Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Genesis ~ The new releases

Genesis had their back catalogue remastered back around 1994 as “Definitive Editions”. These were remastered by Nick Davis, Genesis’s resident engineer. The general consensus was that he had done a good job, replacing the original CD’s which were poor transfers and badly packaged. The packaging for the 90’s remasters was better, but some of the original album artwork wasn’t reproduced. For instance, the “Foxtrot” CD didn’t contain Paul Whitehead’s original inside gatefold artwork at all. All the CD’s in the series had two pages basic of the booklet dedicated to basically advertising all the albums. Waste of space really.

So here we are in 2007 and the whole series is being re-issued again. Well, strictly that’s not true. As what is being released are remixes of all the albums. Nick Davis, who is in charge of these new issues, has stated that the original mixes end with the “Definitive Editions”. The new mixes from the original multitracks don’t replicate the original recordings as such, have been mixed to make them sound what he and the band consider to be the best that the latest technology can offer. The validity of producing different mixes can be argued.

Each album comes as a stereo CD with SACD layer and another disc which is a DVD with 5.1 mix of the album plus video content. The first batch is released next week and covers the period of “Trick of the Tail” through to “Abacab”. Each album is priced at around £16, compared to around £6.99 which the “DE” versions have been going for. As the new issues are to eventually replace the “DE” versions, that’s a whopping price differential for anyone wanting to buy a version of the album. That price is because it is a 2 disc set, but how many people will want the DVD part of the package?

Along with the separate albums, there is to be a 6CD box set also released. This will contain all albums, plus book and 2 discs (CD/SACD and DVD) of non-album tracks, exclusive to the box. So if you want the rare stuff you will need to shell out around £90.

For me, because of the prices involved I will keep my “DE” versions. I would like to hear the new mixes, which will hopefully have better packaging, have the box set book and extra CD but not at that price. I am still not convinced of the logic of releasing CD/DVD packages. For me the DVD disc is redundant. How many people have a DVD set-up that reproduces the surround sound in good quality? I think most people still prefer to hear things in stereo. Formats such as SACD and DVD Dolby Digital 5.1/DTS are still for audiophiles in my opinion. At least SACD can be layered with CD on one disc. It will be interesting to see the reaction to these releases in the coming weeks and months.

Late Start

This blog hasn’t been updated for a long time. A combination of other things to do, illness and lack of enthusiasm. But I would like to keep it going, even though I am not sure if anyone actually reads it.

Musically, the last few months have been a bit quiet. Not many major releases, though I think that is about to change with stuff by Porcupine Tree, Rush, Dream Theater all on the horizon. Re-issues are still being pumped out at a steady, heady pace. We have had Steve Hillage’s and Magazines back catalogue recently. Hillage’s has been co-ordinated by Mark Powell with his usual partner Paschal Byrne at the mastering controls. I think they have done a great job, apart from a few errors and omissions in the sleeve notes. With Steve’s input, enabling interesting bonus tracks to be included well done to all concerned.

Magazine’s re-issue series on the other hand has been a bit lacklustre. The remastering by Abbey Roads Sean Magee is pretty good, but the re-packaging is a bit lacking in inspiration to say the least. Good essays, but the quality of the printing and layout isn’t too good. All done by EMI’s in-house design team. Shame!

In contrast, Sony/Legacy’s re-issue of ELO’s “Out of the Blue” and “Balance of Power” is exceptional. The former in a gorgeous hardback book format, with lots of great artwork, notes and full credits and excellent remastering by Joseph Palmaccio. Similarly upcoming are the last two re-issues by The Moody Blues from their classic period. If they are anything like last years series of remasters they should be pretty good. It is good to see major labels taking care and showing dedication in taking care of their back catalogue.
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