Title: Trials Of Eyeliner
A 10 CD collection, ranging from 1979 to 2016, this collection has been created, in conjunction with Almond himself, as a definitive overview of the man’s career. There are 189 tracks stuffed onto these discs with Neal X, Almond’s longstanding writing partner/musical director (and former Sigue Sigue Sputnik guitarist) being personally involved in the mastering of the same.
Being 10 discs wide, there is room to play around with the content a tad. Hence, the set is divided into three sections. History takes up four of the discs, including 72 of Almond’s own favourite album tracks and B-sides.
After that is the section known as Singles, which spans three discs. These follow the Soft Cell, Marc with The Mambas and Willing Sinners and solo singles.
That leaves three more discs which will be the core of fan interest because they have been titled Gems. So what you have here are fan-only releases, one-off collaborations, soundtrack contributions and, more importantly, 18 previously unreleased tracks that have been sourced from Almond’s own collection.
The entire collection is contained in two, six-page gatefold disc holders within a 240mm-square slipcase. In addition, you receive a book spanning 64 pages featuring many intriguing photographs and art from Almond’s archive.
Mastering quality was variable. I assumed that the sources had a big part to play in this but there appeared to have been little effort to correct such issues. The hit single, Tainted Love, for example was terribly compressed with a high gain that required volume reduction to avoid hearing damage. The later epic track, Jacky improved matters a tad still suffered from excessive peak limiting. Even the archival material suffered from compression issues, creating bright and harsh upper mids with edgy, brittle bass. In audiophile terms, this is a missed opportunity while the artistic content remains excellent…at low volumes.