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Thread started 02/18/19 2:21am

paraded

Remixed vs Remastered Reissues

I've been listening to the 2017 Sgt Pepper's Deluxe Edition, which was given a fresh mix by Giles Martin, the son of Beatles producer George Martin. It's a fascinating experience because the album sounds so much more modern in its balance of instruments and vocals, and yet it's all the same music, same instruments, same voices I've always loved. I don't necessarily think the new mix sounds better, BUT it certainly provides more of an immediate "wow" than the original mix.

As we contemplate future reissues of Prince's work, it occurs to me that these new remasters we all seek may not be all we need. I'd argue we might more enjoy something akin to what they did for this Pepper Deluxe, where they provided a new MIX that allows the instruments to pop out much more. Of course it's a balancing act -- there's no Prince here to dictate how it should sound, and any departure from his intentions (whatever those were) will create uproar. However, for Prince's music to continue to find a wide audience, I do believe there's a certain sonic quality to these new Pepper mixes that will wrap in many who may have said "oh, that sounds old."

So in my dream of dream worlds, there would be deluxe reissues with both a remaster of Prince's original mix, and a new mix by one of the great producers of the world -- someone like Giles Martin or of that ilk -- who would give a modern interpretation. I'm not talking adding any new sounds at all -- just going through the balance to give each song more depth and image (rather than volume). I feel many of the 80s albums, particularly 1999, Purple Rain, and Sign O the Times could benefit from this.

Over time, there's the danger these "interpretations" become indistinguishable in the eyes of many from Prince's original. But I'd argue more people will be drawn in, and will seek out the original mix as a result. The hardest part is that, unlike the Beatles, it would be very hard to find anyone truly connected to Prince enough to ensure this was done right. But I still feel it should be considered some day.

Prince's original mixes are uniquely his, and they are the ones I fell in love with. But I don't think it needs to be "either/or" here. There's room for a new, loving and respecful interpretation.

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Reply #1 posted 02/18/19 3:40am

BartVanHemelen

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paraded said:

I've been listening to the 2017 Sgt Pepper's Deluxe Edition, which was given a fresh mix by Giles Martin, the son of Beatles producer George Martin. It's a fascinating experience because the album sounds so much more modern in its balance of instruments and vocals, and yet it's all the same music, same instruments, same voices I've always loved.

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This new mix was done for a reason: https://www.rollingstone....rs-121092/

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Martin observes in his liner notes: “The original Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was primarily mixed as a mono album. All care and attention were applied to the mono LP, with the Beatles present for all the mixes. … Almost as an afterthought, the stereo album was mixed very quickly without the Beatles at the sessions. Yet it is the stereo album that most people listen to today.” In other words, popular music’s most elaborate and intricate creation – and one that helped end the mono era – wasn’t made to be heard in stereo.

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As we contemplate future reissues of Prince's work, it occurs to me that these new remasters we all seek may not be all we need.

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Nobody said so. But getting those would be at least a start, and a long overdue re-view of the source material.

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I'd argue we might more enjoy something akin to what they did for this Pepper Deluxe, where they provided a new MIX that allows the instruments to pop out much more.

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Again, that new mix was done to make the stereo mix closer to the original mono mix. Instead look at the 2013 remix of Nirvana's In Utero or the 2018 version of David Bowie's Never Let Me Down as radical re-inventions of the original albums.

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A proper remastering could already significantly enhance the 1980s classics without any remixing.

© Bart Van Hemelen
This posting is provided AS IS with no warranties, and confers no rights.
It is not authorized by Prince or the NPG Music Club. You assume all risk for
your use. All rights reserved.
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Reply #2 posted 02/18/19 4:09am

paraded

BartVanHemelen said:

paraded said:

I've been listening to the 2017 Sgt Pepper's Deluxe Edition, which was given a fresh mix by Giles Martin, the son of Beatles producer George Martin. It's a fascinating experience because the album sounds so much more modern in its balance of instruments and vocals, and yet it's all the same music, same instruments, same voices I've always loved.

.

This new mix was done for a reason: https://www.rollingstone....rs-121092/

.

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Nobody said so. But getting those would be at least a start, and a long overdue re-view of the source material.

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I'd argue we might more enjoy something akin to what they did for this Pepper Deluxe, where they provided a new MIX that allows the instruments to pop out much more.

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Again, that new mix was done to make the stereo mix closer to the original mono mix. Instead look at the 2013 remix of Nirvana's In Utero or the 2018 version of David Bowie's Never Let Me Down as radical re-inventions of the original albums.

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A proper remastering could already significantly enhance the 1980s classics without any remixing.

Thanks for the info. I was aware the new Pepper mix was done for that reason. I've listened to the recut Mono version many times along with this new Stereo version and think the Stereo blows it away. My point being, that while something might be done for a certain intention, in this case to get close to the mono feeling, it's the effect that matters most. In Utero has always sounded great to me, and the remix sounds great too. But the Purple Rain remaster sounds to me just like the original but louder. If you turn the volume to a low level, it's hard to hear anything new or more alive, whereas this new Sgt Pepper is a revelation compared to the old stereo. My main concern is that we end up with more loud remasters with extremely subtle actual improvements. I agree it's a start no matter what, and have huge respect for the great mastering engineers who truly add magic to albums. But in Prince's case, some of the those 80s albums -- especially 1999 and SOTT -- have always cried out for a new mix. Of course they work already in a fuzzy, grungy sense, and I have no doubt a remaster could enliven those qualities. But the possibility for a greater separation of the instruments has always tantalized me. I'm sort of ashamed to admit it, given how great they are already. And I don't want to get greedy. But I can dream...

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Reply #3 posted 02/18/19 6:39am

BartVanHemelen

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paraded said:

But the Purple Rain remaster sounds to me just like the original but louder.

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Because it was done by a know-nothing who most likely simply wrung the HD tracks version of PR through some crappy software. That wasn't a proper remaster.

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But in Prince's case, some of the those 80s albums -- especially 1999 and SOTT -- have always cried out for a new mix.

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Mastering already can work miracles. I recall reading an interview with an engineer who specialised in mastering and he explained that even at that stage a recording could still be significantly re-interpreted depending on mastering, e.g. more upfront vocals, a shift from a rockier album to a funkier album etc.

© Bart Van Hemelen
This posting is provided AS IS with no warranties, and confers no rights.
It is not authorized by Prince or the NPG Music Club. You assume all risk for
your use. All rights reserved.
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Reply #4 posted 02/19/19 12:24am

databank

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I think remixing is already getting too far in reinterpreting the artist's original intention. Compare the "official" mix of NC2U to the original unreleased Family version to see what I mean. Mixes were approved by Prince and Prince wasn't an audiophile, but that's how he wanted them and we certainly shouldn't tinker with that. You go down that road and you end-up editing Tony M out of D&P.

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It could be argued that it's the same with masters but IDK that Prince meddled with that a lot: I don't think Bernie Grundman's work had to be "approved", I guess Prince just entrusted him to do what he had to do. Prince apparently considered a song finished once mixed, not once mastered. More generally, it seems to be the consensus in the music world that remastering a recording isn't considered altering the artist's work, while remixing definitely is.

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Experiments such as Never Let Me Down 2018, Dreams Of Freedom or Panthalassa will probably be made sooner or later, I'm not too much in favor of it when it comes to Prince but I assume no one believes those Bowie, Marley and Davis records were made in their respective lifetimes, and they are not likely to replace the original recordings in most people's music collections. But remixing a record in order to improve the audio is entirely different: except the most hardcore fans, most casual listeners would be unable to tell they don't have the original version, and you run the risk of the remix replacing the original on the long run.

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It's already happened with records by other artists that have been tinkered with by labels (or sometimes the artists themselves) after the original releases, or certain bootlegs altered by fans: the original is nearly impossible to find in some cases, whether legally or illegally, and everyone has the tinkered version while most people are unaware of it. In that case there's no more "either/or".

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As the OP said, we're here because we fell in love with Prince's music the way it was made in the first place. I don't believe we need it "improved" or made "more modern" any more than we need some producer to "finish" his most barebone demos before they are released. In the end, my belief is that Prince's catalogue is not about us, it's not about the listener's comfort, and we have no moral rights to ask for it to be altered in order to improve our listening experience (and the Estate has no moral right to alter it for commercial reasons either, even if they're legally entitled to do it). Prince's music is about Prince's music. Take it or leave it, but leave it alone. I realize I'm a purist and not everyone has to agree, but that's my take on the subject.

A COMPREHENSIVE PRINCE DISCOGRAPHY (work in progress ^^): https://sites.google.com/...iscog/home
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Reply #5 posted 02/19/19 2:53am

BartVanHemelen

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databank said:

I assume no one believes those Bowie, Marley and Davis records were made in their respective lifetimes, and they are not likely to replace the original recordings in most people's music collections.

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The new NLMD is a lot better than the original one, and Bowie had already remixed one of its tracks for a compilation some years ago and had discussed "redoing" the album. In the end, the original version is still there.

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However, (re)mastering is still an interpretation of the source material. Remasters from the 1990s for instance tend to sound different than later remasters, because the audio aesthetics of the 1990s are different than current ones.

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Also: http://www.realhd-audio.com/?p=1612 .

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A flat master is the mix as delivered by the artist, producer and mixing engineers. In the past, it was a 1/4″ stereo analog tape at 15 ips (on rare occasions it might a 30 ips master). This is the master that the artist approved. It gets handed over to the mastering house and processed for whatever delivery format is to be included in the project’s release. This might be a vinyl LP, an analog cassette CD or iTunes…or now a high-resolution download website. The processing for each of these formats is different.

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[...]

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In preparing a flat master for release on vinyl, the mastering engineer makes alternations to the flat master in order to accommodate the technical limitations of vinyl. He specifically mentioned the regular need to collapse all frequencies below a certain frequency into mono. This is done to prevent the large low frequency undulations from causing the cutting head to move into negative space…above the surface of the lacquer master disc. You don’t have to do this for a CD release…the two channels are complete discrete (not so on vinyl LPs…this is the crosstalk specification).

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Also: https://forums.stevehoffm...er.227259/ .

© Bart Van Hemelen
This posting is provided AS IS with no warranties, and confers no rights.
It is not authorized by Prince or the NPG Music Club. You assume all risk for
your use. All rights reserved.
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