Thursday, March 31, 2005

When a Remaster Is Not Just a Remaster

In my previous post I discussed the negatives of CD remasters. Even more devilish, however, are remasters that are also remixes. A remaster is usually done from a final mix - all tracks have been finalized into one track, and the compression and limiting is done on that final track. In a remix, however, the artist goes back to the original vocal or instrument tracks and attempts to "improve" them. Sometimes the volume of certain instruments will be raised or lowered. Sometimes an effect, such as reverb, is added or subtracted. Sometimes vocals or instruments are removed, substituted, or re-recorded. The end result is something that is akin to the Star Wars Special Editions - it appears to be the same as the original to the uneducated, but is in fact not the same product at all.

The first disc that my friends and I discovered that this was done to was Ozzy Osbourne's second solo album, Diary of a Madman. A friend of mine bought the latest release of this disc, thinking it was a mere remaster, expecting to get better sound quality. But after a few listens he came to the conclusion that something wasn't quite right. On this disc, the drums and bass were lame!

Scrutinizing the disc booklet revealed that the bass and drums were no longer performed by the original musicans, bassist Bob Daisley and drummer Lee Kerslake. They were, in fact, recently re-recorded by former Suicidal Tendencies bassist Robert Trujillo (now with Metallica), and former Faith No More drummer Mike Bordin. Furthermore, certain aspects of the original album, such as guitarist Rhandy Rhodes's guitar leads, are more prominent, and now have reverb added. What the hell were they thinking?

Research shows that Daisley and Kerslake were busy suing Ozzy for songwriting royalties they were never paid for. In response, Ozzy and Sharon decided to remove them from the latest version of Diary and Ozzy's smash hit Blizzard of Ozz. Way to destroy your best two records, Ozzy. Incidentally, the lawsuit against Ozzy was dismissed, so the two original musicians are now screwed two-fold: not enough compensation for writing some of the most popular metal songs in existence (like "Crazy Train"), and no longer playing on two watershed recordings to boot. The original versions of these CDs are no longer manufactured. Disgraceful.

Two other artists that have performed this surgery on select titles in their back catalog are the metal bands Megadeth and Iced Earth. Look hard for the orginal versions of their albums in used record stores and Ebay, metal fans, because in the new versions, Greedo shoots first. So always check the packaging stickers and CD cases carefully for the magical word remix, then avoid.


Post a Comment

<< Home