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Great songs, terrible mastering
on March 12, 2011
I'm very, very disappointed in the sound quality of this disc -- not because it's in mono, as I usually prefer the original hit mono mixes of songs from the 1960s, but because every track on here has been "brickwalled," or severely compressed, to increase their overall loudness. I've been waiting for a collection of this material for decades... but I doubt I'll ever listen to this disc again. It's that bad. I'm not an audiophile, by any means, but this disc is just irritating to the ears. It is so loud and compressed that there's no dynamic range left in the songs, no ebb and flow to the music, no space between the notes... It's all just one constant, dull roar that becomes incredibly irritating after 10 minutes or so.
Granted, most 45s from the 1960s were compressed to begin with so they'd stand out on AM radio. Previous releases of some of these songs (such as those on the 3-CD "In My Lifetime" boxed set) reflect that same 1960s level of compression and the songs sound great on that release. But in 'remastering' those and other Bang recordings for this new "Bang Years" disc, the creators added an incredible amount of additional compression -- probably as a concession to today's iPod listeners -- that gives every song a hard, brittle and distorted sound.(This added compression, and the accompanying digital clipping, is obvious when you look at any of the tracks in wave form on a computer.)
So, although I love every one of the songs on this disc, I have to give this release a one-star review.
If you want to hear SOME of these same songs in better quality, your options are limited. The "In My Lieftime" box has several of these tracks in their original mono versions and, as stated before, they sound great on that set. Most (but not quite all) of the Bang recordings were released 40 years ago on the "Double Gold" LP from Bang Records. Of course, that album is long out of print and it was never issued on CD. Although "Double Gold" presents some songs in stereo and some in bad "fake stereo," it remains the single best source for most of the Bang-era recordings. The Columbia Records CD, "Classis: The Early Years," sounds fine to me, but it only has 12 of the Bang-era recordings, and most (if not all) are stereo mixes. That CD also has alternate takes of "Shilo" and "Solitary Man" that are quite good but they're slightly different from the hit-single versions most people are familiar with.