Everything But The Girl announced their million-selling critically acclaimed seventh studio album Amplified Heart will appear for the first time on vinyl on July 7 as a deluxe 25th Anniversary Edition mastered at half-speed for optimum audio fidelity at London's Abbey Road Studios. The LP is now available for pre-order.
The record - released in early 1994 by UK alt-pop duo Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt - contains the original version of what was to become the band's biggest hit, "Missing." If Todd Terry's famous house remix took that song onto the world's dance floors and upper reaches of the global pop charts in 1995 (#2 on US Billboard Hot 100, #1 on US Billboard Hot 100 Airplay, #3 on the UK Top 40, and #1 in Canada, Germany and Italy), the original version also remains a timeless classic, now in heavy demand on modern streaming services, and one that perhaps better reflects the enduring appeal of the album's modern-retro hybrid of ardent folk-soul and scratchy electronica.
Yet, the genesis of the album was anything but easy. Written in the aftermath of Ben's harrowing near-death experience in 1992 from a rare auto-immune disease, the lyrics written alternately by Thorn and Watt are raw unflinching stories of love and isolation, that often disarm with their candour.
To capture the sound, the duo turned in part to folk-rock legends Danny Thompson (double bass), Dave Mattacks (drums), and engineer Jerry Boys (Sandy Denny, REM, Sawmills Studio) to anchor the heart of the songs but also to electronic producer, John Coxon to find the loops and dusty sounds that give the album much of its underlying atmosphere. Brief cameo roles are played by Richard Thompson on electric guitar and veteran string arranger Harry Robinson (Nick Drake's "River Man").
"We've always been proud of Amplified Heart," says Ben, reflecting on the new edition. "It is both close to the bone - understandable, given its background - but also gentle in its touch, and shot through with resilience. The newly mastered pressing sounds amazing - as good as the original tapes."
"I think it’s a real rebirth record," adds Tracey, "the moment we got our mojo back. And it's where 'Missing' began its story, so it’s a significant album for us."
The album was acclaimed on its release, many months before Missing's stratospheric climb. "Their newest album, and possibly their best," said the New York Times. "Poetic minimalism at its finest," commented the LA Times. "There's real warmth in their songs and in the way they let their folk and R&B roots show. Their new album is a gem for all these reasons," added the New Yorker, while Newsweek deemed it "the most beautifully mature album of their career and one of the sleeper gems of 1994."
The new vinyl edition has been mastered by long-time Everything But The Girl mastering engineer, Miles Showell, now at Abbey Road Studios, who is one of only a handful of engineers specialising in half-speed mastering that uses new techniques to more faithfully reproduce the sound of original master tapes.
Assembling the artwork was difficult. Ben and Tracey's own label Buzzin' Fly Records acquired the rights to the album from Warner Music in 2017, but Warner had lost or disposed of original photography. As a result, the new front cover was sourced from the original photographer who did not have the exact frame but was able to provide the near-identical one taken a fraction of a second later. Similarly, the original back cover photo - taken from a hotel room at night in Osaka by Ben in 1992 - was nowhere to be found; instead, Ben unearthed the original negatives and selected a new photo of a Japanese bullet train taken the same night with a similar atmosphere for the new back cover. English fashion and art photographer Corinne Day's iconic portraits of the duo that made up the centrefold of the original CD booklet were also lost; with only scans of the booklet prints to work from, the images were digitally de-noised and - unable to be enlarged further - were used for the new vinyl's labels.
The original 1994 release of Amplified Heart saw Todd Terry's remix of "Missing" added as a bonus eleventh track on later CD runs, and an expanded deluxe double CD version including a heft of bonus material came out in 2013, but this new vinyl edition is faithful to the original 1994 ten-track running order and does not include the Todd Terry remix or additional tracks.
Amplified Heart, the 25th Anniversary Vinyl Edition, is released by Buzzin' Fly under exclusive license to Chrysalis Records on 7th July 2019.