Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Rewind and remaster

As a ploy to get you buying the same music you've owned for years it works. Bonus Tracks! Previously Unreleased! New Sleeve Notes! Deluxe Packaging! Feels Nice! Looks Worth the Money! Makes Your Collection Complete! Everyone Will Think You Are Such a Music Buff! One More Exclamation Mark For Added Effect!

Actually, a classic album needs at least one remastered version. Some albums, especially 80's ones, sound like they were recorded in a vat of Country Born hair gel. And CD quality from ten years or more ago has the volume turned all the way up to 1. Listening to the remastered version of Prefab Sprout's Steve McQueen felt like having your ears syringed it was that different. Thomas Dolby, the original producer, was at the helm of the remastering saying: "It sounds INSANELY good. Many writers and music afficionados list this among their top LPs of all time, and listening to it for the first time in years, I have to agree".

Despite all the great music and good intentions, gorgonzola-level writing in the sleeve notes can sometimes taint an otherwise worthwhile package. And it usually comes as the money sentence at the end: "Sweet Dreams cost about £5000 (in loans) to record... Couldn't you just hug that bank manager now?" and "The Luxury Gap could be sung at a cocktail lounge baby grand... Never mind the price of an extra-dry Martini with a twist. I'd pay top dollar for a table near that piano!" !!!!

The Pet Shop Boys package their remastered albums in a typically PSB style. The fat well-designed booklet has comprehensive interviews about each track which read in real-time whilst listening. Each album is housed within a uniform designed slip cover with a matt finish and a spot-varnished print of the original artwork. See. The description even SOUNDS very PSB. There's a whole album of demos, b-sides and rarities to go with the original too. Definitely one for the fans.

Sometimes, just a simple updating of the sound, a few background notes and at least one decent bonus track would be worth the £5 you'd pay in FOPP. I fell back in love with albums whilst sunning my little old self on holiday: ABC's Lexicon of Love; Groove Armada's Soundboy Rock, Tracey Thorn's Out of the Woods and Pleasure's Pleasure II were all played in track order, no skipping! So today, I wandered into FOPP and picked up the following three remastered albums I've loved and lost... £15, snnnniiiippp!

Favourite album track: The Walk - Eurythmics (mp3 Download)
Bonus Track: Satellite of Love - Eurythmics (mp3 Download)

Favourite album track: The Best Kept Secret - Heaven 17 (mp3 Download)
Bonus Track: Let Me Go (Extended Mix) - Heaven 17 (mp3 Download)

Favourite album track: Entertain Me - Soft Cell (mp3 Download)
Bonus Track: Insecure Me - Soft Cell (mp3 Download) - "It was the morning after the month before and I'm looking like a nose with eyes"


xolondon said...

I am such a sucker for these things. The PSB remasters are pure gold. LOVED the booklets.

The Prefab is very good too and I like the new versions as well.

Having said that, I buy a lot of these, look at them once and put them away. True of my Lloyd Cole and ABC remasters, which were still must haves.

And I plunked down quite a chunk o'change for the Eurythmics ones too.

Phil said...

I was lucky and got the PSB ones as a whole set thanks to a kindly PR, so, consequently, shelling out loads of money feels wrong! I wait until the remasters are mid-price! hehe

I should have posted the phrase, but remastered classic albums are like crack cocaine to us lot!

And BTW, I just KNOW we have all the same remasters... Altered Images' Bite?

xolondon said...

They have a remaster for Bite? That's like TT Darby having one for Vibrator but not Hardline. (not that he has any)

I forgot to say I enjoyed my Friend Or Foe remaster. wheeee.