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A disappointing Thick As A Brick remix


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Initial post: Dec 3, 2012 3:02:16 PM PST
DKPete says:
I know there are some very mixed reviews on this-and justifiably so. Of all the Steven Wilson remixes I own (the previous Tull release, Aqualung which he did a SUPERB job on, material from King Crimson and ELP), this is the first time I can honestly say I was disappointed...if not downright perplexed.

On the majority of his remix projects, Wilson seemed to go for a somewhat deeper, more spread out sound-and, of course, a lot of "cleaning up" resulting in considerably less clutter (especially in the case of Crimson).

I'm not so sure what Wilson's objective was in his treatment of TAAB. What he has basically done here is reduce the low end, add a LOT of high end and, overall, made for a relatively harsh sounding end product.

I offer these opinions with much consideration to the mix of the original release...not even the MFSL...just the original record on good old regular vinyl...it was quite a well balanced sounding record to begin with. Hence, when I found out that there was a remix in process, I got quite excited in thinking, what's Wilson going to do to improve on an already very good sounding record??

Thoughts?

Posted on Dec 3, 2012 3:21:12 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 3, 2012 4:36:18 PM PST
Steven Wilson did the 2012 mixes of "Tarkus" from Emerson Lake & Palmer (original LP from 1971) and my old ears could hear snatches of electric guitar from Greg and percussion from Carl that were buried in the original mix. That one is quite good and the DVD audio is supposed to be even better. The sound bandwidth (to me) seems to have expanded on that one and Steven did exactly what I look for in a new mix as he doesn't go for loudness and compresed it all into gloop he makes it a bit bigger and brighter.

I have seen the reviews of the new edition (deluxe) version of "Thick as a Brick" and you are not alone about the sound issues on that one Pete as a few other reviewers are not happy with the way that one turned out.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 3, 2012 3:49:03 PM PST
DKPete says:
Philip, I haven't gotten Tarkus yet...but the first ELP album...in a word: breathtaking job. I always thought that the early albums of ELP(honestly, most of them) suffered either from a weak sound or a dirty one or a combination of both (the "combination" applies to much of Brain Salad Surgery). Wilson has taken the debut album into a whole other aural landscape...and very tastefully so. Don't even get me started on the head-turningly improved Aqualung..maybe one of the top ten albums of all time that was in desperate need of an overhaul; Wilson did NOT disappoint.

What's even more frustrating on this new TAAB is that the greater the resolution (the DVD versions...do I have my terminology right..??)) the worse it sounds. Just too damn bright...even a touch of them old "loudness wars" going on here..the CD version that comes with the set is comparitively better.

Posted on Dec 3, 2012 4:32:34 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 3, 2012 4:42:25 PM PST
Pete ~

I'm not supposed to know this but my wife is getting that Deluxe Emerson Lake & Palmer (1st) for me as a Christmas gift and oh, yeah I want to hear that one. "Tarkus" is damn good and I hope Steven does the mix on "Trilogy" as it's my favorite of all the ELP records and I would hope it could sound even better.

Back in the mid-ninties I was in college in Dayton, Ohio and a sound guy told me that a re-mix of audio analogue tape was kinda like pealing layers off of an onion and you want those layers clean (he called it 'wiped' clean) but, you don't want a heavy layer of soap (filters, compression) on them as it will 'cover' natural sounds evident in the recorded tape. The idea as he explained it was if you isolate an acoustic guitar and clean up all the white noise or tape hiss around that instrument it seems to 'grow' and become bigger and brighter without other sounds not natural to the tape pulling it back and doing all of this (remember this was back in 1995) was a slow process as digital equipment still wasn't available in all recording studios back then 17 years ago but, he knew sound and could lay it out so even I knew what he meant and I'm sure if my friend is doing this today on digital boards he is still using the same methods to bring up voices and instruments and I would believe that is just what occurs in a good Steven Wilson remix as he is pealing that onion as well.

Posted on Dec 3, 2012 6:26:41 PM PST
At first he was doing just Crimson, then it was Crimson and Tull, then Crimson ELP and Tull, and isn't he doing his own projects as well? Maybe he is getting overloaded. I heard the two ELP stereo remixes (have not heard the 5.1) and was extremely unimpressed. On the other hand his work on the Crimson albums and on Aqualung was IMO fantastic. I am highly looking forward to Larks Tongues in Aspic although I am pretty peeved that the release date keeps getting pushed back again and again.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 3, 2012 7:05:55 PM PST
onsenkuma says:
DK,
I've raved elsewhere about the great job Steven Wilson has done on the 5.1 mixes of the King Crimson catalog ('Lark's Tongues in Aspic' is the latest release in the batch, and it's a stunner). The two ELP 5.1 mixes are also extraordinary. But, like others I heard audible glitches on my first (and only) play of the TAAB 5.1 mix, and that was from ANOTHER ROOM! So, WTF gives??? Aqualung sounded great, so really: DOUBLE WTF gives???

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 3, 2012 7:25:43 PM PST
DKPete says:
Philip, interesting post; I never heard remixing described so literally.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 3, 2012 7:32:21 PM PST
DKPete says:
onsekuma, Wilson seems very dedicated to his work as well as the fans of it. I'm hoping that at some point he'll get wind of the negative opinions on TAAB and, hopefully, respond to them. I'd be more than a little interested as to whether or not what he's hearing varies from what we are all hearing..or, maybe, in retrospect, he may end up saying that he, himself, wasn't too thrilled with these results.

Posted on Dec 3, 2012 7:40:19 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 4, 2012 7:57:37 PM PST
Grandpa Tom says:
Hi:

This discussion has prompted me to spin TAAB. My cd version is the 25th Anniversary released in 1997 with a slipcase and full newspaper. It sounds just fine to my ears. In fact, with elapsed time of 6:40 or so of the first half, the acoustic guitars just cut in, and sound crisp and clean. I also own an original vinyl copy and may spin it later this week.

I am not a big enough fan of this particular album to buy it again, though I do like it a lot, the version I own is sufficient.

I will comment on a couple issues, and that is Mr. Wilson is human, like all of us. I mean, even Derek Jeter strikes out sometimes. Who knows what happened, and the bigger question about the fuzzed-up DVD mfg process comes front and center.

I thought the booklet included in my Aqualung 2-cd set was less than average quality (very thin and flimsy paper, ragged edges), and some new cd's I've purchased seem thinner and lower quality than average, also. Discussions surrounding questionable mfg quality control of the Beatles' vinyl releases are too numerous to ignore. Maybe shortcuts abound in the corporate offices, and quality control issues are becoming more of an issue with CD, DVD, and vinyl.

Just a Grandpa's thoughts...

GT

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 3, 2012 7:43:21 PM PST
DKPete says:
BFD, we agree to disagree on the ELP remixes (at least as far as the first album goes-I haven't heard Tarkus). As one of those prog-Rock seventies nerds, I remember always complaining consistently about the recorded sound quality of three bands-King Crimson, ELP and Genesis. I always thought there was clutter (often resulting in , what was to me, an annoyingly flat sound) and a consistemnt level of muddiness (especially on the Genesis stuff).

None of the remixes by Wilson (which I've heard) compare to Aqualung. While the ELP remix isn't as impressive, I still hear enough of an improvement to make me want to get into the stuff all over again. Of course, opinions will differ.

Regardless of all that's being said about TAAB, I will continue to look forward to his reworkings of these classic albums...I sure wish someone would hand him the sonic mess known as Chicago II.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 3, 2012 7:50:38 PM PST
Grandpa Tom says:
Pete:

AMEN to your point concerning Chicago II. It's sonics are truly an embarrassment to such a great groups' most important release (IMO).

GT

Posted on Dec 3, 2012 10:44:12 PM PST
There are many things that could go wrong when dealing with old tapes such as these. I haven't heard them myself but Wilson is a perfectionist so I would love to hear any comments he may have about the process.

I'm not a very big fan of Tull so I haven't even checked into these releases but if Aqualung is THAT much improved, I may look into that. The other Tull releases I have from 1997 sound pristine to my ears and I really can't imagine them sounding that much better, so I'll be sticking with those for now. So, I'm with you GT, the acoustic guitars on TAAB '97 remaster sound so pure, crisp and clean.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 4, 2012 3:17:58 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 4, 2012 3:18:20 AM PST
I heard no improvement in the ELP remix, plus I do not care for the replacements for the missing multitracks. My biggest annoyance though (and the principle reason I am not buying that DE of ELP) is not including a hi-res version of the original mix on the DVD when there is plenty of room for it, especially since the ELP DVD-A is only 24/48. There would be plenty of room if all the mixes were 24/96 so what gives.
As for Tarkus if anything the remix is worse as it reveals more thoroughly the editing that went into creating that album. It sounds very disjointed, and again the DVD-A is strictly 24/48.
RE: Chicago II. This album is available on HDTracks in 24/96 FLAC. The samples sounded quite good (and mind you they are being streamed down), but I have not been willing to take the plunge. Still it might be worth looking into.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 4, 2012 10:10:45 AM PST
The Wilson remix of Aqualung is superb, principally because he was able to remix from the original multitracks which still exist. Apparently the original 2 track master mix does not which is why previous CDs of Aqualung have always sounded so weak.
And yes, the other 1997 Tull CDs (I have This Was, Stand Up, and Benefit, and I have heard TAAB) sound superb. I see no reason to replace them.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 4, 2012 10:55:23 AM PST
I learned my lesson with the Stones remasters, which now sit in the closet and the '94 Virgin copies on the CD shelf. Pretty much anything that was recorded in the 90s or remastered then I don't replace for new versions, unless its sonically inferior beyond description, which may be the case with "Aqualung" from what I hear.

...playing the '97 TAAB remaster right now and it sounds amazing..

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 4, 2012 3:07:52 PM PST
DKPete says:
Great posts from everyone here.
BFD, just a quick comment on Chicago II..I, personally, wouldn't place to much hope in the version you mention-the problem with the album is inherent in the mix itself. Any "improved" version of that same mix-if it's a bad mix to start with-will, more likely than not, only bring out the negatives even moreso. It may sound somewhat punchier but, ultimately, the drums will still sound like cardboard boxes.

I don't know much about the format you're talking about so I will ask..this album has always had, among other things, a dirty sounding mix..would this format improve on that in any way?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 4, 2012 3:12:37 PM PST
DKPete says:
Tom , always a pleasure to see you around...the earlier Chicago albums (which, in my opinion, define the band) are the most erratic bunch of sounding records I have ever owned by any one artist/band...I've always been very big on good drum sounds...this is where the second album fails most to my ears.

...how have you been doing otherwise?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 4, 2012 3:18:44 PM PST
DKPete says:
Good To Your Earhole, I played mine, in sections, back to back with the remixed version-this was very easy to do as I swictched very quickly from Cd player to DVD player as the two CD's were spinning at just about the identical spots. I love Steven Wilson for his efforts on these great old albums; I wish there were more guys with his set of ears and ambition out there doing the same (with the approval of the artists, obviously). He just somehow fell short on this one

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 4, 2012 3:36:06 PM PST
DKPete, I have been listening to Chicago II on Spotify and yes, it is an extremely dirty, muddy sounding mix. I checked the samples on ITunes and again same thing. But the samples on HDTracks sound much more clear and with more separation of instruments. The drums have a crisper sound as does the bass. Go to hdtracks.com and check it out and decide for yourself.
I assume you already have some media player/burner that handles FLAC but if not there are some available that are free. They are 24/96 FLAC so even with the standard 50% compression the files will still be fairly large. I would guess you do not have DVD burning software but you can burn the files onto a CD. They will of course be downsampled to 16/44.1 but that would be the same as if you bought a remastered CD in which the original master had been done in 24/96 (the Ram re-issue was done this way). HDTracks is charging 19.98 for Chicago II; if it is worth that to you go for it. If you do get it let me know what you think. I am still debating it. They also have Chicago V on there.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 4, 2012 3:52:30 PM PST
DKPete says:
I definitely intend on giving it a listen and take it from there. Thanks.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 5, 2012 8:40:34 AM PST
Dee Zee says:
The 2002 Rhino reissue i have of Chicago II sounds great. Hmm.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 5, 2012 10:13:03 AM PST
onsenkuma says:
Dee Zee,
@I have the whole Terry Kath lot (except the Carnegie Hall) on Japan 'mini lp' SHM-CD. These are from the Rhino re-masters and I agree: they sound fine. CTA was the band's finest IMO, but I was very into Chicago II and V in particular when they came out. I can't abide anything they did after Kath...

Posted on Dec 5, 2012 10:44:27 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 5, 2012 11:24:07 AM PST
I understand what some are saying about Chi II. The mix on the Rhino remaster is a bit muddy but at least the dynamic range in completely intact. I think sometimes it is best to leave well enough alone as there is no guarantee the remastered remaster will be of any significant improvement and, as we have see here in this thread, it may even be worse. I do consider myself an audiophile to a certain degree and do want the best sound possible but many times the end doesn't justify the means when you keep repurchasing the same title just to get something .0001% clearer.

Melon Collie was just remastered and people are complaining about the song "Zero". My discs from 1995 sound great so I won't be spending my money just to hear it louder when my volume knob still works perfectly. :)

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 5, 2012 3:51:27 PM PST
DKPete says:
Dee Zee...I love you, you know that, right? So there's no other way to say this other than to just say it: No, it doesn't (it's just a "beefed up" version of the awful original mix...whatever sounded bad in the first place, still sounds bad...only..well...beefierly bad).

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 5, 2012 3:54:28 PM PST
DKPete says:
GTYE and all...if Aqualung was made to made the sound it sounds now with that remix, I think there is great hope for vast improvement on Chicago II.
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Discussion in:  Music forum
Participants:  9
Total posts:  46
Initial post:  Dec 3, 2012
Latest post:  Dec 11, 2012

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