I finally got around to picking up The Killers’ sophomore album, Sam’s Town. The first and second pressings were pressed as a picture disc, and it starts the trend of the bulk of Killers vinyl releases being pressed as picture discs, mainly their singles. Prior to this album they released zero picture discs.
Pressing info was never released for either the first or second pressing, but all of The Killers vinyl releases are getting harder to find. They may be close to going out of print. But in 2016 some of their albums started getting re-pressed. Sam’s Town comes housed in a picture disc sleeve and comes with a fold out poster that doubles as liner notes.
There is some confusion as to whether or not there are actually two different pressings of Sam’s Town. I am leaning towards two separate pressings based on the time frame of when they were released. What I am dubbing the first pressing, and is featured here, has a black rim around the edge of the picture disc. These were the first batch released in 2006. Some years later, not exactly sure when, copies with a red rim started popping up. The matrix numbers, bar codes and all other identifying marks are the same between the black rim and red rim copies. Both variants also come with the same packaging, poster and hype sticker.
To commemorate the 10th Anniversary of Sam’s Town, Bong Load Records released a special 10th Anniversary pressing of the album in 2016. It was pressed as a double LP on 180 gram black vinyl mastered at 45 rpm, housed in a hardcover book packaging. There were 5,016 copies pressed, all individually numbered on the back cover. two exclusive bonus tracks are part of the 10th Anniversary edition; “Peace Of Mind” and “Read My Mind (Pet Shop Boys Stars are Blazing Mix).” If it wasn’t obvious enough Pet Shop Boys did that remix of “Read My Mind.” There is no download code included because this is a licensed release.
This 10th Anniversary edition has alternate artwork. It’s pretty much the same as the original, it has the same girl on the original artwork only in a different pose, wearing a dress and in front of a different backdrop. The ram is no longer featured in this version’s artwork.
The records themselves slide into pages inside the book, with those pages being essentially dust sleeves made out of card stock. All the pages inside the book are actually made of the same material. I have also included picture of the binding as well, which is done the same way as those oversized children’s pop up books. The packaging is nicely done, but there should be more to it. It’s just the cover, literally six pages inside the book of completely meaningless, frivolous space wasting filler. There should have been far more substance inside the book. Something like a note from the band, an in depth story or interview about the recording process, a reflection of what the band was going through during this time frame or the history of the band around this time, or even never before seen photos would’ve made this set far nicer. But for whatever it’s worth, Bong Load includes a label sticker with all orders, which is pictured below.
Many people are complaining about sound quality, and there are also complaints about smudging and scuffs on the records. I checked out my copy and there are only marks on the second LP, my first LP is fine. This re-press doesn’t sound stellar, even with it being mastered at 45 rpm and being pressed on 180 gram vinyl. It’s a little muddled and the mix isn’t right either as the vocals overshadow the music on some tracks while they are drowned out by the music on other tracks. Some tracks are softer too, with others being louder. Even after adjusted the tracking and skate on my turntable, it makes no difference. After hearing the complaints I feared the worst, especially considering the price of this set; $45 before shipping for a total of $54 after shipping. Paid for expedited 2-3 day shipping, Bong Load sent it media mail. But hey, I guess those “custom made” mailers are expensive and are the reason for the $8 and change shipping.
Those aren’t the only questionable moves Bong Load made with this release. They released the pressing in small batches. They put it up for pre-order but held back many copies to sell after it was released/shipped in early October. At some point they cut off pre-orders, making it appear as if it sold out. The only reason to do this is because it didn’t sell well and/or to drive up excitement for the release by making people buy it thinking it sold well so they should buy a copy before it sells out again. Supply and demand, but when you artificially control the supply to make false demand, it’s a business/sales tactic I don’t agree with.
Each batch, (released two after pre-order closed/record was released as of posting this), sold out in under 20 minutes. But I have no clue how many copies were available in each batch. The first batch sold out in 18 minutes according to Bong Load, while the second batch lasted about half that time (I checked 11 minutes after it was put up for sale and it sold out, so it could’ve sold out faster than that), so their ‘release in small batches’ system clearly works.
Bong Load also “hand selects” indie record stores to distribute their releases to. That is fine, it’s their right to choose who sells their releases if they opt not to go with the traditional distribution route. But for people nowhere close to any of those “hand selected” record stores it’s not the fairest shake. And a fair shake is all I ask for. On top of that, most of the stores who got copies of this re-press marked it up at least $5. Understandable on their part but still not an easy pill to swallow. Some stores were even shadier though and marked it up to $75, when this release cost $45 from Bong Load.
I didn’t pre-order this because of the price tag mentioned above, and also because of the label’s name. To be honest I never heard of Bong Load before, and their name doesn’t exactly instill trust. On top of that, I try not to pre-order anything anymore for a multitude of reasons. The fact that Bong Load pulled the pre-order made the decision not to buy it even easier. It eliminated any temptation. But after the 10th Anniversary Edition started shipping and I listened to Sam’s Town more and more, it made me want it. Even more so after seeing the insane prices people were paying for this set. Not that I would flip this, but if I ever decided to sell my entire collection this release would clearly appreciate in value and pay for itself. Basically it made the price point I didn’t like before a bit easier to swallow. And I felt if I didn’t buy it during one of Bong Load’s small batch releases I would regret it.