CAKE – Vinyl Box Set

Arguably the most wanted release for this year’s Record Store Day. Rumored to be released for quite a while, it was finally confirmed to go out exclusively to stores in the US (and a few in Canada) for Record Store Day 2014. For fans of the alternative trumpet-rockers, CAKE,  this was not just an option to get a bundled version of the band’s discography – it was an option to own half the discography on vinyl for the first time ever. And save a load of money on the few albums that had actually seen a vinyl release (some of them would easily go fo $100 or more). The next two sections will be all background – so if you’re all for the pictures and actual description, just skip those.

I’m going to start with a little background – because there’s been a bit of controversy regarding this release. First off, as mentioned earlier it was released on RSD this year, and a good handful of US and Canadian stores got their handful of the 900 copies that went out to physical records stores. Sadly, more than just a few stores decided that they could easily make an extra buck (or $100) on the release and upped the price way above the $125 they supposedly all had agreed to sell it for – some even sold it for $250. If you read this and paid more than $125 in a physical store – send an e-mail to the band. They can’t refund you, but they’ll do their best to make sure it has consequences.

Second up – a remaining (rumored) 600 copies were to go on sale on their online store and people who’d signed up for the band’s newsletter was meant to be the first to know. It took some time, but an e-mail annoucning that another e-mail with a store link would go up “soon” was sent out. Soon turned out to be a few days, but sooner than the band had planned. Someone in the band’s management figured that it would be a great idea to leak the link for the pop-up store a day early on a few select forums. Thinking that if you tell the people of the internet that they shouldn’t share the link elsewhere, they’ll listen would work, they leaked the link. Within minutes of leaking the link on the forums it was everywhere on the internet, forcing the band to send out the actual newsletter with the link if any sign-ups should have the chance of doing an order. The link was up a few hours before this happened, but as soon as the newsletter went out, the box had sold out in less than 10 minutes. To make matters worse the newsletter didn’t make it out to everyone in time, so by the time most people got it, the box had already sold out. I personally can’t complain about the leak seeing as I came across it on reddit, meaning that I could do an early order. I received the e-mail an hour after the box sold out, so I’m satisfied. Description over – now for the fun part!

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All 8 discs – Motorcade Of Generosity, Fashion Nugget, Prolonging The Magic, Comfort Magic, Pressure Chief, B-Sides & Rarities, Showroom Of Compassion + Live At The Crystal Palace

The box is a nice thick cardboard-ish material, the print on it looks very nice and it feels good and sturdy when I hold it. I have one major point of criticism, though – the opening/closing mechanism. You have to gently lift the top of the box, because the movable part on the back of the box is quite fragile. This means you can’t bend the lid all the way back as well. Sadly, I’ve read about a lot of people having ripped and damaged the box early on, just by handling it as you would expect to. A slip cover solution would’ve been simpler and much more effective in my opinion. That said it holds all the records nicely, they don’t seem too loose in the box, nor too tight – the size is pretty much spot on.

A few general things about the records inside. They all come in cardboard covers with printed inner sleeves. Oddly, the sleeves are made from the same material as the cover, which seems quite rough for something to hold some relatively delicate vinyl records – I can see a few of my copies came with scuffs as well. Fortunately they (mostly) play fine. Can’t say if the scuffs are made by the sleeves or in production, though, and in their favor I have to say that there’s hardly any static nor dirt or “paper dust” on any of the records. CAKE is a very politcally and environmentally active band, so my guess is that they’ve insited on doing the packaging in some sort of easily biodegradable material. They recorded the entire Showroom Of Compassion-album using only solar energy, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they were trying to be all environmental with this box as well.

I’ve seen a few reports on people complaining about small damages on some of their records (some even missing entire discs), and my copy of Motorcade Of Generosity actually had a tiny piece of the outer groove area chipped off – nothing that affects play, but it seems like a sloppy and rushed job. All these things being said, the box overall is nice, and for an 8-album box, the online listing price of $100 is more than reasonable (also taking into consideration that you would have to pay at least $130 to account the box + shipping).

All albums come on a 175g vinyl and despite the seemingly sloppy work the sound quality is actually quite good. Only one of the album has a flat, boring sound and that is only on one side, which seems more like another pressing mishap (although an annoying one). Also I noticed a wavy label on another album to discover that there was an extra label behind it – I could easily pull the extra one off, though. As a final bonus 40 (or 50 depending on sources) lucky buyers will find an autographed test pressing of one of the albums inside the box as well. No such test pressing for me, though – not that I’m complaining about what I got.

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CAKE’s debut album Motorcade Of Generosity – originally released in 1994

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This is CAKE’s debut album, Motorcade Of Generosity, and already here they’re showing pictures of their trademark instrument – the trumpet. It was originally released in 1994 and is one of the few of their albums that has seen previous vinyl releases with the latest being from 2008. That doesn’t mean that it’s easily available, as Discogs revels that all versions have been sold for nearly $100. In this box it comes on very clear yellow translucent vinyl.

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CAKE’s second album, Fashion Nugget – originally released in 1996

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Probably the best known and most popular of all their releases, their 1996 breakthrough album, Fashion Nugget. This one featured a bunch of hits including “The Distance” and their cover versions of Gloria Gaynor’s hit “I Will Survive” and the Desi Arnaz’ English interpretation of Osvaldo Farrés’ “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps”. This one has had a vinyl release as well, but not since its release in 1996 and (of those available) has probably been the hardest one to find on vinyl without having to pay a fortune. In this box it comes on clear, slightly green translucent vinyl.

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CAKE’s third album, Prolonging The Magic – originally released in 1998

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CAKE’s third album, Prolonging The Magic from 1998. Hadn’t heard it before buying the box, so I don’t know much about it. This is the first of their albums that hadn’t seen a vinyl release at all, until now. It comes on a cream/yellow-ish marble, that actually looks really good. Visually, it’s probably my favorite. Sadly this is the one where side a sounds flat, and there’s some noticable pops as well, even though I don’t see any visible scratches or scuffs on the record. The color makes it really hard to spot dust and scuffs on this one, though.

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CAKE’s fourth album, Comfort Eagle – originally released in 2001

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CAKE’s fourth album, Comfort Eagle from 2001 and another album previously unavailable on vinyl. Been listening to this quite a bit on CD over the past years and it comes with a few hits as well – most notably “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” and “Love You Madly”. This one comes on blue translucent swirl. The “swirl” being debatable, as I personally think my copy looks like a few drops of blue was accidentally spilled in the pressing more than a swirl. This bothers me a little as the band posted some pics of some record with amazing swirl-effects, but it does sound good and that is by far the most important.

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CAKE’s fifth album, Pressure Chief – originally released in 2004

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Their fifth album, Pressure Chief, and another one I don’t know much about besides that it was released in 2004. As the last three, this one has never seen the day on vinyl before this box set. This time around the swirl looked a lot better, and it comes on a pink translucent disk with a solid pink swirl. It kinda resembles candyfloss. Apologies about the poor album playlist, but it was all there was. There’s no live versions on the actual album.

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CAKE’s first compilation of B-sides And Rarities – originally released in 2007

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This one is quite interesting. It’s a compilation of B-Sides And Rarities originally released in 2007 and also previously unavailable on vinyl. I had never bothered to look up their B-sides compilation before, but there is some very interesting songs on this. It starts out with a cover of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” (and ends with a live version of it as well – one which isn’t mentioned on the tracklist), and there’s some solid country ballad covers as well, that matches the style of CAKE quite well. Besides cover versions, there’s an instrumental b-side and some live tracks in the end. This one comes on solid red vinyl and probably have received the biggest and most visible scuffs – fortunately none that can be heard.

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CAKE’s sixth album, Showroom Of Compassion – originally released in 2011

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CAKE’s sixth and latest album, Showroom Of Compassion was originally released in 2011. And this one saw nothing less than 3 different vinyl releases, a standard black, a limited red and as a limited 7″ box set, that looks nice, but seems awfully impractical. It was also their first release in 7 years at the time, but didn’t receive much critical acclaim. On here it’s on translucent red vinyl (supposedly similar to the limited 2011-release).

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CAKE’s latest release, the live album Live At The Crystal Palace – released in 2014 along with the box set

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This live album, Live At The Crystal Palace, was released along with the box as a bonus disc. It’s the first release of it as well and it is currently only available on vinyl. The band put a really kick-ass swirled version of it up a while before RSD, but again, my copy just like they accidentally spilled a little black in the clear vinyl. The sound quality is good, but I miss the actual live feel on the album, it seems that it was meant to be recorded for an album more than to be played in front of a crowd which is a shame. That said, I personally think it’s quite alright and the selection of songs is very varied and there’s a bit of everything from throughout their carreer. If you’re interested in this, the band still has a few stand-alone copies of it available on their web store: http://www.theconnextion.com/cake/cake_index.cfm.

Are you one of the many who wasn’t as fortunate as me? Don’t fret – the band has promised to do a second version of the box set. No rumours if it’s going to be similar looking or when it’ll be out, but I would recommend signing up for their newsletter and following their Facebook-page to be updated when there’s news. Sadly there’s no news on whether or not the albums will see individual reissues.

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