This time of year brings back a lot of phrases to mind. The obvious ones, of course, are “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Chanukkah,” and “Happy New Year,” but also, “Makes a great gift.” This one, however, frequently renders itself completely pointless if you have to wonder if the Sophia from Golden Girls Chia Pet or the bulk pack of Flex Tape rise to the level of being “great gifts.”
The good ones will, nonetheless, identify themselves from the…good enough ones.
It’s the main reason why music box sets tend to come out between September and December, after all. And this year, fans of the band Daniel Amos got a great one with the remastered and refreshed Horrendous Disc set. The vinyl version of this collection has just been issued through a collaboration between Stunt Records its original label Solid Rock, and is available at the band’s website. I reviewed the CD version of this set back in August, and it contains my feelings about the record and where I feel it’s place in the grand scheme of things ought to reside. For now, let’s focus on this record edition.
From the start, you will not get a better version of this album on vinyl LP than you will now. Without even touching the extras – the neon orange and green wax, the bonus discs, the book and the box they all come in – this album never sounded so good. Scour Ebay for original pressings and you will still come up short. The producers and coordinators of this project have spared no expense to bring the sound quality up to it’s best version. Sure, it sounds like an album from 1978 on the verge of the New Wave ’80s, but all those touchstones are in the music, not in the recording capacities or limitations.
Beyond this, the album proper has been expanded to a 2-LP set in a gatefold sleeve, the first LP faithfully recreating the original running order. The second LP features a few songs that were swapped in and out for the international editions of the album, some tracks that were recorded at the same time as Horrendous Disc but did not make the running order, and then there are the “ten biggies” – more of that in a moment. Some of these new songs will be familiar to longtime fans as they emerged on compilations over the years. Some have not. For the first time, all the studio material from this era have been made “canon,” in their best-sounding forms.
The Ten Biggies refer to a selection of the unused Horrendous Disc cuts and a few others which were shopped to the major labels at the time. There was a lot of hope for crossover success, but ultimately a strained relationship with Solid Rock Records founder Larry Norman complicated things, causing the actual album and most of its pieces to be shelved until the band left, found another label, released ¡Alarma! in 1981. It’s not for me to speculate why Norman chose to flood the market with Horrendous Disc once the band moved on to ¡Alarma!, but suffice it to say that no previous friction between the parties was alleviated by the action.
For the first time, these demo cuts are available as its own release, although “demo” is a misleading term. These are fully realized studio run-throughs that sound nearly as polished as the main album itself, and sounds better in this refurbished format.
The box also includes a replica of the 1980 10″ E.P. of cuts and extras meant to promote Horrendous Disc, perhaps at that time adding another level of confusion to the works. The initial E.P. has been a prized collectable on the secondary market, and priced accordingly, so it has been out of reach for many fans. It’s terrific to finally have access to a version of the release.
Finally, the box offers a 7″ picture disc which is exclusive to this package. Need it be said: you really get a lot out of this set. But who is this for, exactly? Right off the bat, if you know of the group’s existence, or know someone who does, you won’t have to vouch for the commitment its fans have for it. Horrendous Disc is a terrific rock record that got caught up in controversy and difficult business dealings. Chances are good that if you know someone who is a rabid collector, they (or you) have both the CD set and the LP set already.
If not, and you need to determine which format suits you or that other person, the CD box is far more complex, including live performances, rough demos, studio banter, radio promos, and on. It is everything era-adjacent and then some and is truly the archivist’s choice for the release.
If, on the other hand, you want something that appeals to your nostalgia, there’s something very satisfying about slipping the needle onto the “actual” Horrendous Disc and hearing these long-loved tracks in a familiar, but entirely renovated way. The bonus discs and sturdy storage box make everything complete. Be it for yourself or someone you love, the vinyl box set of Daniel Amos’ Horrendous Disc really does make a great gift (but is NOT available at your local Walgreens, Woolworths, Alexanders, or Korvettes).
This set is available at http://danielamos.com/store/