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Strange Obsessions has long been the holy grail of fervent record collectors worldwide. Rumors have abound that this album had been released in Holland and or that there were a small number of white label test pressings in existence but none of these claims have ever been substantiated. As far as I can ascertain, this is the first time that ten of these tracks have become commercially available anywhere. The fruits of these Chas Chandler sessions had only been previously hinted at with the bands final singles and the track All I Wanna Do Is Rock ‘N’ Roll that appeared on the American only Polydor compilation album Made In Britain.

Looking at this paragraph, there are 2 past perfects: had been released and had only been hinted.

I just would like to know if both past perfects could have been changed in past simple, what would be the change in meaning

I think past perfect is not obligatory in this case because the order of the action is really clear. First you must release the record before having test pressing, same kind of thing for the second one. So is past perfect used to emphasize the release of the record and to make clearer the link between the release and the test pressing?

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"Rumors have abound that this album had been released in Holland ..."

The italicised word should be abounded, third form/past participle.

Had the verb introducing the reported statement been abounded (past simple), then the had been released (past perfect) would not have been a problem; it would have simply been a backshifting of either "has been released" or "was released". However, the introductory verb is present perfect, and thus backshifting is not natural. Either the past simple or the present perfect of the reported verb is possible, released or have been released. As the writer goes on to suggest that people have been trying to substantiate this claim, and perhaps that the attempts to substantiate it have been going on for some time, the release is set in the past, in my opinion. and the past simple is more appropriate.

It seems to me that, by using the past perfect had been hinted at, the writer is placing the hinting at a time prior to the rumoured release in Holland.

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You are right, the perfect is not obligatory. I think the author employs it here because it puts the reader at a 'reference time' at just the point in the past when Strange Obsessions was released: it tries to recreate the excitement which had been building at that time.

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