Early Hendrix

joe.crowe -- Sun, 11/07/2010 - 15:57

Here goes the latest installment in my ongoing observations regarding re-issues of classic material.  I picked up the two disc re-issue of Are You Experienced about a year ago, ordered on-line actually.  This was presented with all the usual hype:  lovingly re-mastered by Jimi's original engineer along with the legendary George Marino, 180 gr HQ vinyl, direct from the original 2-track mixdown, bonus tracks, full color booklet etc., etc.  The only thing missing in the description was printed plainly on the small sticker attached to the shrink wrap "digitally re-mastered".  I guess "bonus tracks", "full color booklet" and a few other things should have tipped me off before ordering but we all have weak moments when it comes to loved ones and considering who was involved I leaped before I looked..  Anyway I gave it a spin because you never know and digital has grown immensely since the industry finally admitted it wasn't perfect, ever.  The record sounds "good", bass lines are very clean and the vinyl is really nice.  Sadly there is a distinct digital character at many points especially on cymbals and when Jimi ventures up to the higher registers.  These issues are mostly minor and could probably be overlooked except for one small point.  George Marino has just done an all-analogue version of the same album.  This one is a single disc, no bonus tracks and a lot less money.  My point is, had I known the 2 disc was digital I probably would have put my money elsewhere and gone looking for a good copy at a second hand store.  Had I known an analogue version was hot on its' heels I would definitly have waited.  I know the clues were there for me especially the bonus tracks but why do vendors and critics seem to make a point of avoiding the "D" word when advertising or reviewing these things when the manufacturers are happy to place a sticker on the plastic ending all speculation.  I notice someone in the Beatlemania Love-in section of the forums mentioned the masters might be in poor shape and unfit for a re-mix unless done digitally.  If that's the case so be it but at least make sure we're getting 192/24 quality throughout right down to the D/A phase.  Somehow I suspect this is often not the case and therefore would be much happier if a way was found to ensure people knew what they were buying before money changed hands.  The old DDD, ADD, and AAD system worked well for CD and even prompted people to start asking why the fewer D's the better the sound leading to improvemts in all formats.  BTW anybody heard the George Marino Analogue job?  Does this issue mean George had misgivings about the digital version or are they just milking the cow from all ports?

Jers -- Fri, 11/12/2010 - 18:11

Thanks for sharing your observations Joe. I will be on the look out for the Gerrge Marino version this weekend. I will post if I have any luck.  I am also going to check out the reissue of Tom Pettys Damn the Torpedoes. I saw an add for it and is said "remastered from original analog tape". I'm not real sure that tells my what I want to know, and this thing isn't cheep ($45 ?). Hopefully I will be able to find out more soon. Please keep those observations coming. I just got back in to vinyl and at the prices of these reissues...Well a community of like minded people helping each other look out  for the clunkers is a good thing.

joe.crowe -- Fri, 11/12/2010 - 19:52

Thanks for the reply. Obviously you know exactly what I'm talking about. On Fremer's website he mentions the Marino Hendrix and describes it as AAA. No mistaking what that means. Unfortunately finding that something is ADA is usually not so easy. Interestingly, I just ordered re-issues of Muddy Waters Hard Again and Chuck Berry St. Louis to Liverpool. The MW does say "mastered from the original tapes" but nothing else and something in the sound makes me wonder. The CB one the other hand says pure analogue mastering and it sounds rich, sweet and full. I might be wrong about the Muddy Waters but my experience is when my ears sizzle there is usually a cause. As you say, big bucks for these re-issues and if they have been digitally mastered at 96khz or less I'd prefer to know and buy the CD instead.

Jers -- Mon, 11/22/2010 - 19:34

I brought home the Electric LadyLand this weekend. The sticker on the outside says " All Analog Remaster From The Original 2-Track Masters Tapes". The inside liner notes confirmed it was remastered by Eddie Kramer and George Marino. It is a nice package.Two Lp gate fold with a nice looking 8 pg. booklet with photos and liner notes that to this point is unread. This thing makes my system sound as good as any thing I have put on it to date. Through out the recording I get a sense of the texture of the base as if I am hearing the string struck and then the amplified bass sound its hard to describe. On Voodoo Chile I get a sense of the room around the guitar. On Come On (Let the Good Times Roll) the guitar doesn't seem to come from the speakers but float space. And throughout the record the sound stage is huge (for my system) with voice and music seeming to come from well outside of the speakers. Way cool. I think most people would agree that some of the music on Electric LadyLand is what could be called bright and it is still a bit so on this recording. However I do not find it fatiguing, my ears do not sizzle. I am definitely going to seek out other albums in this "set". So I will leave you with this, in words said from one Hendrix fan to others since he first made music. You gotta try this man it's some good sh!@.

joe.crowe -- Wed, 11/24/2010 - 13:29

Thanks for the info, I think I will be checking that one very soon. What have your experiences been with other re-masters? Do you feel there is enough clarity and info regarding how they are made?

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