match with Mr Floppyhorns on 'Avalon'.

If you can't see it, drink more!

sharris55's picture

I wonder how these will compare to the series that was released a few years back "From the Capital Vaults". Those had gold labels prominently stating 180 gram vinyl, audiophile quality, faithfully restored, and POSTER included!. The labels appear to be Virgin. I haven't even opened half of mine. I have Roxy Music, For Your Pleasure, Stranded, and Country Life. Since I do not have Avalon on vinyl, that may make the box set indispensable. By the way, the few older copies I have on vinyl all are labeled ATCO. Won't even start with how many digital versions I have bought and re-bought over the years. Never thought these were superior sounding recordings. Look forward to hearing your thoughts on this box.

Michael Fremer's picture
Were blah.... also, the ATCOs were a later reissue when the catalog changed hands. As I recall they were not gatefold jackets...or some were not..
Paul Robertson's picture

It happened to be on the heels of his slight criticism of Flesh and Blood along with a small poke at Manifesto (love those records myself), but hey that's fun and it's all taste right? There's always been that early versus old period thing argument. Discussing Avalon though (and who didn't like that LP hello) really gets my curiosity up, as to how it sounds versus previous pressings. Based on what MF thinks upon initial listening, it could be super interesting even as a distinct alternative to the originals. Not big on boxes and usually the books that go with them, but that's fine I used to be and lots of people are now. Bring on the written review or reviews of this music Michael. Can't wait! Always love your takes, and appreciate them very much.

Michael Fremer's picture
I really like it...perhaps I didn't say what I mean with sufficient clarity (just as I kept saying "this one" and "this one" without carefully identifying which was which! Something I only noticed watching it back.... since these have discrete bar codes on the back (I should have mentioned that!), perhaps they will eventually sell these individually.
vinyl listener's picture

how do you get all those perfect gz pressings ?
all the records i have from gz have been warped - from mild to wild, and usually noisy. recent ones like the mark knopfler boxset tracker (gz pressing ?) have had nice quiet surfaces but are still plagued with warps.

Michael Fremer's picture
Because I get sealed copies not ones picked over...besides I doubt the people at the majors at this point in time don't even know what to look for....
SLS's picture

although I haven't found warps to be my issue, it is mostly ticks/pops. I find it hard to believe that (if in fact you order records like the rest of us)that if when GZ/distributor sees the outgoing copy of a particular lp is sent to MF that it doesn't get some sort of special attention.

Doronca2856's picture
Doronca2856's picture

It's nice to know I'm not the only one who leaves there turntable running ...

Michael Fremer's picture
Left it on for some "visual stimulus"
Avalon0387's picture

I used to have a British import box set in the 80s that I've long since gotten rid of (I was stupid). It was the same design and albums, though not 180 gram.
I wonder how the audio quality of that box set compares to this one?

G.R.Noakes's picture

My copy of Country Life has the half-naked ladies on the cover, and it was purchased in Landover, Maryland, just outside of Washington D.C., so I KNOW it was released in this country. I probably bought it at Montgomery Ward.

essmeier's picture

Country Life's original cover was issued in the U.S. When first sold, it came with shrinkwrap that was green and opaque on the front cover and transparent on the back. That way, you could see the song titles, while being spared whatever damage might have been incurred by seeing the front cover.

Michael Fremer's picture
By that point I was buying imports when possible...
Michael Fremer's picture
If so, you must have bought it early and it must have been pulled to prevent too much "pulling".
Martin's picture

I'm really interested to read your comments on how the box set sounds.
I've got most of these, Avalon an original UK and a German pressing I picked up once for 2 bucks...
Because all the way back in 1983 and 1984 Avalon was one of my favourite records....
If this was all analogue, I'd pick it up. But not at 96/24 digital. There is simply no point.

wao62's picture

I agree, if it were all analog I'd pick it up, but digital no matter how well done is perceived by more & more as inauthentic, & like the old reprocessed stereo records to be avoided!

Michael Fremer's picture
I'm going to digitize "fair use" amounts of an original "UK Avalon" and re-digitize this reissue so you can listen for yourself...not as good as listening "live" but I think you'll get what they did from that..
orthobiz's picture

And I was hoping to avoid yet another repurchase. I'm pretty happy with the record quality, still have my American originals but alas, no British pressings. Am waiting to hear your verdict on this new box, especially when compared to the German box. Cool video, Mike!

orthobiz's picture

The way I tell the story, Country Life was released in the States in both versions, girls on the cover and no girls on the cover. Somehow I think the dark shrink wrap came first, kinda like Wish You Were Here, and later pressings just had the plants on the cover.

vinyl listener's picture

polydor deluxe editions. each album has a crudely cut sticker on the back with 2 gold stars. what does that mean ?

VirginVinyl's picture

Michael, can you do a review on how to decipher the code on the vinyl run-out. I'm documenting my records collection slowly and want to know more about my records if I have 1st pressing or clone from a hot stamper etc.
Thanks for the Roxy Music review.

SansuiStef's picture

I am glad you didn't edit out the barking, made it seem a little more on a personal level, almost like I was there, in your laboratory talking vinyl. I think the dogs thought a quest was over, they did not know about you were talking to and went into guard mode, either way they got their two cents in. If an Audiophile's dog(s) could talk, wonder what would they would think of Roxy Music ??

Irwin's picture

I know CDs aren't necessarily the focus here but you might be interested to know that the latest SHM-SACD is a flat transfer from the original analogue tapes. I bought this a few weeks ago to compare to my well worn UK pressing and I was pretty impressed. Though I have to say the UK original still wins out and I wonder whether the flat transfer was from the US tape. Am really intrigued now to hear the 180gm following your review. Though I do wonder just how many copies of the same album I can sneak past my wife :)

tcassette's picture

As I recall, Country Life was indeed issued with the "babes" cover in the U.S. with both clear and opaque shrink wraps before being issued with only vegetation on the cover. Wal-Mart and other big retailers could dictate that only the hidden covers be in their stores. At the local independent shop where I bought mine, no censorship was imposed.

Roxy Music was on several related labels in the U.S. starting in 1972. The first 2 albums were on Reprise, then the third was on Warner Brothers. The next studio albums issued on Atco until Avalon, which was on Warner/EG.

Sound on U.S. pressings was mediocre, due to length (the first album is over 21 minutes per side) and the poor overall industry pressings which really nose-dived in the mid-70s due to the oil shortage.

I have a U.S. promo copy of Avalon that sounds pretty good for 1982. However, my best copy of Avalon is the 2003 Virgin multi-channel SACD that was remixed and remastered by Clearmountain and Ludwig. Wow!

I also agree that the German box set that Michael showed has good pressings and sounds.

Finally, at the risk of heresy on this forum, I recommend the HDCD-encoded compact disks that Virgin reissued some years ago if you need the convenience of CDs and have HDCD playback capability. These were re-mastered by Bob Ludwig.

mikerr's picture

I am very fond of the Airy enlightenment wafting from my Japanese Vinyl of Avalon

SLS's picture

the new Avenger tt by VPI spinning in the background would it?

vinyl listener's picture

i spy a pureaudio vinyl phono stage ?