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Home arrow Reviews arrow Albums arrow Pink Floyd's The Division Bell 20th Anniversary edition vinyl 2LP review
Pink Floyd's The Division Bell 20th Anniversary edition vinyl 2LP review Print E-mail
Written by Paul Powell Jr.   
Tuesday, 08 July 2014

Pink Floyd - The Division Bell 20th anniversary 2LPCelebrating its 20th Anniversary this year, The Division Bell is also one of Pink Floyd's most popular albums with estimated worldwide sales of 17 million. While nearly everyone found something to like in the 20th Anniversary Deluxe Box set, it was the vinyl LP that really got my adrenaline going. Given the past few years upsurge in vinyl LP interest and sales, we are going to take a closer look at the vinyl 2-LP edition of The Division Bell, which is now available.

What makes a really amazing record? Great analog recordings and their subsequent vinyl pressings are coveted by music fans for their many positive characteristics. The warmth and soul of a great record is absolutely timeless. Records today remain as vital today as ever, with no regard to decades of technological change. As vinyl junkies dig for the old wax, younger fans send sales of new LPs skyward. Some records are sleepers, but many have real attitude. It is a fact that many records have changed the trajectory of human history. I think most would agree that every ounce of human emotion can be found in their grooves. In their purest form, records are actual physical containers of recorded sound; real musical waveforms are pressed into its vinyl grooves. They simply sound better. As any serious music lover will tell you, vinyl LPs scream to be taken off the shelf and played!

Many see the vinyl LP as collectable, some as a time capsule, while many consider the venerable vinyl LP as the best example of art in Western Civilization. While not every album cover qualifies as art, The Division Bell has aged very well over the last 20 years. The iconic 'twin heads' sculpture is just as striking now as its first appearance back in 1994. It was not really a surprise the album cover was chosen as one of the iconic British LPs represented by a series of commemorative British stamps.

The Division Bell's graphics were one of Storm Thorgerson's crowning achievements. I wish he could have been here to see his 'twin heads' concept revitalized for the new editions. His 'twin heads' are everywhere; four panels from both sides of the gatefold cover, plus two from the inner sleeves. Both the steel and stone heads are represented. Close-ups of the former and latter faces comprise the remaining two panels.

Pink Floyd - The Division Bell 20th anniversary 2LP Pink Floyd - The Division Bell 20th anniversary 2LP

There are no words anywhere inside the Division Bell LP… No musician, production or engineering credits. Not even lyrics are provided. Anything else would have been superfluous. Nothing that is except 'Record 1' and 'Record 2' below the miniature "PF' script icon on each inner sleeve are provided. A closer look at the spine reveals 'Pink Floyd - The Division Bell' printed twice in opposite directions, separated by two small bullseyes… Why? So you can turn the cover upside down to use the 'stone heads' image on the back cover as an alternate front cover! The 2014 2-LP edition also passes the album cover construction grade with a thick gatefold cover stock and a high quality glossy finish. Moreover, the graphic colors are rich and well defined, plus the two inner-sleeves are also top shelf quality. As it is, the album cover design is simply perfect.

The original Division Bell LP had quite a maligned history on vinyl when first issued in 1994. It is hard to believe it could happen to the Floyd on a original studio LP, but several of their songs were actually edited down to fit the album on one vinyl LP! Two LP editions were available at the time; the original UK version was pressed on black vinyl, and the original USA version pressed on transparent blue vinyl. My USA pressing sounds just ok but because of the truncated songs I can't bear to listen to it. The Division Bell's songs have now been restored to their full length and properly formatted on two 180 gram virgin vinyl LPs. Full disclosure - I sourced this LP from the Division Bell Deluxe Box Set and I have no reason to believe that the LP version purchased separately would be fundamentally any different. The A/B, C/D labels on the two LPs are also visually striking (see photos) and included just for you discography followers the matrix numbers and hand etchings are provided at the bottom of this page.

Pink Floyd - The Division Bell 20th anniversary 2LP Pink Floyd - The Division Bell 20th anniversary 2LP
Pink Floyd - The Division Bell 20th anniversary 2LP Pink Floyd - The Division Bell 20th anniversary 2LP

I have always thought The Division Bell's sound quality was simply too warm and organic to be contained on a standard compact disc. It never sounded quite right in digital, mind you it was high quality digital sound, but it was simply too cold and couldn't breathe. Hearing it newly remastered for vinyl has confirmed this. Thankfully the recording engineers back then had the conviction and foresight to record The Division Bell properly on analog tape. Now two decades later, the 20th Anniversary edition of The Division Bell LP has been remastered from the original analog tapes by engineers James Guthrie and Joel Plante. Mastering and lacquer cutting were done at The Mastering Lab in California by Doug Sax. Quality Record Pressings in Kansas handled the pressings.

Summer's hot temperatures can be quite damaging to vinyl records. Much to my relief, The Division Bell's two records survived the rigors of shipping and arrived un-warped. The pressing quality across the two LPs are uniformly excellent with only a few stray ticks here and there. The playback backgrounds are black (near dead silent) with no issues to murk up the signal-to-noise ratio. Ideally, today's thicker and heavier 180 gram records tend to vibrate less by dropping the noise floor lower resulting in a cleaner sound. We know the music here is good, but how does it really sound?

Well, the sonic results are everything you would want and more - the presentation of voices and acoustic instruments like piano, sax, percussion and acoustic guitars are viscerally stunning in their clarity. Specifically, "Wearing The Inside Out" and "High Hopes" really take on a new dimension, while other songs with a more dynamic production; "Coming Back To Life' and "What Do You Want From Me" benefit most from the remastering by delivering deeper bass, a more textured midrange and a wider sonic wallop. After just one spin, I knew The Division Bell was among the best sounding vinyl records in my collection. Ideally, this is one of those kind of records that will reveal more of its charms by repeated listening. I really look forward to replaying this LP, and that is the highest recommendation I can give it.

In my experience, listening to The Division Bell 20th Anniversary 2-LP remaster was like hearing it again for the first time. It now joins other Pink Floyd albums to be reissued on vinyl in the last few years, in what hopefully will become a reissue campaign of their entire studio catalog. Pink Floyd's music was born on vinyl and it deserves to be preserved and listened to on vinyl. If dropping the needle on vinyl is your passion, or if you are just getting into vinyl LP collecting, the new 2-LP remastered edition of The Division Bell is a must have for your Pink Floyd LP collection.

ORDERING INFORMATION:

This special edition is sure to disappear quickly, and therefore we urge you to order your copy soon if you are considering adding this to your collection. As our review states, it really is sonically a stand-out release, and we can imagine that many vinyl fiends will be searching this one out. You can order it directly through these links:

DOUBLE VINYL EDITION:  Amazon.com  Canada  Amazon UK  Germany  France  Italy  Spain 

You can also order it through the Acoustic Sounds website, which is the retail arm of Quality Record Pressings, although with postage costs this option would probably be most suitable for our friends in the US.

Barcode & Matrix Information

Spine Number from LP: 0825646293285
Barcode from LP: No Barcode
Barcode Text from Box Set wrap: 8 2564629326 1
 
Matrix / Runout (Side A Etching): 2564629328-A-RE3
BE 49494-01 A3
Matrix / Runout (Side B Etching): 2564629328-B-RE2
BE 49494-01 B2
Matrix / Runout (Side C Etching): 2564629328-C-RE2
BE 49494-02 C2
Matrix / Runout (Side D Etching): 2564629328-D-RE2
BE 49494-02 D2
 
Matrix / Runout (Side A Etching): 3 =
Matrix / Runout (Side B Etching): V =
Matrix / Runout (Side C & D Etching): V
Matrix / Runout (Side A, B, C & D Mastering Facility Stamp): TML-M

 
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