Thrice – The Artist In The Ambulance (1st, 2nd & 3rd Presses)

Posted: September 15, 2010 in Vinyl

This was Thrice’s breakout album. I believe it has been certified gold by the RIAA since it’s release back in 2003. The first pressing was done as a double LP on white vinyl, housed in a gatefold jacket. There were only 1500 copies pressed on white for the first pressing, which has different artwork than the CD release of the album. This record also started the trend of Thrice vinyl releases having different artwork than their CD counterparts.  The first pressing features an exclusive bonus track entitled “Eclispe.” This bonus track has subsequently been released on the 2014 re-press, which completely replicates the first pressing artwork and track listing wise. Copies from the first pressing regularly sold for $100 or more. But the price has started to go down a bit since the re-press was announced and subsequently released, but it may swing back up as time goes on from people wanting a copy from the first pressing or those who want a copy with the alternate artwork.

For the second pressing the record went back to the original CD artwork. But there was a painfully obvious oversight with the jacket artwork for the second pressing, as the artwork is very pixellated. It’s something that should have been caught before the records went into full production, but unfortunately it was not. My opinion is that the artwork is pretty bad but there is nothing that can be done about it. The general opinion varies widely to those who do not think it’s a problem at all, to those terribly upset about the pixellation, to those that are not upset nor thrilled, but tolerate the poor job done with the jackets. From my perspective, the closer you hold the jacket to your eyes the worse the pixellation appears, but even at arm’s length the pixellation is noticeable for me (and I have very long arms). If you look at the jacket from across the room the pixellation is not noticeable at all, but what good is that. I have included a picture of the pixellation below, which is a close up shot, but it is no exaggeration of how bad it actually is.

There were 1000 copies pressed (actual final count is 1,103 copies) on green marble vinyl for the second pressing, once again as a double LP. The second pressing has the same insert and gatefold artwork as the first pressing. So the only differences between the two pressings are the color of the records and the cover art. The second pressing was sold exclusively through Hot Topic and people went nuts over it, either pulling an all-nighter waiting for the records to go live on Hot Topic’s website or setting their alarms for ungodly hours like 3 or 4 am on the east coast.

As expected a large amount of copies were immediately flipped on ebay, with people buying multiple copies online and/or raiding a physical store for all the copies they had. When this flipping first started copies were selling at a peak of about $70, but now that a third pressing was announced the price has dropped down to pretty much their original retail price. Some people are even stuck with the multiple copies they bought to flip, which is hilarious.

The  pixellation problem with the jackets was known about before the records went on sale, but it was too late to do anything about it apparently, as they were sold regardless. Rather than fix the problem by just printing up replacement jackets, the label went about fixing the problem the cash grab route by still selling the pressing with a known defect then go ahead with selling another pressing on a different color, where the artwork problems will be addressed and fixed. It’s already in the works and is expected to be released in the near future, probably before Summer 2012. For what will be the third pressing, the jackets will apparently not have the pixellation issue.

The third pressing was done on red vinyl and was released in later April 2012, once again limited to 1,000 copies. The gatefold artwork and insert remains the same between the first, second and third pressings. As promised the pixellation problem with the cover is fixed with this latest pressing. But the image is zoomed in more and adjusted properly, which was most likely the root of the problem with the pixellation found on the second pressing. It was clear the artwork was just enlarged from the CD booklet and scaled up to fit an LP jacket. I have a copy of the CD, and for this third pressing the lines of the artwork matches up with the CD booklet. The artwork chosen for this album is taken from an actual photograph, so whoever actually designed the artwork layout for the LP version just enlarged the photograph, showing more of the image than originally intended.

One issue with this third pressing is that the records themselves definitely feel lighter than the second pressing. The difference is very noticeable, and was the first thing I noticed after taking out the records. This was later proven by someone on a message board, who actually weighed the records from both pressings, discovering that the third pressing weighs between 20 grams less than the second pressing.


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