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What’s your take on reissues/remasters/audiophile blah blah blah

Bip
What’s your take on reissues/remasters/audiophile blah blah blah
July 12, 2023 09:58PM
Folks, I get sick of it. Maybe because albums keep coming out in ‘30 year anniversary editions’ or whatever… but for me personally, ENOUGH!

The album came out sounding like it sounded. We either loved it or not, but heard it for what it was. Does anyone REALLY care if they were able to ‘clean up the snare drum sound’ or ‘bring out Jim bob’s harmonies’ or whatever 30 years later?

I am not at all opposed to releasing previously unheard tracks from an album cycle. And it’s not about what Taylor swift is doing with her catalog. It’s about fiddling with a classic (or just established) album because it pleases geeky sound engineer perfectionists.

Agree, disagree, or am I just being a jerk to geeky sound engineer perfectionists?
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Re: What’s your take on reissues/remasters/audiophile blah blah blah
July 13, 2023 12:35AM
They're a way to get people to buy physical media of the same album over and over again, in the age of streaming.

The new 4-album box set of the Dream Syndicate's DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES is a reminder how great the original album and their first ep were. But the 2 CDs' worth of bonus material are pretty disposable: rehearsal demos of studio jam sessions and unfinished songs, two good but murky and not terribly groundbreaking live shows of their set around this time. Strangely, it includes only two songs from the excellent live-in-the-studio THE DAY BEFORE WINE AND ROSES, although the album is out of print and it sounds much better. I hope it introduces a new audience to the album, but the disc of demos really scrapes the bottom of the barrel. Decades after the concept of the box set reissue, there are only so many table scraps out there, especially for well-known artists.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 07/13/2023 12:49AM by steevee.
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Re: What’s your take on reissues/remasters/audiophile blah blah blah
July 13, 2023 09:51AM
Bless you for bringing up this topic, Bip! I think our great friend steevee Is correct that the labels want us to buy the same thing over and over again.

Although I admire Steven Wilson, I have zero interest in his remixes of classic albums by King Crimson, Yes, Roxy Music, Ultravox, etc. I saw a copy of Wilson’s revision of Rage in Eden at a record shop when Mrs. C and I were vacationing in May. Of course, the new disc lacked “The Voice” and “I Remember (Death in the Afternoon),” which are my two favorite tracks on the record! I understand that this was due to the loss of the masters for those songs, but—if no one could locate them—the album should have been left the hell alone. I realize I’m being a reactionary here, but going back to forty or fifty year old albums to fool around with them strikes me as decadent.

As a rule, I also have very little interest in listening to demos. (There are exceptions—Tubeway Army’s The Plan immediately springs to mind.) There are, as well, records that I dearly wish sounded better--I’ve prattled about this before--but what’s done is done.

Turning to the cinema, I was initially all for Francis Ford Coppola reinstating 49 minutes cut from the original release of Apocalypse Now in 1979. This film is an American masterpiece. But now, decades later, Coppola’s decided that, of those 49 restored minutes, twenty of them needed to be removed for his so-called Final Cut. So why were they reinstated in the first place? Enough already! Thank heaven Jean Cocteau never tinkered with his Orpheus trilogy.
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Re: What’s your take on reissues/remasters/audiophile blah blah blah
July 13, 2023 10:34AM
I don't necessarily like tinkering with greatness, unless something was truly hidden or muddy in the mix and makes the songs seem brighter and in the end better. But I will say that listening to digital files in hi-res with a decent DAC, amp and speakers is mind blowing compared to a typical CD on a stereo system. You just hear the entirety of the song as it was intended instead of everything crammed in a box to fit on a CD platter. My early college years were spent listening to cassette tapes of those precious REM first few releases. To now hear Chronic Town, Murmur, Reckoning etc in hi res is just crazy. But I definitely hear you, there are some albums on the services I have that have 5-6 versions of the same album, all various mixes!
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Re: What’s your take on reissues/remasters/audiophile blah blah blah
July 13, 2023 12:52PM
I generally shun the remasters and special-edition reissues, because (A) they're always expensive as hell; (2) I'm not keen on hearing a remixed version of an album that I loved the first time around; (c.) my experience has been that most of the out-take tracks, demos, "special" mixes and other ephemera included in those extra discs really aren't worth the bother; and (iv) with only a few exceptions, the records that I've owned for 40+ years -- even the ones I bought at the used-record stores -- still are in good shape.
Re: What’s your take on reissues/remasters/audiophile blah blah blah
July 14, 2023 06:48PM
I'm much less annoyed by these super deluxe album reissues now because virtually all of them end up on streaming services, and that's a great place to have them. It's even better if you have a library that gets them because that's basically what they are - library references you'd check out once in a while or perhaps study if it's an album you're really interested in exploring. There's a lot of academic value in that.

On the other hand, the whole remix fad that's now baked into this reissue model is ridiculous. To be fair, there were occasions in the past where it was understandable, like for music that was never mixed into stereo (The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds) or when the original mix had problems and a "better" one was welcome. As long as the original mix was still equally available, I was fine with that. But now everything that hits an anniversary gets remixed simply because they want a "new" product to sell, and it's usually done in the context of a big box set.

I've never bothered with any of the Beatles box sets for that reason, and they're my favorite band. To be fair, I think all of those box sets usually have two CD's of outtakes, alternates, demos, etc. that are actually good listening (in the case of the White Album, three CD's), and if they had released those on their own for like $20 or $30, I probably would have bought them. Instead, they're in these bloated, over-priced box sets (maybe $100 for the CD edition alone, a few hundred for the vinyl edition) where they managed to inflate the price by 1) including a worthless remix of the album and 2) spreading everything out so that every CD is half empty or in the case of the "EP" disc, only 15 minutes long.

If you really covet these super deluxe sets, don't ever buy them when they come out. Nearly all of them crash in price within several years, often from retailers, but you'll also find used editions in great shape at bargain prices.

As a Springsteen fan, I ended up getting all the box sets for Born to Run, Darkness and The River. (Amusingly, they get exponentially bigger and bigger with each set.) The first one I got used for $10 on Discogs (worth it only for the concert DVD), the second was a gift, and the third was $30 brand-new because some retailers sold a ton of them on clearance. Those last two have a lot of good extras, so at a modest price (or as a gift), they were worth it.

I also got Prince's three deluxe album reissues which in similar fashion grew exponentially with each set. The first was less than $20 when it was discounted the week it came out (not really a box set, more like a jewel case-sized wallet). 1999 was maybe $30 though it's now OOP and amazingly people have paid $200 for it. Sign O' the Times was a luxury - I paid more than $100 for it, but it's one of my favorite albums. All three are loaded with good stuff thanks to Prince's prolific nature.

I also got The Who Sell Out for $50 on clearance, the only Who box set I bothered with and by far the only one that seems worthwhile due the related and available material. Even the elaborate packaging seems appropriate given the nature of the album.

(I'm also a huge Dylan fan, so I do have several Bootleg Series box sets, but that's a whole other thing.)

Otherwise, these are the only album box sets I've gotten, seven in total, and I bought only one of these for anything approaching the hefty list price.

Re: Raw Power, my introduction was the 1997 remix which was horribly mastered when it was first released. (There's a whole article about that somewhere, but it was really egregious. It was considered the worst mastered CD ever released by a wide margin, at least until Metallica released something worse.) It wasn't properly mastered until decades later, and that's the version I listen to. I've never developed an attachment to the original mix, and I'm not a fan of listening to multiple mixes, just as I'm not a fan of watching different cuts of the same movie, so the 1997 mix remastered in 2012 with all the dynamics intact is the version I enjoy.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/14/2023 06:52PM by belfast.
Re: What’s your take on reissues/remasters/audiophile blah blah blah
July 14, 2023 07:27PM
I already owned a dozen Dylan bootlegs before the official bootleg series, and unfortunately, they've often recycled or simply expanded upon earlier bootlegs. If you've heard several albums worth of BLOOD ON THE TRACKS outtakes, a full set of them doesn't seem all that appealing (even if the sound quality is improved, the liner notes are worth reading, etc.) After the first few years, that series seems most valuable for directing attention to overlooked parts of his career (SELF-PORTRAIT, the Christian years).

Similarly, one of the high points of Columbia's official series of Miles Davis bootlegs is a live album from the '80s. His studio work from that era is pretty compromised, but live, he still had it, playing hard funk with a new Prince influence.

A 2021 reissue of Nico's DRAMA OF EXILE came up with a complete set of demos which are actually much better than the official album, performed in an unusual style of Middle Eastern-influenced post-punk. Digging through the new Dream Syndicate box set, the live album recorded in Tuscon in 1982 really is something worth preserving. It's far more abrasive than any of their studio work (or the other live album in the box), sounding like a jam band inspired by WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT, free jazz and minimalist music.

But for artists like the Beatles or Who, I wonder how much worthwhile unheard material could possibly be left.
Re: What’s your take on reissues/remasters/audiophile blah blah blah
July 14, 2023 08:48PM
I feel like that's been an ongoing debate with Dylan releases, but I actually appreciate getting previously bootlegged stuff in master tape quality. I'm probably in the minority and I realize the one good thing about discovering Dylan late in his career is missing the frustrations people had with bootlegs, from their quality to the expense and unavailability. (The official Bootleg Series was well under way by the time I was listening to Dylan.) I was actually stingy about buying the Bootleg Series material for a while, but now that Dylan's camp is saying we're near the end, I've picked more of them up. There is a bit of redundancy, especially if you have the initial Vol. 1-3 box set release or Vol. 7: No Direction Home but I'm finding most of the earlier two-CD volumes for as little as $5 on the used market.

I actually skipped the evangelical years and the '80s box sets. I had a lost school year where all I listened to was Dylan, and it eventually sank in that I was missing great artists delivering their A game in real time while wasting hours listening to mediocre records that even Dylan didn't care about when he recorded them. I think I gave away about 50 CD-R's of Dylan bootlegs as a result, including nearly every show I had from 1979 to 1981. I still have a four-disc box set I made for myself (I was that insane) titled The Gospel According to Bob Dylan which had the final Fox Warfield show (arguably the high point of that era) and what was then the one complete Toronto show from April 1980, but I can barely get through those now. I eventually made one 80 minute CD-R of his evangelical-era highlights, and while it's highly enjoyable, it's really the only music I'd want to revisit from that time. It's a similar situation with the post-Shot of Love and pre-Oh Mercy era - I can piece together an Infidels album I actually like, I really like the three-song Late Night performance from March 1984, and there's four tracks I like from the Empire Burlesque sessions, but that's it.

There's a Who's Next box set coming this fall if all goes well. Some say it may be the best box set yet, but I doubt there will be many surprises. If it's a godsend, it'll be for releasing stuff that fans have been more or less aware of like the complete Civic Auditorium show from 1971 and more Lifehouse songs done by the full band. I can see more worthwhile shows from the band, especially if they dig up more film or video of decent quality - you never know - but if you look closely at the track lists on some of these box sets, you'll notice so much of it has already been released. The box sets can be more of handy way of getting them all in one place, in the correct mixes and in the best audio quality. Same with the Beatles, which to me isn't a bad thing, but again, if I want a CD of the Escher demos and two CD's of White Album outtakes (many of which were already on Anthology 3 ) I'm not going to pay $300 for them. That's the retail price of the CD box set, which includes the mono mix I already have in the mono box set and a worthless new stereo mix.
Re: What’s your take on reissues/remasters/audiophile blah blah blah
July 15, 2023 12:49AM
"A 2021 reissue of Nico's DRAMA OF EXILE came up with a complete set of demos which are actually much better than the official album, performed in an unusual style of Middle Eastern-influenced post-punk. "

Ok, now THAT sounds cool. Love Nico, but never bought "Drama of Exile." Never cared for what I heard, but those demos sound intriguing. Thanks for the tip, steevee.
Re: What’s your take on reissues/remasters/audiophile blah blah blah
July 13, 2023 02:20PM
Agree with all of the above. The only time this is really warranted is when an album sounded crappy, and some restoration was actually needed. Tho the only time this made a difference to me that i can recall off the top of my head was with "LAMF" by the Heartbreakers. Hearing the good version was a major revelation.

This restoration technique was tried with "Raw Power," but I never did get around to listening to that one. Ira (and others) said it didn't really change their perception of the album.
Re: What’s your take on reissues/remasters/audiophile blah blah blah
July 13, 2023 03:51PM
Agree with the consensus about Raw Power. I have both the original and the remix, and there's little to justify the latter. In fairness, there's nothing about the remix that's awful either.

I haven't heard the remix/reissue of Rock for Light. The original mix could benefit from more bass, but from what I've read about the reissue, I'm inclined to stick with the Bad Brains I've already got ... not to mention the album.
Re: What’s your take on reissues/remasters/audiophile blah blah blah
July 13, 2023 04:23PM
"I'm inclined to stick with the Bad Brains I've already got ... not to mention the album."

Ba-dump tish!
Bip
Re: What’s your take on reissues/remasters/audiophile blah blah blah
July 13, 2023 06:53PM
I envision in a couple years someone releasing a deluxe remastered Reed’s “metal machine music” for its 50th anniversary.

“We found 48 minutes more!!”
Re: What’s your take on reissues/remasters/audiophile blah blah blah
July 13, 2023 07:43PM
You laugh, but:
[trouserpress.com]
Re: What’s your take on reissues/remasters/audiophile blah blah blah
July 13, 2023 08:56PM
Zeitkratzer's orchestral adaption of METAL MACHINE MUSIC could be added as a bonus album.
Re: What’s your take on reissues/remasters/audiophile blah blah blah
July 13, 2023 10:10PM
I heard they uncovered a take from Metal Machine Music that Lou strived all his life to keep buried. One portion of it includes Lou repeating, over and over, "Number ten ... number ten ... number ten ..."
Re: What’s your take on reissues/remasters/audiophile blah blah blah
July 15, 2023 06:36AM
I don't mind re-issues of albums if they are remastered well, especially if they remastered the b-sides/rare mixes that were added to it. However, the quality of the remastering varies widely...for instance, the 2003 remastered Police albums were hardly noticeable from the originals (I was quite disappointed and decided not to buy them). I was impressed with the Rush re-issues, even though many of them were recorded in all-digital (allegedly, the classification system for recordings can be misleading, a DDD record might have analog mixes within the recording themselves). Certain Cocteau Twins albums also benefitted greatly from remastering; Head Over Heels and Blue Bell Knoll come to mind. It's a crapshoot, so I don't buy them, even in limited- edition vinyl.

On the subject of vinyl, I never really collected any albums on vinyl...I had a few 45's in the late 70's/ early 80's, but the cassette became the medium of choice in the early 80's for me, especially with the invention of the Walkman (at that age, I valued portability over quality of sound, I wouldn't become an audiophile until the early 90's). The only vinyl album that has survived the years is a used copy of The Dream Academy's first album.

I'm also not impressed with all the live album re-issues either, they are not swiping 20 bucks out of my pocket for maybe one or two cuts that improve or expand on the original songs, the sound quality on many of them are dubious to say the least.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 07/15/2023 06:42AM by Fleeingbandit.
Re: What’s your take on reissues/remasters/audiophile blah blah blah
July 15, 2023 12:52PM
The original Police CD’s were actually done well so even though they’ve been remastered for CD several times, I generally stick with those. (The remasters generally add compression and more treble to varying degrees, neither of which is an improvement to me, just the opposite.)

I get mastering gear has improved over time, but when a record or CD has already been mastered just right, there’s only so much room for improvement. I think 90% of the time when there’s a remaster of an album I already have, I find it’s not an improvement and pass on it unless there’s a lot more to it than a new mastering. Maybe that’s another reason for the misguided remix craze, just to have something that sounds more different?
Re: What’s your take on reissues/remasters/audiophile blah blah blah
July 15, 2023 08:35PM
Agree with Belfast about the Police reissues. One of the best things about their first three albums is the mixing -- the way it leaves space between the instruments. In fairness, I can't say I've heard those re-issues, but given the trend toward increased compression to make the music "louder," I don't see any reason to explore them.
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