Boy howdy! That is service! I ordered this CD from Shriekback’s website last Monday morning and it was in my mailbox by Saturday afternoon! I chalk that up to the participation of Royal Mail. Comparatively, two weeks ago I ordered a CD from a vendor two hours away in Charlotte, and it took seven days to arrive, thanks to the meddling of the goldbricking private mail company DHL with what could have been a much faster US Post Office transaction! I tracked the package while in DHL’s hands and it had to move into a state not contiguous with my own and wait around for four days, before finally, arriving at my mailbox… a day late to send to my close personal friend in order to arrive in time for his birthday! So let us simply say to this, Rule Brittania.
Shriekfans may well wonder how is it? Well, the actual album and three of the bonus tracks sound incredible. Barry Andrews has revealed that a mint copy of the wax was secured and digitized by their engineer on a high end deck with a massively expensive cartridge. That all makes for quality that one can hear. I’ve not listened with ‘phones yet, but the [loud] in car playback this morning/afternoon revealed lots of punch and detail [not at the expense of dynamic range, either] and the scantest hint [I think] of transient clicks and pops that may have been car noise. In any case, tracks 1-10 are best of breed vinyl remastering. As good, or better than I would have done if I only had the free time, but we can’t dismiss the power of unplayed vinyl.
As someone who masters from vinyl as an obsession, I’ve bought multiple pressings of certain things to get the hottest quality. Hell, by the early 90s I was specifically buying sealed records that I already had just with this intent in mind! The source copies of “Jam Science” [Arista Version] have yielded top quality goods. But what of the Y Records version? Two cuts that were endemic to that release were added as bonus tracks here by the thoughtful band. “International” and “Putting On The Pressure” match the caliber of the work done on tracks 1-10. I’ll add that the B-side, “Nerve” is also right up there with the main album tracks. So this has been a time of delirious happiness for any who were, like myself, pining for the “Jam Science” album on the silvery disc of the gods.
Which is why it was a bit shocking to hear the “Hand On My Heart” version mixes from Arista [SHRK 221] fairly riddled with serious clicks and pops. Had I only known, I would have made my services available to the band [gratis, of course] to do that which I live for; attack transients by hand in a waveform, up to thousands of time per track. It is wherein I count the number of angels dancing on the tip of a stylus and attain that which brings me closer to the god of sound through my humble devotion. Obviously, the source vinyl for the 12″ was a bit long in tooth, but I have much experience with this particular problem.
It may be their engineer was used to using broadband NR that could decimate a track’s dynamic range. I’m here to testify that such tools exist and, in the wrong hands, can slay a track’s very essence. I have them, but I seldom use them. It is at that point that one must ask, “pop free… at what cost?” However, there’s more than one was to skin a transient. What I may do now is digitize my copy of “Hand On My Heart” remixes and upload the 24/192 resulting files to the cloud and make them available for Shriekback’s pleasure. If my copy sounds better than theirs, that is. I’ve only had my copy for decades and I’ve yet to play it, as per usual. Otherwise, I’ll just clean up the 44/16 file from the CD as a way of showing what can be done without touching the rest of the music. If a [not guaranteed] second pressing is relatively free from clicks and pops, then I will have done a good deed.
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