Madrigal madness (updated)
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An arcane mystery connected to the profoundly great and spectacularly rare MADRIGAL album from New Jersey c1970 is clearly an appropriate way to kick 2013 into action! One might figure that the vibe around this beast couldn't get stranger, but a recent discovery concerning its pressing really uplevels the whole trip. In a nutshell, it appears that part of the pressing has a weird and to my knowledge unparalleled manufacturing error, which causes two tracks on side 1 to play only one channel of music -- the other channel is dead silence! This is curious by itself, but the mind reels when one realizes that this is not a mastering error, or a defective run, but a pressing fault which only affects part of the one (and only) run of copies. To my mind this seems near impossible, but a look at all the facts on hand produces this only explanation.
A task force of three weathered collectors of underground rarities have scrutinized the Madrigal mystery, and among other things found out that:
- there definitely exists two different disc variants of Madrigal, one which plays normal stereo throughout, and one which loses one channel on S1T2 and S1T3. Original copies have been played to check, no one is relying on memory or old tape dubs. It is a fact.
- the stamper/matrix used for the disc variants was the same, unlikely as that may sound. Hand-etched dead wax details have been compared down to the tiniest marking and found to be identical in every aspect between the 'normal stereo' and the 'channel drop' copies. In other words, all copies were pressed from the same stamper, but some of them came out with only 1 channel on two tracks. Again, a fact.
- another collector was remembered as saying that he had heard another Madrigal long ago which was also a 'channel drop' variant, which means that at least two such exist. The number of 'normal stereo' copies are verified as at least two in existence. Upwards 10 copies of Madrigal have been found and sold over the years, so at least 5-6 are sitting in collections and need to be examined for potential channel loss. Input here is most welcome.
UPDATE: a European collector got in touch to report that his Madrigal copy was a 'channel-drop', and that his dead wax markings were identical to what is described in this thread. This makes 3 known channel-drop copies so far.
Again, I cannot explain in any credible technical way how the mechanical and not overly complex process of pressing a record from a stamper can cause the loss of a channel on some copies but not on others, and no one involved had heard of anything similar. Withdrawn and replaced pressings, yes, second runs that introduce new errors, yes, but this Madrigal madness... unheard of.
This becomes a bigger deal than a mere tech curiosity since Madrigal is one of the truly rare and expensive US private pressings, changing hands for several thousand dollars at times. Evaluating the rarity and status of the 'channel drop' variant, unknown to exist until now, presents a formidable challenge for the leading dealers of big ticket items. The fact that the channel loss affects the long second track, which some consider the centre-piece of the album, will probably factor in. On the other hand, it's possible that the 'channel drop' copy is the rarer variant of a record that was already exceptionally rare, which may interest some heavy specialist collectors.
Madrigal is a unique animal in many ways, and I guess it just grew another deformed extremity with our discovery.
Part of dead wax markings on 'channel drop' Madrigal; as observed above the dead wax on the 'normal stereo' variant is identical in every detail, meaning that both copies come from one and the same stamper.
Posted by Patrick at Lysergia
at 00:22 CET
Updated: 13 January 2013 20:55 CET